Artificial Intelligence to boost your planning!


Published by Jan Veerman, last updated on

History of Planning systems 

Planning systems used to make supply chain decisions are not incredibly old. The first adopted planning tool, Excel, was introduced in 1985 (Microsoft Multiplan, rebranded to Excel in 1987).  


Shortly after, more robust planning solutions from vendors like Adaytum, Essbase and Oracle saw the light in the 1990’s and matured in the 2000’s. All server-based platforms, where the server- and desktop (clients) software needed regular updates (by sliding in floppy discs and later CD-ROMs, who remembers those days?). The first major cloud-based planning platform was born in 2006 when Anaplan was founded. And the next level of cloud-based planning in 2019 when Pigment was established. In a timespan of less than 40 years much has changed! 


The technology used to create the planning platforms changed rapidly over the years. The need for larger planning models, more reporting capabilities (graphs, boards), better collaboration (workflow, automation) and the option to create and run scenarios. The adoption of the cloud-foundation was a brilliant move to support planning process where users are located all around the world without the hassle to update local software to the latest version. And use one central database to make sure every user collaborated with the same data. 


Looking forward, we see a new wave of functionality coming our way that will make the life of a planner easier. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the new functionality that is or will be embedded in the planning platforms. Pigment is working hard to release AI in their platform soon. This AI will support in three different areas: 

  • Assisted data visualization 
  • Assisted modelling 
  • Time series forecasting 
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Assisted data visualization 

Assisted data visualization will be based on Large Language Models (LLM) where the user can ask questions via a prompt. Think of questions like: 

  • Can you breakdown the revenue per country and product? 
  • Why are our personnel costs higher than the plan? 
  • Which country contributes the most to the total emission?  


Pigment will transform the questions into visual answers by creating the best overview to present. No more standard overviews for all, every user can create, in an instant, the overview he or she needs based on the current planning questions at hand. 


Assisted modelling 

With assisted modelling, also based on LLM (Large Language Models, like ChatGPT), the user can ask a question like “create a P&L”. Pigment creates the underlying metrics (like revenue, costs, margin) and presents this in an overview for the user. This can be used for very straight forward calculations (like financial statements). 


Time series forecasting 

Time series forecasting is the ability to generate a forecast based on actual data. Forecast algorithms like seasonal forecasting methods, Exponential Smoothing and more are embedded in the platform to generate the forecasts. 


The planner can look at the generated forecast and override the data where applicable. Helping the planners to focus on the areas where they know an exception is needed (exception management), shortening the time needed to create a new plan. 


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The future of planning is now 

With the addition of AI-functionality to the Pigment planning platform, the life of planners will be made easier. Why? There are a couple of advantages that will support the planning cycle by using AI: 

  • Fit for purpose 
  • Faster planning 
  • Exception management 
  • Higher accuracy 


Fit for purpose 

With AI, each user can ask questions with the prompt to create specific reports and overviews based on the planning question at hand. We all know that a standard report only tells the basic information needed. With AI, more detailed reports can be created, and in-depth analysis can be performed. After the analysis, the generated overviews can be saved for later use or discarded. 


Faster planning 

With AI, the forecasts are generated when new (actual) data has been loaded or when the forecasting parameters are updated. This allows for much faster planning cycles, more time to analyze the data and even run several scenarios. 


Exception management 

With AI, the option to focus on the exception based on set thresholds, becomes a day-to-day practice. Instead of going over thousands of data points, Pigment shows the exceptions so the planners can focus on the important topics. 


Higher accuracy 

System generated forecasts, when tuned right, create higher accurate forecasts. These generated forecasts leave out our human emotions, to generate a higher accuracy. When planners are convinced of the quality of the generated forecasts, the quality of the planning process improves immediately. 


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Conclusion why AI supports business planning

Is AI the holy grail for planners? No, but it brings us to the next level of planning maturity. And AI will save vast amounts of costs (inventory, less waste), improve sales (lost), and position companies to be better prepared for the future (improved forecast accuracy, scenarios) and with that, improve the bottom-line result of your company. 


The much-anticipated AI-functionality will be made available in the next couple of months. Keep a close watch on our website and blog posts to stay up to date on the latest progress. 

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