Meg Bear was recently appointed Senior Vice-President of Products at SAP SuccessFactors and I had the opportunity to chat with her while she was in Paris meeting with customers. Meg brings a wealth of HCM product expertise to SAP, so I kicked off the interview with a question about her experience.
Please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your background.
I’m a California native and I’ve spent my whole career in tech, starting out with ERP technology many years ago. I also spent 12 to 13 years in HCM technology, first with Saba for learning and performance management, then with PeopleSoft. I was with Oracle for 10 years and helped move HR to the cloud. I eventually made my way into the tech startup world where I explored the impact of technology on the employee and customer experience. There are big shifts happening in technology and business today, and there’s also a significant uptick of companies moving from on-premise to cloud, which presents both interesting challenges to solve and even greater opportunities.
Where do you see HR technology going over the next few years and beyond?
The trends in technology fall across a few dimensions. First, I often hear people talk about Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). But I like to talk about automation and making people more efficient by using information to provide insights and enhance capability. Action is important. You need to figure out what is going on and what to do about it.
Second, when I think about where business is going, I see several different types of agile transformations. Organizations are recognizing that the market dynamics and business landscapes are changing, and they have to react to effectively compete. Against this dynamic and changing landscape, technology can help drive greater agility and productivity. As you look at the changing forces you need to be able to react quickly. Whether that is changing how your business is run operationally, or accelerating your reach through M&A or making the decision to go after a new line of business, all of these things require the HR function to have agility to mobilize people toward those new business objectives.
The last theme that’s especially important to us at SAP SuccessFactors is human experience management (HXM), which we introduced to the market in September at SuccessConnect. HXM leverages the power of the workforce – including the external workforce – to answer the calls of these new business trends. It’s about bringing experience data (X-data) in and combining it with operational data (O-data) from an organization’s HR system to get a complete picture of what is happening on the ground. With experience data, you can get feedback from individuals at every moment in the employee lifecycle. Having the ability to combine the ‘what’ with operational data and the ‘why’ with experience data can help HR and business leaders understand what is working and what isn’t so they can take action to address the gaps. Bringing the X and O data together is what makes the SAP SuccessFactors HXM Suite really powerful.
What is your vision for SAP SuccessFactors?
A market leader like SAP SuccessFactors has an obligation to its customers. We have more than 6,800 global customers and have long-term relationships with many of them. Some have been with us through several product journeys and are now moving to the cloud with SAP SuccessFactors, as well as other SAP applications.
Given the breadth and depth of our customer base, HXM is not only a differentiator for SAP SuccessFactors, but it will be something that impacts businesses globally. We are already part of our customers’ digital transformations to help them be more agile to the market conditions they’re working in. Imagine what’s possible for these organizations when they put employees and the workforce at the center of their transformations. It’s about creating a culture that is thoughtful about change and that makes change something that is built into the lifecycle of how business works without significant disruption. HXM will be how businesses of the future will measure their success.
How do you see human experience management becoming an integral part of HR and SAP SuccessFactors?
HXM is the future of our industry. For businesses to achieve what they need to against the acceleration of market forces, they need to be able to leverage the intellect of the entire workforce and apply that toward business results. In other words, HXM is how business will work going forward. The best businesses will leverage people as their most important competitive advantage.
What commitments can you give to customers around listening to their feature requests and incorporating them into the roadmap and product?
We take customer feedback very seriously. Listening to their needs and engaging with them on their business needs helps us support them with the right technology where they need it.
I also acknowledge that the enhancement request platform has not had the transparency and process that it needs to be most effective. But we also host a lot of other customer programs. We do co-creation and design reviews with a large number of customers of all sizes. Some sessions are geared toward working through specific designs and others are focused on talking to customers about our longer-term vision. Through these programs, customers interact with us directly and help us shape the vision and the roadmaps of our products. We regularly receive positive feedback and they feel very engaged with our roadmap process.
We will continue to work to improve the transparency of our influence request program and give customers more clarity on where we’re investing and better transparency on both our vision (HXM) and our product investment priorities.
How are you looking at integration within the SAP SuccessFactors HXM suite? Where do you see the pain points that need to be addressed?
One of the big bets we’re making in our upcoming release is architecture. This for two reasons:
- To scale up for public cloud and work in hyperscaler environments
- To scale our product capabilities with resiliency, performance and reliability as we continue to grow
We’re investing to future-proof our architecture, and services are a big piece of it. Our vision is to open up our platform even more for a broader ecosystem – not just for integration with SAP products, but also with third parties for to offer more innovations to our customers and partners.
What are some of the near-term objectives for SAP SuccessFactors?
We are focused on bringing HXM to life, spending time collaborating and co-creating with our customers to deliver the most comprehensive and engaging human experience management platform in the market.