Wow! That’s probably the best word to describe the energy level and activity at OneStream’s Splash User Conference and Partner Summit at the New Orleans Marriott last week. While we were all a bit exhausted after four days in the “Big Easy”, the conference was by all accounts a raging success with approximately 1,100 attendees, 23 sponsors, 3 hands-on workshops, 20 drop-in demos, 55 breakout sessions, and lots of networking and socializing.
Attendance at the event was over 50% higher (#thinkbigger) than Splash Chicago, which was evidenced by the size of the general session room, number of partner sponsors, and the overflow crowds at the “drop-in demo” sessions on Wednesday.
During the conference OneStream customers, prospective customers, partners, employees and other invited guests were updated on the new innovations in the OneStream XF Platform and XF MarketPlace, sneak previews of upcoming innovations, tips and tricks, best practices and insights into how our customers are modernizing finance, reducing reliance on spreadsheets and legacy CPM applications – and unleashing their finance organizations to provide more value across the enterprise.
Rather than just recap the highlights of the conference, the following is a summary of my personal journey through the conference and some of the key takeaways from my own perspective.
Tuesday: Pre-Conference Workshops and Meetings
With the actual conference running Wednesday – Friday, Tuesday was a day for hands-on workshops, a customer advisory board meeting, a community service activity, and other pre-conference meetings. The hands-on workshops included Admin and Power-User Workshops for existing customers and partners, as well as End-User Workshops for prospective customers. All the workshops were fully booked, and the feedback from attendees was extremely positive regarding the content that was covered, and the assistance they received from the OneStream staff.
As for me, I attended the OneStream Customer Advisory Board (CAB) meeting, which ran most of the day on Tuesday. The CAB is a group of 10 key customers who are invited to get periodic updates from OneStream executives on our strategy and product roadmap, preview new innovations, and provide valued feedback that influences our decision-making on platform and solution investments.
While there were discussions held about the direction of several popular XF MarketPlace solutions, including Account Reconciliations, the most interesting discussion was a preview the group was provide into some major investments OneStream is making into the data visualization and analytic capabilities of the OneStream XF platform. More details to come on this later, but the feedback from customers on these innovations was overwhelmingly positive, especially from the larger organizations with more sophisticated requirements.
After the CAB meeting, I stopped by to help with the dry-run for the Wednesday keynote sessions, then rolled into the Splash Welcome Reception in the Expo Hall. By the time I got there, the room was packed and buzzing with excitement as the conference attendees visited the OneStream and partner exhibit booths, had some appetizers and cocktails, and reconnected with old friends and welcomed new members into the OneStream ecosystem. It took me about an hour and a half to make my way around the room – chatting with customers, partners, industry analysts, OneStreamers, and other invited guests – many of whom have worked together for the past 15 – 20 years at OneStream, Oracle, Hyperion and other CPM vendors and service providers. For me, these events sometimes feel more like a high school or college reunion than a business event!
After the welcome reception, the OneStream Marketing team headed off to team dinner in the French Quarter, a couple of hours to relax and have some fun together before the conference. The amazing part was that our Marketing team is growing so quickly, there were several team members who I had not yet met in person. The restaurant also had these really cool light-up dessert menus that were a big hit for a table full of marketers!
Wednesday: Splash Day 1
After a quick morning workout, I headed over to breakfast where I was on the lookout for several industry analysts I was hosting at the conference. I connected with Seth Lippincott from Nucleus Research for breakfast and a nice chat, then his colleague Andrew MacMillen joined us for the walk over to the opening general session. Rob Kugel from Ventana Research, who had come in the night before for the welcome reception was also in attendance.
The general session opened with a New Orleans Jazz band setting the vibe for the conference, followed by OneStream CRO and co-founder Craig Colby, who welcomed everyone and highlighted how the conference had come full circle and grown tremendously (#thinkbigger) from the inaugural one held in New Orleans in 2013. That first user conference had only 40 attendees vs. approximately 1,100 this year. Then after a quick video montage of customers and stories from previous “Splashes”, Craig kicked off the Splash Customer Panel Discussion featuring CapitalOne Bank (what’s in your wallet?), UPS® (the largest package delivery company in the world), and one of the largest privately-held companies in the US.
