Workday rings the changes as it ramps product management and marketing with a significant reorganization

Profile picture for user gonzodaddy By Den Howlett December 11, 2019
It's all change at Workday as the company switches focus to a more product centric approach to the market with advanced analytics at the core.

Aneel Bhusri at Workday Rising EMEA 2019

During Workday Rising EMEA, CEO Aneel Bhusri told me about some executive changes he was planning. In Bhusri's mind, the company needs greater emphasis on product management and marketing. Today, the company announced those changes. They are both deep and wide. 

Before continuing, any significant executive shuffle is often greeted with concern because in many cases it suggests weakness in the company that needs fixing. I don't see this reorganization that way. Instead, I note how Workday is using its tried, trusted and battle hardened executives to strengthen the firm's product and technology sections. The heads of technology and product report directly to Bhusri.

You get a sense of where Workday is heading when you understand how the reorganization is structured. In the last year, Workday has pushed Prism, its advanced analytics product. Pete Schlampp, who led that effort is now EVP product development (reporting directly to Bhusri) but with direct lines into each of the functional units i.e. HCM, financials, spend, student and planning. Alongside, Keith Bigelow returns to pick up where Schlampp left off. Bigelow has the experience at other firms to pick up where Schlampp left off. In short, Workday  is deadly serious about infusing everything that Workday offers with across the board advanced analytics that make use of ML in particular. 

Equally of note is that a year into the Adaptive Insights acquisition, Workday plans on integrating those teams into the main Workday environment with a change of leadership there too.Tom Bogan, who was CEO at Adaptive and has led that team since acquisition steps into a role with Scout but continues with an integration watching brief while Adaptive transitions. 

From the marketing side, we'd already heard that Leighanne Levensaler has moved to the CMO slot while keeping her hand on on Workday Ventures. I met with Leighanne at Rising just to get her immediate thoughts on the changes Workday is making. Only being a few days into post, there wasn't a great deal to be said but my view is here long and deep experience of Workday technology make her a great conduit for communicating the Workday product story in new and interesting ways. 

My take

I almost never write this type of story as it is often only of interest to tech industry insiders. In this case there is a clear play to business decision makers. For one thing, the shuffling of the deck should not bring excessive disruption since the key personnel have been with Workday a good while. On the other hand, I detect something of a generational refresh which can only be for the good. But for me, the most interesting thing will be observing how this plays out in terms of product direction - which we will quickly see in the release cycle and roadmaps - and the approach Workday takes to expanding its business message beyond focusing on the Power of One which has served them well at a technology level but now has to show its worth across all the functions Workday is serving.