Along with about 16,000 other people, I am just back from the 2012 ASUG-and SAPPHIRE Annual conference in Orlando and collecting my thoughts to share with all of you. Under the categories of cloud and human capital management, the buzz was all about Success Factors – that über-sexy looking software that most of us know as SAP’s former competitor in the Talent Management area. I had the good fortune to hear Lars Dalgaard – founder and CEO of Success Factors — speak to a group of HR business leaders about the transformation underway to bring these two software companies together.
Is Lars the “real deal?” someone asked me. In my opinion, yes, he is. During this informal conversation with Lars, he was casual, relaxed, and – yes – very, very tired of the questions about SAP and Success Factors integration. As he took his chair on the stage in the conference room, he quipped that there would be no integration, that they had abandoned the very word. He had spent long days talking about the integration piece and knew that was the first question on everyone’s minds. Despite his banter, he did address the issue head on and articulated his confidence in the development team he assembled to bring SAP and SuccessFactors together. Lars exhibits many of the qualities associated with successful business leaders in this new era of constant change: innovation, creativity, a strong sense of self and the ability to understand his workforce and maximize their capabilities.
But how is this all going to fit in at SAP? Is there, in fact, a roadmap for all this change? The privileged participants at SAP’s Executive Leadership forum in Orlando last week got the straight talk from Steve Winter, SAP’s Executive Vice President for HCM Solutions.
- Yes, there will be integration of the 176 integration points SAP and SuccessFactors developers have identified.
- No, you will not need to switch your SAP installation to SuccessFactors.
- The key message is Choice. Customers of SAP now have a choice of all on-premise products for HCM, a full cloud deployment of HCM, or a Hybrid combining the best of both worlds.
- The most critical phases of integration are underway now and progressing along a timeline thru 2013.
The new relationship being forged is sure to benefit SAP’s products as well as the SuccessFactors products. But it is going to take some time to get there.
It’s going to take some time to merge these two distinct company cultures. It’s going to take some time to get all of the sales people delivering the message as I outlined it above. It’s going to take time for developers raised under Lars’ agile learning environment to work with developers who are more accustomed to the bureaucracy and slow-turning inner gears of a company the size of SAP.
But the two companies are wasting no time in working to make these things happen. On the developer front, SAP developers in Walldorf are working long-distance with SuccessFactors developers in San Mateo, California. While at the conference, I participated in a usability study on generation 3 of SuccessFactors’ Employee Central Application. The session was led jointly by a Walldorf developer and a San Mateo developer. I won’t say that the two developers appeared comfortable being part of one company yet — but the efforts to merge the best practices of two distinct companies are showing progress.
On the sales front, it’s not so clear how SAP and Success Factors will align their respective staffs around a common message. It was clear in speaking to other customersthat individuals had come away from discussions with sales people with the sense that Talent Management had to or should be deployed on SuccessFactors. A common miscommunication to potential customers is that customers would not want to invest in their on-premise SAP software for Talent Management since SAP is not going to develop it any further. While that’s a nice sales pitch for SuccessFactors and cloud software, it is a dangerously slippery slope for SAP’s future in the HCM world. SAPcannot afford to alienate existing customers by allowing them to think for one minute that their current investment in on-premise software is no longer a viable platform for expansion and growth. Cloud comes with a pricetag of it’s own and the jury is still out on whether or not going to the cloud makes economic sense for each company. In fact, Steve Winter and Irene Ortiz-Glass (VP for SAP’s HCM Center of Excellence) emphasized that each customer would have their own roadmap — there is no single solution, no “one size fits all” approach.
Lars put it most succinctly when he said “They said Video would kill the radio star…but it didn’t…I still listen to the radio all the time.” The radio didn’t go away – and neither will SAP HCM on-premise. Stay tuned to this radio dial for more information as the integration — er, collaboration — story between SAP and SuccessFactors unfolds.
*Video Killed The Radio Star
by one-hit wonder, The Buggles