Customers, colleagues, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and my writing day.

I have been spending the last few months deep in accessibility law, testing, standards, universal design, GDPR, the early history of business computing and of course my old friend, Sarbanes Oxley. I am an expert on Heidelberg and Sandton coffee shops, and I have spent far too long debating the value of one font over the other, and merits of footnote or in-text citations.  This week I have finally felt the adrenaline kick that comes from writing several competent pages and seeing a couple of pieces start to fit together. Long way to go though.

By the way, if you do any kind of research work, get hold of the tool called Mendeley. It is genius.

While I’m no longer in hurly burly of product management at SuccessFactors – Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn keep me abreast of what’s up back at the farm.

It was cool to read that Employee Central had hit the 2000 customer mark. Whenever I see those milestones I think back to the early customers without whom EC would not have 100 customers, never mind 2000.  Earlier this week, Liezl’s Facebook gave me a detailed account of  her visit with a South African customer to Timken, one of those early adopters.

But what prompted me to write this was a new connection today on LinkedIn.  Tim Gregory, the Director of HR Ops at Corning sent me a connection invite. While I had been involved in the early stages of the Corning project, I’d not actually met Tim.  We had a nice online chat, and he was cool with me quoting him about their go live.

I’m the Director of HR Operations here at Corning Inc – we went live with SF in July (23 countries, 12 languages, 70 integrations, all modules – except learning).

Not to over state it… but yet we’re pretty euphoric over here.

While 2000 is a cool number. Corning as happy campers is even better. Thanks Tim, you made my day.  I’m going to be following up with you on the blockchain thing.

Now, time to get back to this pile.

image1

Advertisements

EMEA. A little rant.

Dear  US software vendor,

Thanks for your market survey publication about trends in HR, helpfully categorised into an EMEA / US comparison of time/cost to hire and so on.

However, there is no such thing as a country called EMEA. It has no President, Queen, King or parliament. There is no language called EMEA. There is no EMEA currency. There is no EMEA culture. There is no EMEA compliance, or EMEA payroll. There are no EMEA business practices. No one who lives east of Cape Cod but West of India would describe themselves as from EMEA. There are no EMEAns or EMEAese. There is no EMEA flag. There is no EMEA anthem to stand or kneel to.

EMEA stands for Europe, Middle East and Africa. It is a vaguely useful construct for accounting and sales region organisational purposes, let’s leave it that way.

 

A conference, cupcakes, and a sprinkle of serendipity.

Last week I was at the HR Tech Europe Conference. A mighty fine event, although I spent most of it in a meeting room. I did escape for 20 minutes to present with Simon Bouchez on our new Work Connect solution, Business Beyond Bias, and the cool mobile stuff we are doing with Apple. As always, these events are an opportunity to catch up with colleagues and customers old and new.  Marc Coleman and team run a top notch show.

Having Serco and BAE Systems speak at the event was excellent. Customers make the best story tellers.  Seeing the digital boardroom in action on our stand was pretty neat too. Watching customers and prospects reactions to the product demos is illuminating.  Continous Performance Management, Mentoring, the New Org Chart all got lots of smiles. Our products have come a long way since I was last at this event in London.  I bumped into several partners, all eager to tell me about go lives, and things they need us to build. Our ecosystem is thriving. Thanks also to ATK for the after party.

Sometimes twitter has a lovely serendipitous juxtaposition of tweets. Other times it is plain weird. As I was boarding the flight back home, I noticed this pairing.

live

Shakti from PepsiCo and Chris Paine, a partner (Discovery)  in Australia celebrating go lives. Chris pinged me later, and we briefly chatted about how he took two Aussie companies live on EC and other modules, with deep SAP ERP integration. Chris, next time I’d like a cupcake too.

We hit another milestone the other day. We had 2 million log ons in a day. All in all, a good week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Employee Central Momentum

I had been meaning to write about EC momentum for a little while, and the press releases this week makes this week as good as any to do. Here is the juicy bit from today’s earnings announcement.

Human Capital Management Shows Strong Momentum

Customers are increasingly turning to SAP to manage their global workforce, both permanent and flexible. The customer count for SuccessFactorsEmployee Central, which is the core of our Human Capital Management offerings, surpassed 1,000 for the first time in the fourth quarter. SAP is winning against its key HCM competitors, especially in markets outside of the United States. For example, Lufthansa selected SAP SuccessFactors. SAP’s innovations in HCM will further increase SAP’s differentiation and drive market share gains.

Over a year ago, I wrote about the trajectory EC is on (Thank goodness for spellcheck, as trajectory remains a very awkward word to spell). 1000 customers. Sweet.

