By Lori Asburry
Workday Rising is always one of our favorite events each year. It’s a chance to spend time with our customers, to celebrate success and share stories of true business transformation. It’s also a chance to look ahead, and focus on the possibilities of tomorrow’s customer success stories, enabled by the continual innovation and customer-centric approach of a partner like Workday.
There were a number of Workday announcements at Rising this year that are incredibly exciting for Workday customers. As Dennis Howlett (@dahowlett) and other analysts have observed, Workday is increasingly separating itself from its competitors with a customer-first, mobile-centric and fundamentally different approach to ERP.
Here’s our take on the highlights.
Near term, of course, it’s Workday 18. As both a Workday partner and Workday customer (running both Human Capital Management and Financials), we’re preparing for the upcoming update both for ourselves and for our customers. A few features that we find most compelling:
1) Expanded financial management for global organizations allows companies to better manage finance operations around the world. The majority of our customers have global operations, so this becomes increasingly important as customers seek to standardize business processes across the globe and to provide global visibility into operations. As a global organization ourselves, with operations in the United States, Japan, Europe, and India, it is critical for us as a Workday customer to have real-time visibility into the performance of our business around the world.
2) Continued focus on collaboration and mobile: We are big believers that collaboration and mobile access to information increases productivity, allows for a focus on the underlying business decision, and deepens relationships (in the case of Workday, deepening relationships with HR and Finance). In fact, Jason Averbook, Chief Business Innovation Officer at Appirio, predicts that Workforce 2020 will be one that will only be mobile. The workforce of the future will expect to be able to connect to real-time processes and technologies from wherever they are, whenever they want. At Appirio, our own managers increasingly connect to Workday from the road, even between sessions at a conference, to make real-time business decisions based on information easily accessible on our smartphones and tablets.
Furthermore, Workday is getting it right in the mobile area. They haven’t just repackaged the desktop application for mobile devices. They believe applications must be redesigned and reimagined for mobility, and the result is that Workday on an iPhone is an iPhone experience, and Workday on the iPad is an iPad experience, and the intuitive nature of each boosts productivity and the solution truly becomes seamless. In stark contrast, other vendors, like SAP, charge a huge uptick and require massive server deployments in order to enable mobile.
3) Custom fields: The ability to create custom fields is something we’ve greatly anticipated. This level of extensibility gives us that much more creativity to develop a solution that addresses the unique aspects of our customer’s requirements.
Financials for Fortune 500 Customers
Workday’s focus on scalability of Financials for Fortune 500 customers means that by the end of this year, Financials customers will be able to edit 50 million journal lines, and by the end of next year, that will double to 100 million. Scalability is a key requirement for many large organizations where they produce tens of millions of journal lines each accounting period. Additionally, it means that the processing time required to generate an income statement, display a graph of financial data or drill down into journal detail from a summary amount will be greatly reduced.
What excites us most about Workday’s announcement of the general availability of a Workday Recruiting in 2014 is the plan to deliver an end-to-end talent acquisition solution, something customers have been clamoring for as a key component of a holistic Human Capital Management solution for quite some time. More than just another technology module to implement, this will provide an opportunity for customers to deploy the recruiting process as part of a broader HCM transformation. By linking recruiting with the rest of the talent management process and core HCM data including reporting information, organizations will have the opportunity to think holistically and transform processes across HCM functions to truly maximize their talent.
Of course, we also like that Workday Recruiting will be designed with a mobile-first approach, a focus on collaboration and an emphasis on analytics.
Big Data Analytics
Which brings us to the very big deal, what Workday described as the third leg of the cloud: Analytics (the first two legs being HR and Finance). Generally available in Workday 20, Analytics will allow Workday customers to bring together vast amounts of data from multiple sources directly into Workday for analysis and reporting.
This is early but an incredibly exciting development. Data is exploding with 90% of the world’s data having been created in the past 2 years. There’s more data available on our customers, employees, products and companies than ever before. Harvesting all this information for insight is no easy task and one that gets exponentially harder as data explodes. Because of their unique in-memory database architecture, Workday is one of the few enterprise software vendors with the potential to bring together masses of external and internal data together to quickly generate insight. Things that seem far-fetched today, like incorporating social signals into talent management, could become a reality very soon.
Cloud, social and mobile are fundamentally changing our personal and professional lives. Workday, along with Salesforce and Google provide the technology platforms for companies to do business in entirely new ways. Workday Rising has again inspired us to think about how our customers can use these new capabilities to manage their operations and their talent in fundamentally new and better ways!
Lori Asburry is Senior Director of Consulting at Appirio, now focused exclusively on leading the Workday practice. An early key hire at Appirio, Lori has over 15 years experience leading service and support, education, and consulting organizations for software product companies from startup through acquisition, including DataFocus (MKS, Inc.), Roadshow (Descartes), and Artesia (OpenText).