Workday show the lean way to do HR tech

3rd Feb 2011

HR is responding to the new lean way of working in their organisations: and this extends to the way human resources is using technology, finds Stuart Lauchlan.


“The Cloud has emerged as a great post-recession platform,” argues Aneel Bhusri, co-CEO of Cloud HCM firm Workday as he looks back at a year that saw the firm he co-founded with PeopleSoft founder Dave Duffield enjoy 50% year on year growth.

“It is a very simple calculus that our customers and prospects go through,” he explains. “They want to move to the Cloud but they need to have enough functionality for them to switch off their legacy systems. We've reached the footprint where organisations can turn off their legacy systems.

“We've moved into larger companies much quicker than I expected,” he adds. “I think the tipping point has been being global enough and robust enough in terms of the features and functions. Our system now have over 200 best practices. We are past PeopleSoft in terms of functionality.”

While Workday is expanding its functionality, Bhusri emphasises that it's not out to conquer every market and will partner when appropriate to meet end user needs, such as with Taleo for recruitment capabilities. “We are not trying to be a best of breed talent management, provider,” he says by way of example. “We added talent functionality but that came from being pulled in that direction by our customers who want unified talent management and HCM. If you don't offer that, then it can be messy for customers who have to dump data from a legacy system into a Cloud talent management system. For us, it's one and the same system – talent should be part of HCM.”

But not recruitment? - or is that yet to come? “Talent management is part of the wider management system. On the other hand, with recruitment only one in ten people might become an employee so you don't really want applicant data in the HR system as that will flood the system,” suggests Bhusri, adding: “A lot of our customers have already chosen a recruitment system. It's a very distinct group of users. On the performance side, those are bolt on solutions. So we partner on that.”

In all this functional expansion, he argues, Workday has been assisted by the Cloud Computing delivery model. “The new model is just so different, you don't carry the baggage,” he says. “There's only one release that we are working on at any one time. Just like Amazon and Facebook and, we're not dealing with legacy systems. That's where the legacy systems providers come up short.”

That said, there are some aggressive Cloud rumblings coming from the likes of SAP which presumably means a renewed competitive threat coming from the so called legacy providers? Bhusri isn't convinced. “With SAP, well, I will believe it when I see it,” he says. “At an SAP Summit, they talk and talk and talk and talk about the Cloud and they show a PowerPoint slide. At's Dreamforce conference, they build it and they show it. That's what I love about firms like – it's not about talking about something, it's about showing you it. And that's the beauty of the Web 2.0 world – people want to be shown things.

“SAP's Business ByDesign has a reasonable chance of catching up with the likes of NetSuite perhaps in the SME market, but it's not built for Fortune 500 companies. SAP has no strategy for Fortune 500 companies other than to say 'Cloud Computing isn't happening there'. Well, we know it is. Until they admit that large customers do want Cloud Computing, SAP will be in denial.”

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