Last week I attended the analyst event organized along with Workday Rising 2012 conference. Workday Rising is Workday’s (previous CloudAve coverage)(Disclosure: Workday is the sponsor of CloudAve and this is my own personal opinion but they paid for my travel and stay) user conference and it was their attempt to interact closely with their customers and potential customers. In fact, they keep media and analysts out of the event so that they can have frank conversation with their customers. This is the first year they allowed analysts to have a peek during the first day of the conference. For me, it was the analyst event prior to the conference that was interesting and I will list out my thoughts in this post.
- Workday has been steadily growing ever since I have started following them and the trajectory seems to be getting better with each year.
- One aspect of Workday which impressed me was how they have used Business Process Framework to seamlessly integrate governance into the fabric of their platform. In fact, I would attribute this to be one of the biggest reasons why enterprises are comfortable using Workday for financials.
- On New Announcements: Apart from the customer driven product enhancements like time tracking and custom objects (for extensibility), Workday announced some new features which shows where they are heading in the future. The three important announcements are Workday Workgroups (their first step at social), Workday Big Data Analytics (their attention towards big data) and Workday Recruiting (a way to extend Workday’s HR to recruitment). This clearly shows the direction they are headed in the short term.
- Workday Workgroups is not your regular enterprise social tool but a first baby step to build conversation around Workday objects which can come handy for the enterprises. In fact, in the position paper we published in January of 2012 on enterprise software, we have argued that social should be built into the fabric of enterprise software than deploying it as an afterthought in terms of an add-on. Workday’s foray into social appears to be consistent with this expectation and it will be interesting to see where they are headed in the coming years.
- Workday Big Data Analytics is another interesting announcement for me. Workday is the enterprise social graph and it is critical for organizations to leverage this social graph with the data they have amassed to gain valuable insights which may not be available otherwise. In this regard, their new analytics offering is interesting to me. Workday is leveraging Hadoop to offer this Big Data Analytics platform which will let their customer import their organization’s data into Workday cloud to do the analytics. I am still not clear how organizations can bring in their historical data without facing significant delays as import over the internet faces the network latency which is not going to go away anytime soon. I hope they are offering other options like “mailing in the data” much like AWS offers to their customers. We will have to wait and see how they are going to handle this. Even though I am pretty excited about Big Data Analytics offering, I am a bit disappointed that they do not offer a solid application development / integration platform which will let users build apps using the data. I am not even talking about app development platforms like CloudFoundry. I fully understand that Workday is focussing not on developers but on business users who expect a simplified user interface. But they could offer a business process platform like Orangescape (previous CloudAve coverage) or Visual Force tools from Salesforce. This will give business users build interesting applications using both the enterprise social graph and the big data that is being on boarded to Workday cloud. Yes, users can still take advantage of this data on Force.com platform but it will be better if there is a platform closer to where data is than elsewhere.
- I have been following their infrastructure since 2011 and they updated on the changes they have made during this year’s analyst event. Since it is under NDA, I cannot go into the details but all I can say is that their infrastructure evolves to take advantage newer technologies. Unlike some other SaaS vendors, they don’t patch work their infrastructure to meet the growing demands but, rather, they evolve their infrastructure to meet modern needs. They have two European Datacenters to meet the needs of organizations who are unwilling to put their data inside US borders. They also have plans to expand to more locations on the need basis.
- One of the criticism about Workday is that they don’t offer REST based access to their data. It will be changing soon.
These are some of my thoughts on the event and I am looking forward to hearing from them early next year on the newer enhancements to their product.