At the Workday Rising event being held in Las Vegas this week, Workday announced the latest version of its product, on top of which they held an analyst/influcner day that I was following remotely. I’ve got a few thoughts about the analyst day but first a recap of the news. The update brings new capabilities to Workday Financial Management, workforce collaboration, mobile, performance management, and the core Workday platform itself. A quick list of major changes or developments is pasted below, but in order to save the scrolling finger of those who want my quick analysis, I’ve included this above the product announcements.


I’ve said for a long time, what we’re seeing from Workday is very much the tip of the iceberg. This is a company with the pedigree, the runway and the credibility to deliver a broad set of enterprise-level functionalities across finance and HR that could well see it become one of the most important enterprise IT vendors in future. I do question there “best buddy” status with Salesforce and I foresee a day when that relationship become more strained. Workday is being careful to de-emphasize the social enterprise messaging, and is also not talking about a broad development platform. Rather it couches its vision of these two areas in terms of collaboration and customization respectively. For the next few years that is a viable message but I strongly believe that there is some significant strategy and development work taking place behind the scenes that will allow Workday to breakout with its own truly social function set and also a development platform that moves far beyond customizations.

Workday is being very smart to focus on adoption rather than implementation of its product. it’s a theme my ever-prescient friend Mike Krigsman wrote about in a whitepaper he published alongside Appirio. Krigsman talks about lack of adoption being one of the key indicators of impending IT failure. From the vendor side adoption is vitally important, and even more so in a less locked-in subscription based world, for adoption is the key factor that helps broaden the footprint an IT vendor has within an organization. In light of this, workday’s “Virtual Consultant”, a kind of automated configuration tool, is a very key strategy for the company to increase their “land and expand” approach to adoption.

Part of the tool is some benchmarking functionality that allows customers to be benchmarked across their peers (at least in terms of the configuration). Zoli Erdos has been writing about this “hidden business model in SaaS” or years, the fact that vendors can anonymize and aggregate data in order to send customers highly contextual benchmarking information. While this benchmarking function is only being talked about as part of a configuration automation tool, you can bet Workday is thinking of it far deeper than that.

Finally Workday demoed it “Worktags” functionality worktags are a way to deliver super-flexible reporting across different divisions or business units. A way I look at it is that it introduces a degree of “unstructure” to highly structured (and hence generally siloed) data. It’s a topic that many people have been thinking about and, at least in the SMB space, has led some to say that the best approach to financial data is to completely do away with charts of accounts and traditional hierarchical structures. The concept of worktags is interesting is that it should be able to deliver a solution that has the best parts of rigid structure (clarity, control, audit) with the benefits of more loose approaches to data (insights, analysis).

As I said at the start – the stuff we’re seeing from Workday is the tip of the iceberg – the next few years (and beyond) are going to be an incredibly interesting time for the company – btoh in terms of technology and business.

Advancing Financial Management Globally and Vertically
Workday continues to advance its Financial Management application in the cloud to bring more global capabilities to large, multinational organizations, together with advanced industry-specific functionality. In this update, new global capabilities include enhanced global tax support, more international payment formats, and more powerful real-time reporting across divisions and business units for multi-national organizations. Workday 18 also includes powerful industry-specific functionality for education and government, including Grants Management and fund accounting, driving reporting and compliance. Finally, Workday combines financial and workforce measures enabling project scenario planning so organizations can efficiently model the right resources for the right work.

Advancements to Workday Financial Management include:

  • Enhanced global tax and payment support gives customers the ability to support partial tax recoverability and tax regimes with mixed recoverable and non-recoverable tax rates, while enriched international payment formats provide greater and more efficient reach to different regions.
  • Expanded reporting using Worktags on dimensions such as Division or Business Unit provides even more flexible real-time reporting for multi-national organizations.
  • Project scenario planning leverages Workday’s unified HCM and Financial Management applications, so that managers can allocate resources seamlessly across projects with details that include cost, worker availability, skills, and experience.
  • Grants Management and fund accounting for education and government organizations deliver clear visibility into grant activity, improved compliance with grantor reporting requirements and enable the monitoring of the use of funds to help ensure they are segregated appropriately.

Keeping the Workforce Engaged with More Collaboration and Mobile Features
New mobile devices and collaboration technologies continue to redefine the workplace and give organizations new opportunities to connect and engage their workforces to drive productivity, efficiency, and results. Workday brings the best of both worlds into Workday 18. New features include:

  • A new professional profile that unites talent and professional information into a single unified view, so employees can manage their own information such as education and experience and import it directly from their LinkedIn profile.
  • Team profile for iPad® lets managers see key team information and composition, including a team calendar, team members, compensation, and performance summaries, all from a tablet.
  • Building on the Time Tracking functionality introduced in Workday 17, workers can also now check in and out from any mobile device or web-browser with ease.

New Tools to Maximize Performance Management
Human resources teams, managers, and executives now have the most powerful tools at their fingertips to maximize pay for performance, prepare talent for the future, and act proactively on worker trends. With performance and talent calibration, it’s easy for a group of managers to collaborate and ensure consistency on the performance and talent ratings of their teams.

In addition, worker trending analytics can enable monitoring of key workforce metrics over time in areas such as headcount, worker activity data, and attrition and turnover, enabling proactive workforce management.

Increasing Platform Flexibility
Workday delivers on its promise to drive enterprise-class configurability and flexibility in the cloud with new custom field management that makes it simple to easily tailor Workday to unique business requirements. Configurations automatically carry forward with each update and give customers the power to easily adapt Workday to their specific businesses needs.

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.

  • James Beattie |

    Workday’s latest version, version 19 is here now. I’m a Kiwi that has been working with the product for 6 months in the USA and this is the 3rd release in that time.

    There is always a lot to absorb with a new update as Workday continues to enhance and push new functionality.

    Mobile, Financials, Time Tracking get a number of new features. HCM gets some strong headcount planning building blocks which will lead to tighter integration with Financials in future releases is my guess.

    Printable actionable PDF organisation charts are a subtle HCM feature, that works seamlessly.

    Exciting times in the Workday space, hope Workday gains a foothold in NZ in 2013.

  • Worktags aren’t really any different from what Microsoft Dynamics does with “Dimensions” are they?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.