Update – Both Infor and Concur have similar deals announcing today as well – details to come

Update #2 – I spent time with Workday during the event to get a deeper understanding of what the force.com part of this deal actually means. Essentially Workday will use force.com for customers who wish to make advanced customizations on their Workday instance, beyond that which is possible within Workday itself. Workday intends to implement this on an “as demanded basis” that is the data types and APIs which are most requested by customers will be the first to be created.

When salesforce announced their acquisition of Heroku at last year’s DreamForce, many claimed that it would spell the end for force.com as a platform. People failed to see how two platforms, albeit one focused on common data and the other on automating DevOps, could survive under the aegis of one company. These doubts seems to have been unjustified and much discussion has ensued about what I’m calling a bifurcated PaaS landscape. Theory however is one thing, proof is another.

Well today we’re seeing the proof of continuing value for force.com with the pretty massive news that Workday has chosen to use Force.com as their own development platform – in doing so they forego the potential benefits of creating a platform themselves (as, for example, NetSuite have done) but gain from the efficiencies and integration benefits of being part of force.com.

Not only have they decided to forego their own PaaS play in favor of utilizing force.com, but they have embarked on a social strategy that sees them adopt Chatter for their two million or so end users as a collaboration and communication tool.

Through the partnership, Workday will deliver:


  • Salesforce Chatter and Workday Integration: Moving traditional workday processes into a real-time stream
  • Custom Force.com App Leveraging Workday Data: Workday customers, partners and developers will be able to pull workforce data residing within their Workday application into Force.com to build custom apps

While this is a pre-announcement and actual functionality isn’t due to roll out for a few months, this feels very different from major partnerships announced at previous DreamForce events (VMforce for example). Workday had an analyst summit the day before DreamForce which, due to an unfortunate communication breakdown I was unable to attend. However in talking to folks who attended the event – Workday fully realize the momentum that salesforce has built and the benefits to be gained out of leveraging a common data model and development paradigm between the two applications.

It’s a very interesting partnership and one that raises a bunch of questions for other players – notable NetSuite and FinancialForce. For NetSuite it calls into question the strategy of creating their own platform, especially given the headstart that salesforce has within the enterprise. Time will tell whether a platform based around an ERP as opposed to a CRM has sufficient extra value to see it gain momentum despite force.com’s incumbency.

In the case of FinancialForce however, a financial application also built upon the force.com platform (and partially owned by salesforce) it signals something of a threat, especially given Workday’s stated ambition to move into more fully featured financial software – arguably a robust financial package from Workday that gives businesses the ability to create custom apps on force.com, ready to be integrated with salesforce obviates the value proposition that FinancialForce has enjoyed thus far.

No matter which way these partnership rumblings lead, today’s news is a significant fillup to the credibility of force.com and should keep the naysayers quiet for a while.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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