Workday steps up predictive analytics game, launches Insight Applications

Generally available in 2015, Workday's Insight Applications are designed to enable better decisions around expenses, worker retention, scorecards and career paths.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Workday on Tuesday launched Insight Applications, a suite that provides analytics via machine learning algorithms and data science.

The human capital management and financials software company is the latest to offer analytics as a service in some form. Workday's plan is to use a mobile first approach and tackle business scenarios with recommendations so execs can make decisions on the fly.


Workday's latest effort on the analytics front was rolled out at Workday Rising, the company’s user conference. A predictive analytics engine called SYMAN, powers Insight Applications. SYMAN has access to Workday's data and foundation and will power features across the platform with simulations, matching algorithms, recommendations, predictions and relevance.

Insight Applications, which will be available in 2015, are designed to model past and current business activity with data visualization tools. Workday's analytics tools come from the acquisition earlier this year of Identified and the data science talent that came with it. The goal is to predict future business outcomes to take advantage of opportunities and cut risk levels.

Features includes:

  • Use of historical Workday data as well as sources of non-Workday information in the recommendation engine.
  • Integration with Workday Financials and Human Capital Management without data warehousing, cleansing and business intelligence. SYMAN maps data across multiple sources and data structures. Notifications can be delivered to any device.
  • Machine learning based on accuracy of predictions and recommendations as well as the ability to find patterns.
  • Preconfigured job taxonomies by industry. Dan Beck, vice president of technology products, Workday, said that classifications of data are the most difficult part of the analytics process. "Classification and making sense of data is the hard part," said Beck.

The best way to see where Workday is going is through an example. The following screens show retention risk at a company and one IT helpdesk worker who is likely to leave. Through the analysis, it's clear the worker needs a job change, but to where? Workday's simulation, based on 25 years of historical data, indicates that a move to IT operations increases the retention risk. A move to software engineering means the employee stays.


That approach follows through to a series of simulations for everything from expense management to financials to career path recommendations. Pricing for Insight Applications wasn't disclosed.

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