Workday has a ritual it plays out twice a year. It does an hour long webinar to summarize features in its latest release. Stan Swete used to MC the session three times a year. Now, Leighanne Levensaler does it twice a year, as she did yesterday introducing Workday 24.
I am a big fan of how efficiently they use that hour – they cover new features, include demos, provide updates on customers etc.
It’s been poetry to watch every few months feature lists expand, upgrade times drop, customer satisfaction ratings improve and country coverage expand.
Last couple of times, though, I have wished they had a second hour focused more on verticals and geographies. I say last couple of times because in the last year as I interviewed a number of CIOs for SAP Nation, many asked me when Workday would move into their regions and industries, way beyond the HR and finance footprint.
Workday has been very disciplined about committing to new markets – let’s face it, they have barely scratched the market for replacement of financials. But as Leighanne pointed out they have found creative ways to globalize their payroll offering - total number of countries with certified intgrations in Workday Global Payroll Cloud is now up to 85.
I would like to see similar creative thinking with verticals – partnering with serious charter customers (design partners in Workday parlance), systems integrators with deep vertical knowledge (caveat – many talk a good game and are horizontal specialists with clients in specific industries), recruiting of industry specialists.
Two risks for Workday continuing on its current path:
Some customers are starting to call Workday “PeopleSoft updated for the cloud”. The PeopleSoft footprint of the enterprise in the 90s was relatively small, and the enterprise has grown so much bigger since with digital marketing, far more automated shop floor, smart product R&D, predictive asset maintenance. telematics in insurance, mobile banking, omni-channel retail, smart cities with sensors everywhere and so much more. There is significant fatigue with the current crop of “strategic” tech vendors, and Workday could well move into that vacuum, but not with its current small footprint.
A lesser risk: Every major and minor competitor is focused on financial and to a lesser extent, hcm markets and the cost of sales is likely to keep growing as customer’s expand their initial “long lists”.
I see too many vendors chase after every market. Workday has been the opposite, but the demand for expansion is real – at least in the sample of customers I talk to. With its usual discipline, Workday could pick a handful of industries to invest in.
I, for one, would love to see the second hour in future release webinars.
Update: I was remiss in not pointing out Workday does have a Higher Ed initiative and it did introduce PSA functionality for services markets in this release. Also, "fork" could be read to mean Workday give up on its single code line strategy. I was suggesting a two track strategy - continue its HCM/Finance track and also expand a vertical one.