I've just come off an update briefing with Workday along with fellow Irregulars Susan Scrupski, Jason Corsello and David Terrar. Now on Update 7, due to be rolled out over the summer, Workday is going deep rather than wide. That means functionality may not seem that exciting but it forms the foundation for potential customer cost savings.
For example, the company ran us through how it presents context relevant information for people in different locales, covering data such as ethnicity, religious affiliation and language specific preferences. These may seem trivial but the devil is in the detail, something that has tripped up HR vendors in the past. Going alongside that, Workday has been careful to ensure that it is meeting safe harbor requirements, especially for EU states where data privacy is a sensitive topic.
Task delegation is another task they showed us where users can say request a vacation and move their tasks to another person. That can be tied to approval processes if needed. Again, it's a small example of something apparently trivial that adds significant value in business process efficiency.
I was disappointed to see that Workday has developed an iPhone application in preference to Blackberry as its first step into the mobile world but then IT is a fashion industry where the coolness factor counts. The company says that a generic HTML mobile client is next along with Blackberry.
Susan asked about integration to Enterprise 2.0 style services. The company said that while it is a big user of LinkedIn and Facebook, customers are still at the discovery phase. The company said that while there is plenty of interest in social style applications, customers have yet to crystallize their thinking about how this might work in the context of business applications.
In a follow up conversation with Jason Corsello, I questioned whether this is the right strategy: "Workday is taking a conservative approach which is probably right for the climate we're in but they could be doing more in that direction," he said. My take is that with so many open source applications out there, Workday could devote some resource to at least experimenting with say MindTouch and ESME.
On the general business front, Workday says it has now reduced the average implementation period down to around four months. Given the scale of customer it wishes to attract that's a credible performance but they will have to continue improving implementation methodologies if they are to scale. Today, the company records 75 customers. Let's see how they get on when they have 750.