I’m writing this on way back from the sales kick off in Barcelona. It was fun meeting up with a bunch of happy and fired up sales folks and partners. I heard about successes in UK, Russia, Germany, France, Czech Republic, Portugal, Switzerland, and the UAE is totally rocking. Belgium too. It was especially nice to see the SAP South Africa gang. I’m expecting a gangbusters year from them.

The feedback on roadmap was gratifying, and it helped vindicate a couple of decisions we made last month. After a couple of days of tapas and sunshine, it is time to head back to Germany and focus back on the build plan for 1605 and 1608.

This morning on the plane, I thought about some of the EC customers that impacted my day in some way.

The coffee/s I drank, the toothpaste I used, my shaving stuff, the shower and sink manufacturer, my socks, my shoes, my jacket, the weather app I checked on, the phone network, the lenses in my glasses, the fridge in the hotel room, my briefcase, the elevator I took to the lobby, the tyres on the taxi that took me to the airport, the fizzy water I drank, the football boots worn by the dude that scored the goal in the Spanish league last night, the bolt holding up the roof in airport terminal, the yoghurt I had for breakfast, the shop I bought it in, airline that is flying me home, the satellite guiding it, the seat I’m sitting on, the publisher of the book I’ve just finished reading, and the maker of the guitar that David Bowie* played on the single I’m listening to as I write this. All of these companies run EC.

While it is great that the SAP press department has called out EC’s success in the press release and EC has featured prominently in the last couple of earnings calls, I’d like the mention the successes we are having with the other SuccessFactors products.

Onboarding is the fastest growing product in the portfolio, and has smashed every expectation. The feedback from the early adopters of intelligent services and the integration center is very encouraging. The multiposting acquisition is already gelling. I’m fired up to work with Simon and his team. More than ever, I’m convinced that we have the right approach and mix of organic and acquired innovation.

In the hotel in Barcelona last night I caught up with a start up partner, Enterprise Jungle. The CEO took a very early big bet on SuccessFactors extensibility with MDF and the HANA Cloud Platform, it was lovely to hear how that is now paying off. He explained how they are building a specialized offline and mobile performance management application with HCP for airline pilots to use, it enables them to rate the crew and other colleagues, then automatically syncs up with EC, Talent and even CRM. I also heard from Benefitfocus, Workforce Software and Docusign about the strong progress we are making together.

A few years ago, the early adopter customers helped us get this product off the ground. To all my colleagues, whether at SAP Successfactors or in the partner community, thanks for your dedication. You should be proud of what you have accomplished. More than anything, it is by listening to and learning from customers that we have achieved this milestone. There is still lots to do, but the trajectory remains on track.

 

*So long Ziggy Stardust, you made the world a better place. For Bowie fans, have a listen to this.

Today is my last day at Gartner.

Today is my last day at Gartner.

The last 5 1/2 years have flown by. I have learnt more than I imagined I could, and probably forgotten more too. I’ve done over 3000 inquiries, written over 100 research notes, led several magic quadrants, attended 100s of Research communities, spoke at numerous conferences and strategy days.  I’ve worked with fascinating colleagues, users and vendors from around the world.  I consider many of them to be friends, even though we have met so rarely in person.

It has been a blast, and I will look upon my time at Gartner with a deep fondness.  The way Gartner has handled my departure only increases my respect for the organization.  I expect to see Gartner’s HCM research grow from strength to strength.

photo

5 years of conferences.
So if it has been so good, why change?  As an analyst, you advise, you can suggest and you may even influence markets. That influence gave me a tremendous sense of satisfaction and respect for the responsibility that the role brings. But for the past few months I’d begun to wonder whether I wanted to remain an analyst for the rest of my career or not. I wasn’t really sure, but I felt a nagging itch. It took a while, but I have figured out what that itch is. It is the itch to build something.
This weekend I will be getting on a plane to Sapphire, the SAP annual conference,  not as a Gartner analyst, but as a SuccessFactors employee. I’m going to be the product manager for Employee Central. You can see the welcoming press release here.
I’m nervous, as I will need to learn a whole new raft of skills. I’m excited for the very same reasons.
Some of you reading this will know that I worked for SAP before joining Gartner, so you may be wondering why join SuccessFactors, which is part of SAP?  Here are my reasons.
  1. I reckon this is the most exciting job at the most exciting company  in HCM technology today.
  2. More broadly, HCM technology is the most dynamic place in application software now. What happens in HCM today will shape enterprise applications for the next 20 years. The investment, focus and market landscape is fundamentally different from where it was 5 years ago.
  3. Successfactors very rapidly developed a market leadership position in Talent Management software, and they have the opportunity to do the same in cloud core HRMS. Combining SAP’s deep experience and massive presence  in core HRMS and Successfactors will make for a powerful combination.  I think I can help make them work better together.  I understand  some of SAP’s strengths and weaknesses, its culture and how to get things done.
  4. There is no better salesforce in enterprise software. When aligned, is remarkable.
  5. The leadership team at SuccessFactors and SAP have very clear idea of what they would like me to do. I have seen too many analysts be hired into strategy roles, and then whither on the vine of large vendor politics. It is crystal clear that my fundamental job is to lead the team building Employee Central. This will be a massive challenge. I look forward to the learning curve.
  6.  In the 1995 Klaus Tschira, one of the SAP founders, impressed me so much with his vision for HR technology that  I convinced my wife that we needed to move to Germany. There is much in that vision that still needs to be built, so in a sense I have unfinished business with SAP.
My day today is tinged with feelings of farewell, but I can’t wait to start my new role .
To my colleagues at Gartner, I’ll reiterate my thanks for 5 fabulous years.
To my new colleagues at SuccessFactors and  SAP, thanks for the lovely welcome.