Delivering 100% customer success is OneStream’s mission, so it was suiting that we led off the general session with these large enterprises talking about how they are transforming finance, and their organizations, and how using the OneStream XF platform and XF MarketPlace solutions are helping them drive transformation in their organizations. While OneStream has many customers with less than $500M in revenue, the scope of transformation that the OneStream XF platform can support in these larger customers demonstrates that with the right platform every company can #thinkbigger about finance transformation.
After the customer panel, OneStream CEO Tom Shea took the stage to highlight how OneStream is “thinking bigger” about our company, and how we’ll work with our new partner KKR to scale the business and continue innovating the OneStream XF Platform and XF MarketPlace solutions. The big focus of Tom’s session was the introduction of new data visualization and “analytic blend” capabilities we are adding to the platform.
This included new easy-to-create BI dashboards on the front-end, which were well-received as a way to provide self-service data visualization capabilities to finance and line of business analysis. It also included a review of major investments we are making on the back-end to extend OneStream’s capabilities from consolidation of financial data, to simpler aggregations of actuals, budgets and forecasts, then into the analysis of high volumes of detailed transactional data – all within our unified platform.
While there was a high degree of interest in the BI dashboards, the innovations we are making on the back-end will continue to raise the bar on performance for larger and more complex consolidation, planning and reporting requirements. And it also got the customers thinking about new use cases for the OneStream platform – bringing operational data analytics into the platform. (#think bigger – #dreambigger)
After the general session, I was off to moderate a breakout session featuring Macy’s, who replaced Hyperion Planning and several Essbase cubes with OneStream for planning, financial reporting and management reporting – weekly and monthly. Then onto lunch, several customer success presentations in the afternoon and partner events in the evening.
Thursday – Splash Day 2
Day 2 started with a 6:45 AM Fun Run along the Mississippi River, which over 80 Splash attendees participated in. Then it was time for breakfast and a guest general session delivered by Lou Holtz, the hall of fame former college and pro football coach and former ESPN football analyst. At 82 years of age, Mr. Holtz has a ton of energy and shared many stories and lessons about overcoming adversity, leadership, teamwork and achieving success in life and business.
Then I was off to film several video testimonials from customers at Splash, followed by a lunch meeting with Rob Kugel of Ventana Research and several of our senior executives. In the afternoon I had the pleasure of moderating several excellent breakout sessions including:
Thursday evening was our Splash Night Out – Mardi Gras Masquerade party. When I attended Splash 2018 in Chicago, I didn’t realize how serious the OneStream staff, partners and customers take dressing up for these events. So, this year I donned my Mardi Gras attire and went for it! The party was a blast, with food, drink and a lot of dancing to the music of a band called “Bag of Donuts”. The response from the Splash crowd was so strong the party got extended for an extra hour!
Friday – Splash Day 3 and Wrap-Up
In response to attendee requests for more content at Splash, this year OneStream added a few more sessions on Friday morning, then a closing lunch featuring dueling pianos and the announcement of next year’s conference location. Drum roll please………………………and the winner is Toronto!
While I’m still catching up on my sleep after four crazy days in New Orleans, feedback from customers, prospective customers, partners, OneStreamers and other attendees at Splash 2019 has been overwhelmingly positive. In fact, one prospective customer in attendance commented that while they tried to get existing customers at Splash to tell them what’s wrong with the product or the company, not one customer they spoke with would say anything negative about OneStream!
It will be hard to outdo this event in Toronto next year – but we’ll be “thinking bigger” for sure! And for those who missed SplashNOLA, there’s always SplashMADRID coming up in September.
Visit our web site for more information about our Splash Madrid conference and other upcoming OneStream events.