Workday: lessons learned from the past and more

Workday talks about lessons from the past and discusses reporting issues with analysts
Written by Dennis Howlett, Contributor

One of the fascinating features of the Workday Tech event came when Aneel Bhusri, co-founder, set out the lessons he learned from his time at PeopleSoft. (see video above)

As I've said before, Aneel is no intellectual slouch and to his credit does PR badly. He talked about the difficulties of transitioning a company to a different platform - in this case from on-premise to SaaS, describing the issue as one of "antibodies in development and sales." It's a common theme that I see in other companies. He correctly points out that SAP has faced (and continues to face) this challenge. It is something I see in my interactions with the SAP Business ByDesign team. I met with some of the BYD team yesterday and said that what's needed is an internal brain transplant. It's not a comfortable message and given the past mis-steps it doesn't surprise they are being ultra cautious. However, SAP doesn't want Workday doing a Salesforce end run around its customer base. The question is how they prevent that.

Workday on the other hand doesn't have the encumbrances of a legacy mindset. I'm starting to believe that's true despite the fact Workday's bench is stuffed with PeopleSoft alumni. The way the company is thinking around analytics and fast track driving of applications across multiple devices seems at a pace that makes SAP look glacial.

If you listen to Aneel, you'll hear him mention 'innovation' once. That's the opposite of incumbent competitors who seem to inject the 'i' word at every other sentence. It's almost as though they think that if they don't then people will regard them as laggardly. The flip side is that sooner or later, listeners become fatigued. Instead, Aneel concentrates on the problems the company is trying to solve which to my mind is far more useful. In contrast to the empty calories of some vendors, Workday is serving a full feast.

In my last post, I said the Workday Tech day was a high speed, high octane event with plenty of back and forth. In the next video, you hear Aneel fielding questions around reporting. Hopefully that gives you a flavor of the event. Too often reporting has been an afterthought. Workday has been baking in analytics from the get go. From what we saw, performance is super fast except for when they need to run a 10,000 period end journal entry. That consumes a 7 second screen refresh. I may be overly picky but that would 'feel' like an eternity.


More analysis:

Brian Sommer's morning outline

Brian Sommer's afternoon refresh

Zoli Erdos's firehose report

VInnie Mirchandani's What an exhilarating Workday

Josh Greenbuam's SaaS discussion

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