At the tail end of Workday Rising 2017, I had a long Twitter conversation with Paul Wright, CIO Accuride. I wanted to get his sense of the customer product sessions at Rising. I've known Paul from the days he talked about his company's Plex implementation (see video at the end of this story) and because I knew Accuride is a Workday customer long before he appeared on the keynote stage during the opening day at Rising. What's more, Jon Reed sat down with Paul and got his take on the Plex/Workday environment. At the time, Jon noted that:
Wright shared a “future state” of Accuride’s IT vision, which includes visibility across systems for improved reporting and planning, and moving from a fixed chart of accounts to a multi-dimensional approach for flexibility of analysis. And yes, automation of HR and FIN processes to free up strategic time.
Taken together, this is an evolving story that diginomica has followed for several years. From a buyer's perspective, Paul represents the kind of reference customer you should be looking to hear and meet. He is open in his views about what works and what doesn't. During Rising, I heard Paul go slightly off piste when he talked about the relationship with Workday post-sales as being just as 'nice' as in the pre-sales time. Anyone who heard that will know there wasn't a trace of irony only pleased surprise. That got my attention.
On Twitter, I asked about the audience composition in sessions, the quality of knowledge on display and more general question about customer readiness for all the new stuff, especially around data and benchmarking. Here is what he said:
I sat in on a few sessions around planning and one around global HR compliance. All the sessions I attended were presented by Workday, specifically the product management team. I’d say the biggest difference between Rising and Powerplex was that at no point did I feel here that I’d have to teach the PM the concepts of what we were trying to do as a global org.
I was very impressed with the quality of the answers and the knowledge they had on their current limitations, and a timeline around when any gaps would be closed. I normally would only attend customer driven sessions, and I think those would have been great too, but as I’m so new to Workday I wanted to get my knowledge from as close to the horses mouth as possible.
To answer your specific question I think the customers are ready, willing and able to adopt all the technology coming at them. The questions were solid from the audience around the complexities they have in their business, and there were people in the session from all kinds of verticals. The PMs weren’t stumped by anyone. I heard similar stories from my guys who were in sessions around HR, prism analytics, and PaaS. My team was very impressed by how they constructed the open platform, and can’t wait to play with it, we’ve already got some apps in mind.
I’d say it was more users than straight techies, but as techies we’d have liked more techy sessions, some we wanted were full up. We’re signed up for benchmarking, not sure how valuable it’ll be just yet, but, the fact it’s included in subscription de risks that for us. I think as we take on our next acquisition it’s potentially a big deal though.
My reading is that the on stage messaging aligns well with the detail. An important proof point.
It turns out that Accuride is Workday's first live Financial Performance Management (FPM) customer taking non-Workday data into consolidation and planning who is also willing to discuss the experience. That environment is a mixed mode Workday, Plex and SAP BusinessOne environment. Paul said the data mapping was 'no issue' and that for the longer term, he wants to include Oracle Sales Cloud data. That will allow for a much richer operational picture.
Add in Prism and PaaS and now you've really got something to talk about.
Paul Wright is steering his company's IT into the 21st century on a multi-year path using modern, best in class applications and services. It is not therefore surprising to hear him excited about the possibilities to come. My guess is that the environment he outlined will be fairly typical of the type of customer Workday attracts with its FPM solution. That creates an interesting situation for companies that acquire existing technologies. Will they use Workday FPM as the glue and leave those ERP systems in place or will they migrate out to additional Workday instances? What about Oracle in this scenario? Do they get shut out in favor of Salesforce, Workday's preferred CRM partner? Only time will tell.
One thing is certain - the future focus among IT professionals is all about using the data from as many systems as possible to support the business across a wide variety of disciplines. In that sense, solutions like Workday FPM act as a central hub. Contrary to vendor rhetoric in ERP, CRM, SCM etc, the focus of attention is less on the centrality of operational functions as indicators of excellence (although those remain important) and more on the data that comes out and that in turn is used for decision making purposes.
Bonus points - my conversation with Paul Wright, Accuride at PowerPlex 2015