Conferences, comedy, clouds and contracts.

Continuing my attempts to bring Shakespeare into as many posts as I can….

Let specialties be therefore drawn between us,
That covenants may be kept on either hand.

(Taming of the Shrew  II. i. 127-8)

A couple of weeks ago, I presented at the HR Technology Conference in Chicago, the topic being SaaS Contracts:  how not to get ripped off.  I made an animation to start the presentation, as talking about contracts can be a bit dry.

 

If the embedded version doesn’t behave,  watch it here.    My goal was to show the naivete of the typical buyer when dealing with a smooth salesperson. In the space of about 2 minutes, the buyer makes at least 9 major blunders. See if you can spot them. It is supposed to be funny, but I’ll let you be the judge of that.

A week or so after the event I did a podcast  on the Bill Kutik Radio Show, where I go into a bit more detail.  Have a listen here.  I’m not a lawyer, so this doesn’t constitute legal advice, but I’m saddened by the ignorance on the side of the buyer, and the willingness of the seller to exploit that. That is business, I guess.

Or as Camillo said in   The Winter’s tale:

You pay a great deal too dear for what’s given freely.

Also we have a lot of research on how to buy cloud/SaaS solutions.  Gartner clients should definitely check out Alexa Bona’s  research. Whether buying or selling, getting a fair contract is best in the long run.

(I’m very impressed with the Xtranormal tool for animation. I checked with their legal folks on usage, what a pleasure to deal with them).

HR Tech in Chicago.

Gosh. I’m very pleased, read ecstatic,  that I’m not going to Vegas for what seems like the 400th time.  I get to go to Chicago, Chicago, that wonderful town.

For the past few years I’ve gone to HR tech I have managed to largely lurk in the background. This year I have a couple of speaking gigs, so a bit more limelight.

Bill runs a very good show.  The sessions are always well prepared, and the event runs like clockwork.

My main session is on SaaS Contracts. Rather provocatively titled,” How not to get ripped off.”   I’m combining some deep research from Alexa Bona and my colleagues at Gartner with my experiences over the last 5 years reviewing contracts, and musing on vendor and buyer foibles.  Buyers attending the session will leave with a better sense of what to avoid and what to do, and I’m hoping vendors will learn a bit too and maybe squirm a bit.  The contracting behaviour of both buyer and seller leaves much room for improvement.

Buyers could learn from this legal document.

If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated

Points if you know where it is from without Googling it.

I’ll also do an expert session on big data. I’m not a big fan of the term, but hey Bill makes up the titles.

Things I’m looking out for at the event as I stroll the floor and attend sessions.

1. Business impact. HCM technologies that bring value to the business beyond the HR department.

2. Algorithms. The real power of analytics isn’t in the chart or the cool graphics. It is in the mathematics.

3. Global stuff, but defined in a way that means something outside of  North America. (Big rant brewing on this one).

4. Privacy aware and enhancing technology

5. Disruption in core HRMS

6. Social and mobile in something other than a demo.

7. A box. A magical box.

8. I’ll leave the debates about  cloud  meteorology to others. I can debate clouds with the best of them. I have an undergrad major in Geography.

 

I’ll be joined by a couple of other Gartner colleagues.  Jeff Freyermuth and Morgan Yeates will be in attendance too.

If you would like to meet with me please contact my assistant, Sharon Gray at Gartner dot com.  I will have some slots for meetings, but I’m hoping to spend most of the event outside of a meeting room.  Vendors  please remember that you can brief me any day of the year.  I’m especially keen to meet up with end user clients.

In the spirit of discounting,  which you will learn about in my session, I give you my discount deal for the conference.

Just use the Promotion Code OTTER12 (all caps) when you register online www.HRTechConference.com to get $500 off the rack rate of $1,795. The discount does not expire until the conference ends on Oct. 10.  This is a final offer so don’t even bother to try and get a better deal on another blog.