Whoa now!!! HOLD YOUR HORSES! (*American idiom for “wait” or “hold on”) No, I am not calling anyone “stupid” or trying to insult you. For those that may not know, Google engineer Steve Yegge made the now internet famous “it’s the platform, stupid!” accidental post, but his message rings true. (*look it up….good read!), and I think it applies quite well to the current state of the HCM SaaS market. Last week while attending the SAPinsider HR 2014 conference in Orlando, Florida, I talked to Matt Buckingham (regional sales manager for SuccessFactors) about what I was seeing now in the market and my thoughts on the “key differentiators”. This blog was born out of that discussion.
Anyone looking at the HCM software market over the past couple of years has noticed all the “new” players, old guard and disruptors jockeying for position. The most hyped among these were the new breed of SaaS/cloud golden boys. Initially, we saw all kinds of gaps in not only the functions and features supported in each product, but their overall maturity as well. More recently however, those gaps have for the most part closed. Many of the differentiators between products like SuccessFactors and Workday simply do not exist. It was getting to the point of deciding over one car color or the other…you might like red and I might like black…we just have our own opinion of which looks better…but at the end of the day, they both will get us to the same place. I will say again…it WAS getting to that point. Not now…that’s changed. There is now a very BIG differentiator between SuccessFactors and any other product in the market. What is this? All together now…
It’s the platform, stupid!!!
(*again, no insult meant haha)
With the enablement of SuccessFactors running on the HANA Cloud Platform, no one in my opinion can even come close now. It really is a “no brainer” if all things are considered equal (company size, budget, integration needs, etc).
Most people know of HANA as “that fast database thing” (due to poor initial SAP marketing…but I will blog/rant on that later…haha), and yes, SuccessFactors will benefit from the speed of the HANA “in-memory computing/database” capabilities. You will often hear/read how much faster those compensation reports will be on the HANA platform. That’s true but far from being the one and only deciding factor for anyone to choose SuccessFactors. However, the HANA platform is sooooo much more than that!!! (all of which SuccessFactors can, and will, leverage!) Here is just a little bit…
For those that don’t know, “predictive analytics” is actually about as close to telling the future as we have available today. Looking at “old” data in order to make “predictions” about future trends is nothing new. However, it is a combination of the amount of data we can now analyze and the speed at which we can do this that is the real key. In a nutshell, it is very “neat!”. haha Using the ability to not only store all of that great data we bring in (“big data” as some folks love to say and hear themselves say these days), but very quickly (again, the speed of HANA) analyze, we can now make predictions based on trends, patterns, etc. in that data. How will this play out for SuccessFactors? Well, of course, we have the existing analytics capabilities, and those get a little more “juiced up” on HANA. Now, however, we can do all kinds of modeling to get almost real time predictions. In the era of making HR departments more strategic, this is a huge win! Imagine all the workforce planning you can do now that simply wasn’t possible or took far too long before. How about compensation planning getting way easier??!?!? (*see how I mentioned compensation in there again? haha)
Text and Search
Doesn’t sound like much eh? But again, consider this when combined with the speed of HANA. You will be able to search documents (ex. resumes/CVs), Jam forums, etc. at the speed of light (ok, now I am starting to sound like a SAP marketing flunky….ick! haha). But seriously, all the “tons” of “unstructured data” will fall and bow down before you and call you King (or Queen) under HANA (oof…maybe too much “Game of Thrones” lately too! haha)
“Custom what-now?!?! Did he really just say custom development?!?!” Wasn’t this suppose to be a “no-no” or a “limited at best” notion with these types of cloud, multi-tenant solutions? Isn’t the thinking that because customers/tenants are basically sharing the same codebase that they have limited or no ability to make customized modifications? Not so with HANA! The HANA platform allows us to develop custom “extensions” for/to SuccessFactors. For me, this is a huge area of opportunity I am excited about (and see lots of work for a techy consultant like me! haha) Fellow SAP Mentor, Chris Paine, gave a brilliant presentation and demo at SAP TechED 2013 in Las Vegas called “CD105: Extending SuccessFactors EmployeeCentral with apps on the SAP HANA Cloud Platform”. I highly suggest you find it (and he did an interview with Luke Marson and Jon Reed called Talking HCP: Building SuccessFactors apps on the SAP HANA Cloud Platform that you should check out as well!)
I hesitate to even mention this for fear of getting too “SAP-ish”. Keep in mind, I think SuccessFactors wins on all merits on the HANA platform simply from a standalone perspective…the HANA Cloud integration (HCI) capabilities being one of them. However, if we look at integration with an existing SAP core HR system (on-premise or in the cloud as well), then again, it is a “no brainer”. This integration is just a given…not an afterthought but a key focal point for SAP. Making traditional SAP HR and SuccessFactors “play nice” together helps SAP on both ends at the end of the day, so it is in their best interest (and their shareholders as well). They have made a point to put in the time, effort and money to insure this pieces is “bullet proof”.
Again, this is just a small taste of what the HANA platform adds to SuccessFactors. As no other HCM SaaS solution vendor (I’m looking at you Workday! haha) is or will be on the HANA platform or anything even close, I can not see where or how those other vendors will manage to close this particular gap between what SuccessFactors offers and they do not/can not. In that regard in my opinion, it is no longer a “differenciator” but a DECIDER!