Workday: 'parity' with SAP in 18 months

Peoplesoft founder Dave Duffield's new venture Workday will have feature parity with SAP within 18 months and is aiming to replace all Oracle and SAP installations, he told a conference today.

Peoplesoft founder and former CEO Dave Duffield wowed attendees at SaaScon today with his endorsement of the software-as-a-service model, which his new venture Workday has espoused to deliver ERP to medium-sized and large enterprises.

Workday CEO Dave Duffield (right) interviewed at SaaScon today by Saugatuck's Bill McNee
"Why didn't we call it Peoplesoft On Demand? If the name hadn't been taken, perhaps we should have done," he said in response to an audience question.

He explained that the decision to adopt the software-as-a-service model had been inspired by the success of pioneers such as RightNow and Salesforce.com. "We thought, well, it works, why not make it work in an ERP application?"

Workday, which went into production with its first release in November last year, already has five customers on the system, including RightNow, which along with Salesforce.com has signed up as an early adopter. Initially, the company is targeting companies with 1000 to 5000 employees but has recently signed a 17000 employee account, Life Time Fitness.

Duffield revealed that Google had almost become another win, "but they wanted to take us in a different technology direction than we wanted to go."

The company's next release, due in June, will add core financials, and there's an aggressive roadmap to fill out ERP capabilities to serve the needs of typical service companies (manufacturing and supply chain isn't yet on the roadmap). Once that happens, and the company has proved itself with smaller companies, then Workday aims to target larger enterprises, aiming squarely at SAP and Oracle's heartlands.

"Within eighteen months we'll be easily on [feature] parity with SAP in our target industries," said Duffield in answer to another question, citing Citigroup and Federal Express as examples of the type of company Workday will target.

"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."

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