My blog has been, of late, as a blogging friend recently commented, reflexively pro-SAP.

Mea Culpa. 

On the one hand, the HR space is rocking for SAP. ADP is going great guns with its SAP based Globalview offering, and other BPO providers are also getting serious traction. Regional shared service centers powered by SAP are everywhere. At least here in Europe the transactional HR space is rapidly becoming a question of whether you run SAP in-house or whether you have ADP, Arinso, Convergys etc do it for you.

The Talent Management suite is looking good, and we have some sparky references and serious momentum in the customer base. (I’m looking forward to the Rio Tinto talk at the Atlanta Sapphire  and the Zurich Financial Services session in Vienna) Every partner I speak to is really busy.

Oracle do win occasionally, but they are a pale shadow of what PeopleSoft was. Perhaps they have some fabulous new stuff brewing that will stun us all, but right now, here in Europe, all is cosy and well in the enterprisey HR space.

Speaking of PeopleSoft I expect that Workday will start to win more business in the customer base of the software company formerly known as PeopleSoft. Phil provides an insight here. The Dave Duffield track record, charm and vision isn’t to be written off, but the back by popular demand “PeopleSoft on demand” isn’t exactly selling up a storm yet.It is telling when the most interesting customer is one they didn’t win. A  colleague, a solution manager, commented on his internal blog at SAP earlier: (hope he doesn’t mind the cut and paste)

I read this evening that PeopleSoft founder Dave Duffield a software legend of Plattnerian proportions is aiming for the stars with his new venture WorkdayHe was on a panel at SaaSCon today and declared:

“We’re looking to replace all the Oracle and SAP installations,” he went on, to cheers from the auditorium. “Our target is the system of record.”

Uh-huh. That sounds a bit far-fetched for someone with 5 live customers after the same number of months. Sweet deal velocity, Dave.

Still, SAP has underestimated Duffield before to our chagrin. PeopleSoft was hurting us. Badly. Thanks to Oracle, they left the scene, but anyone who tells you we crushed them is out to lunch. We got lucky.

We need lots more colleagues that keep an eye on the new waves of competition, and have a heathly respect for them. Workday is small today, but who knows?  They could do well and then Oracle might buy them.

Here comes the respect bit.

Even so, sitting here in Walldorf with 10,000 HR customers and solid growth, one could almost be forgiven for being smug about the HR space, but this would be so wrong.  Permit me to quote my favourite literary character of all time, Bertie Wooster.

I don’t know if you know that sort of feeling you get on these days round about the end of April and the beginning of May, when the sky’s a light blue with cotton-wool clouds and there’s a bit of a breeze blowing from the west? Kind of uplifted feeling.

I’m not absolutely certain of the facts, but I rather fancy it’s Shakespeare who says that it’s always just when a fellow is feeling particularly braced with things in general that Fate sneaks up behind him with the bit of lead piping.

If anyone here in enterpriseyville still thinks that SaaS is not a factor in the HR space,  then I’d urge them to read this press release from Successfactors. (hat tip Jason)

SuccessFactors delivers performance and talent excellence, on demand. The company’s software promotes visibility, accountability, and results, enabling organizations to eliminate the politics that destroy motivation and impede performance. Fueled by the industry’s highest renewal rate, SuccessFactors has grown in the past 13 months from 346 customers to over 1,300 customers and from 1 million users to over 2 million users in 156 countries, across 60 industries, and in 18 languages — all while becoming easier to use

Sucessfactors has emerged as a global player in a remarkably short period of time.   Lots of folks here in starship enterprisey talk about Salesforce.com, but Successfactors deserves greater attention and respect. 

Is it SaaS or something else?

I’m not sure though that SaaS is the only ingredient of their secret sauce. (Jim’s thoughts on SaaS are useful here) There is a certain cluetraininess to Successfactors too: The no jerk rule has made it into a number of management books. A year ago systematicHR (a super HR blog)  had this to say.

Their clients are raving fans of the lunatic type. I’ve never seen clients (as an aggregate) as loyal to the vendor as with this case. On the other hand, SuccessFactors, from everything I’ve heard from the client base) really seems to actively gather client requirements and implement them frequently and methodically,

Here at SAP we need to remember that the HR and line manager buying centre requires sales and go-to-market focus. Important though the SOA story is, I’d suggest that we need to spend more effort and resource positioning to the folks that actually manage the line of business and run the HR department. Building sustainable and meaningful relationships with the HR professionals, and addressing their pain points in a technical-jargon-free fashion has never been more important. Winning the ERP backbone gives us an advantage, sure, but it doesn’t give us the right to assume we will garner the talent management business. 

Now that customers are upgrading in significant numbers to ERP 2005, we have the functionality and the UI to compete and rapidly grow the talent management adoption. It is a matter of laser-like customer focus and execution. 

But rather than bang the SAP drum as I normally do, I’ll simply finish by saying well done Successfactors.R.E.S.P.E.C.T



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One thought on “R.E.S.P.E.C.T.”

  1. I found your article on google and read a few of your other posts. I just got many idea from your site. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

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