Platform for the Social Enterprise – Workday and Salesforce

September 2, 2011 Appirio

Ryan Nichols

Yesterday’s Dreamforce keynote was a deep dive into Salesforce’s cloud platform, with a focus on its new social capabilities.

At this point, we’re used to hearing about Force.com’s success in the enterprise. Seeing Appirio customers like Avon and Facebook up on the big stage talking about the amazing things that they’re doing on the force.com platform is always one of our favorite parts of Dreamforce.

Widespread traction in the ISV community has been harder for Saleforce to come by– that’s why there was so much excitement around last year’s RemodyForce announcement with BMC, and why we got to witness yesterday morning the very odd spectacle of former Oracle leaders Chuck Phillips (now CEO of Infor) and Ray Lane (Investor & chairman of HP) talking to Benioff about the investments they’re making on Force.com.

But we didn’t get to hear nearly enough about the most interesting platform partnership announced at Dreamforce– the new partnership between Workday and Salesforce. Workday will be making its workforce data available in Salesforce Chatter, and will enable Force.com as an extensibility platform to Workday.

Salesforce + Workday= “Cloud Suite” for the social enterprise

We had the pleasure of hosting Aneel Bhusri (Workday’s co-CEO) at our Casino Royale Dreamforce after-party the other night, along with business and IT leaders from large enterprises like Flextronics and Brady already using Salesforce and Workday. Conversations that night made clear to us how much potential there is to bring these two cloud leaders together: Imagine being able to do vacation approvals in the flow of your work, without having to switch over to a new system. Imagine being able to collaborate about a hiring decision, in the context of that person’s interview notes. Imagine assembling a virtual team to make an important business decision, and having all the financial data you need to make that decision at your fingertips. Imagine being able to build a lightweight extension to your core financial system… without spending years on integrations and upgrades.

This partnership is a big win for Salesforce. Workday confidence in Force.com is a great proof point of the value that Salesforce’s platform can bring to ISVs. Its also a big step forward towards their vision of the social enterprise. One of the most interesting things about Chatter is that (despite the name) it has never been about idle chatter– Chatter is about getting work done, collaborating in the context of real business data. Since many enterprise deployments of Chatter start where Salesforce has traditionally been strongest– in sales & support teams– a lot of the initial Chatter success stories have been around productivity in those departments (for example, Appirio’s rollout of Chatter for the sales team at Yahoo). Other apps built on force.com also have their data in Chatter already, but there’s still a lot of critical business data that’s not on force.com. Having data from horizontal applications like HR and Finance in the Chatter stream will truly make Chatter an enterprise-wide collaboration platform.

And what about Workday? Why are they doing this? The main reason is focus. “Salesforce is really focused on becoming a platform company, and we’re one of the companies that will embrace that platform, “ Aneel said yesterday in an interview on Bloomberg. “We’re much more focused on the application worlds of HR and accounting…. and this is a massive undertaking.” Partnering with Salesforce allows Workday to focus on their core applications instead of having to build out their own Platform as a Service or social layer.

Workday’s openness has been key to their 90% annual growth year over year– they have an innovative integration platform embedded in their product, and adhere to a philosophy they call the “natural workplace.” Instead of forcing people to come to Workday, people can use Workday from wherever they naturally work. The benefits are clear, especially for HR and Finance applications with a large number of “casual” users.

We’ve always argued that the benefits of cloud computing accelerate as you move more and more of your business on the cloud. When you combine these new integrations between Salesforce and Workday with the existing integrations between Salesforce and Google, its possible to assemble a “virtual cloud suite” that offers the benefits of best of breed applications without creating separate “SaaS silos” of information. Here at Appirio, we run our entire business on Salesforce, Google, Workday, and other SaaS apps in the cloud ecosystem. We spend less than half of what Gartner says an organization our size should spend on IT, and are able to support the productivity of our employees better than organizations many times our size.

Yesterday’s announcement takes us one step closer to bringing the benefits of a “connected cloud” to all of our enterprise customers.

Previous Article
Dreamforce 2011 Wrap up: Our 10 Favorite Blogs about #DF11
Dreamforce 2011 Wrap up: Our 10 Favorite Blogs about #DF11

Balakrishna NarasimhanLast week, we were at Dreamforce with about 40,000 other cloud believers (and maybe a...

Next Article
On Being Named a World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer
On Being Named a World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer

Narinder Singh Today, we are honored to be named a 2012 World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer. The World ...