The intersection between HR strategy and HR technology

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The Workday Promise (and Challenge)

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The fact that the market is excited about Workday would be an understatement.  Hype around this company’s products and functionality appear to be racing quite past reality and approach mythical levels.  Perhaps the confidence in the HR industry for Dave (Duffield) to deliver another great HR application is deservedly high.  Or perhaps the marketing of Workday is simply a lesson in how marketing should be done.  While I’d suggest that both might have some level of truth, there also seems to be an unrealistic expectation that customers have.

The promise of Workday was that they could reinvent applications and the way users interacted with them.  This was spectacularly show in their HR application where they completely redesigned the way they see the organization structure.  Many of us remember and still work with the rigid org structures that are in just about any HRMS system.  They become a unflexible way to manage security, workflow, reporting, etc.  However, in todays HR world that is driven more by cross functional and end to end processes, inflexible organization structures were a significant barrier to our ability to reinvent how we see other functionality.

The core areas of Workday’s HCM application (like the org structure and the core technology and UI) are great.  However, as they move into sales and marketing, the demand for their applications seems fairly high, and customers are beginning to demand more traditional functionality.  As buyers buy, they like the idea of a very innovative application, but they feel that they need the old functionality they have always had.  Workday is now in the situation where they wanted to do something very cool and different, but are needing to meet the realities of customer demands.  What will their talent management applications look like?  Will they have the opportunity to create something new and amazing (the way Taleo did) or will they cave to the cries of the customer?

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