Workday Rising 2014 Recap: Predictive Analytics Take Center Stage as Workday’s Pace of Innovation Accelerates
Principal, Advisory, Enterprise Solutions
Last week I attended Workday Rising, the annual forum that brings together Workday executives, customers, prospects, and partners to celebrate the past year’s client successes and share Workday’s vision and direction. Now that a week has passed, I have a few post-event observations.
First, the atmosphere at Workday Rising 2014 felt very different than a typical software conference. Even with 5,000 attendees—which certainly isn’t huge by Dreamforce and Oracle OpenWorld standards—Workday Rising seemed much more like a users group meeting than a vendor event, and in fact, it’s billed on the Workday Web site as “a community for customers to meet each other and share ideas.” It felt like a bunch of like-minded people getting together to share ideas and have fun.
The rate of innovation from Workday is accelerating. We heard about a slew of new products and features, including, notably:
- A new mobile experience for Workday for iPad and Workday for iPhone. Already a leading user interface for mobile devices, Workday definitely isn’t being complacent—the company continues to innovate. Workday’s “elegant, personal, and efficient” applications have added animations to bring the design foundation to life and create a familiar and intuitive feel. Users can also personalize their mobile experience. Over time, their search results, prompts, and menus will improve based on how they use the product. Workday Rising attendees could upgrade to the new UI on the spot on an opt-in basis.
Mobile isn’t the only area where Workday is refusing to rest on its laurels.
- Updates to the look and feel of Workday HCM. Mobile isn’t the only area where Workday is refusing to rest on its laurels. The company continues to improve its core applications with improvements to some of the main HCM components—such as a consumer-grade user experience. This was also made available immediately to customers outside of the standard Workday update cycle. No reason to keep the users waiting!
- Continued innovation with the core applications. In addition to the improvements to Workday HCM, Workday is making “standard” enhancements to its core products, including HCM, Workday Financial Management, and the integration cloud platform, with a focus on providing real-time information to business users.
- Predictive analytics and big data took center stage. The big news at Workday Rising was the unveiling of Workday Insight Applications. This is a new suite of applications that uses advanced data science and machine learning algorithms to help customers address different business scenarios. This was the big splash for Workday. It showcases the value of a consolidated enterprise platform that contains all of an organization’s data in one place, easily accessible, with the ability to do true predictive analysis versus just reporting. It’s a powerful tool. Integrated into the solution, it allows business users to not just see what happened last month and last quarter, but to start to look ahead.
During the first day’s keynote, Dan Beck, vice president of technology products, and Adeyemi Ajao, vice president of technology strategy, gave a great example around employee retention. They showed how Workday can display the top performers who are most likely to leave based on internal (years in position) and external (job searches) data. Managers can then be proactive in recommending job changes for each person, each change ranked by its impact on retention risk. Powerful!
- Accelerating technical change. One of the other key areas that Workday continues to improve upon is its core infrastructure support—not the traditional “ping, power, and pipe,” but rather how Workday manages the application within that environment. Workday updated nearly 700 tenants (production customers) to Workday 23 in six hours. Their goal was 12 hours. That’s amazing. How long did it take you to upgrade your legacy platform? It probably wasn’t measured in hours. Multiply upgrade time by the number of legacy platforms out there, and you get a huge productivity loss across enterprises. Maybe we should come up with a metric—there’s already one that estimates lost productivity due to the time we spend sitting in traffic.
How long did it take you to upgrade your legacy platform? It probably wasn’t measured in hours.
- Workday really listens to its customers’ suggestions. Workday Brainstorm is the mechanism Workday uses to solicit product enhancements. The community of Workday customers then votes on the ones they think will have the most impact. It’s an interesting process in which a lot of lobbying goes on. Workday incorporated more than 100 of these customer-suggested enhancements into the latest release—which represents a significant percentage of new features!
This customer involvement just reiterates how different the Workday community is from those of other traditional solutions. The level of collaborative customer engagement—in which ideas and artifacts (integrations, reports, etc.) are openly shared—creates an environment where companies receive broader value because they’re all on the same version of the solution, so each improvement benefits the entire community.
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