In this third year of CFO’s Tech Companies to Watch, we found a notable shift in the applications being offered by vendors. In every functional area of the companies that made our annual list — process management, recruiting, travel expenses, receivables management, and compliance among them — the goal is unearthing the real story behind the data to make more intelligent decisions.
The entirety of the list appears in the April/May 2019 edition of CFO magazine. We are revealing the first 10 companies on CFO.com, one per day. Our first eight tech companies to watch were FortressIQ, Behavox, Completed.com, Yaypay, Yapta, AuditBoard, Sisense, and App Annie. Today, we look at Aviso’s artificial intelligence powered sales platform.
Nailing the Forecast
If you’re a CFO who thinks sales executives tend to make over-rosy projections about when and whether a sale will close, you’re probably looking for a better information source. That’s where Aviso’s artificial intelligence-driven sales forecasting software comes in.
For most companies, potential sales categorized as “commits”—meaning they will definitely close—are actually only 65% to 85% likely to close, says Stephen D’Angelo, president of Aviso, an early-stage software provider.
Part of Aviso’s appeal to finance chiefs is that its software can forecast quarterly sales much more accurately than any sales leader—D’Angelo claims it forecasts with 92% to 96% accuracy. It can also predict the probability a sale will close within a given quarter.
Finance teams at Aviso client companies use its dashboards weekly or even daily to check sales projections by product, region, or other attribute. They can then apply that to planning for spending on marketing, personnel, and research and development. Based on Aviso’s forecasts, CFOs can optimize their companies’ sales resources to spend more time on likely sales instead of “garbage opportunities,” D’Angelo says. “We give them early warning signs or early green lights, early in the quarter and then throughout the quarter.”
Aviso’s software calculates sales forecasts for a company by starting with the individual projections made by everyone in sales, from salespeople to the sales manager to the chief sales officer. The artificial intelligence component of the Aviso software then augments that data by applying high-speed pattern-matching to whatever additional data the company makes available to the algorithm. That may include information from a customer relationship management system, for example, or even emails and calendar items.
The AI component then fine-tunes itself in its subsequent forecasts as it learns which factors are most predictive.
“It’s amazing how through this pattern-matching we’re able to identify deals that are progressing well, sales that are not progressing well, or what should be done on (certain) sales,” D’Angelo says. That helps improve win rates and speed up closing of pipeline deals. “Human beings just don’t have the time or bandwidth to process all this data, but the answers to the business lie within the data,” he adds.
Since launching, Aviso has landed some well-known corporate clients. They include Dell, Honeywell, GitHub, Glassdoor, and Splunk Technology. The company has raised $31 million in venture capital so far and is currently seeking additional series B funding.
The market, of course, is loaded with competition. There’s a baker’s dozen of other companies in the sales forecasting niche, according to analysts from Gartner Research and Smart Selling Tools, a specialized sales technology consultant. In addition, software giants Microsoft (Dynamics), Oracle (CX), Salesforce.com, and SAP are attempting to add sales forecasting to their offerings, says Tad Travis, a Gartner director.
For example, Salesforce, considered the “big gorilla” in the sales technology universe, offers an AI platform called Salesforce Einstein that can be adapted for sales forecasting, says Nancy Nardin, founder of Smart Selling Tools. But it doesn’t offer the turnkey capabilities of Aviso, she adds.
On the plus side, Aviso’s ability to forecast renewal revenue, such as subscriptions for consumer companies, stands out from other sales forecasting competitors, Travis says. “That’s a good spot to be in,” he says.