Workday signs Walmart, a 2m-seat SAP SuccessFactors account [UPDATED]

Phil Wainewright Profile picture for user pwainewright January 11, 2017
Cloud HCM pureplay Workday has signed a deal with retail giant Walmart, a SAP SuccessFactors customer with a 2 million-strong global workforce

Enterprise cloud application vendor Workday today confirmed that it has added retail giant Walmart to its customer list for HCM applications. While no details are known of the extent of the contract, Walmart's global employee base comprises around 2.2 million people.

The revelation came after the release of a note written by William Blair financial analyst Justin Furby, in which he speculated that a contract across the retailer's entire global workforce would make it five times larger than any of Workday's existing accounts — "by far the largest company Workday has ever signed."

As Workday's stock price soared over 8% on the report earlier today, trading was halted and the company was obliged to file a terse 8-K statement:

Workday, Inc. (“Workday”) announced that Wal-mart Stores, Inc., a worldwide retailer, has purchased a subscription to Workday Human Capital Management, Recruiting, Learning and Planning. Workday is not updating its financial guidance for the fourth quarter of the current fiscal year ending January 31, 2017 or for the fiscal year ending January 31, 2018.

Walmart currently uses SAP HCM and SuccessFactors. It signed up for a 2.1 million roll-out of SuccessFactors in 2010 after completing a two-year trial with 300,000 employees. It has been using SAP for back-office systems since 2007, although that implementation appears to be still ongoing — on stage at the SAPphire show in May 2015 to talk about its use of SAP HANA analytics, CIO Karenann Terrell joked that she hoped Walmart would finish its SAP implementation “in my lifetime.”

We asked Workday for comment. We were told the company has "nothing to add beyond the information in the 8-K" at this time.

[UPDATE] In what may be related news, The Wall Street Journal yesterday reported that Karenann Terrell is stepping down as CIO of Walmart, five years after she took up the role in February 2012. The company says it will announce new technology leadership "shortly". It's a year since Walmart brought its various tech and development teams under a single management structure, with a further shake-up after completion of the acquisition in November.

My take

Given the two-year evaluation that SuccessFactors previously went through and Workday's statement today that there's no update to its financial guidance for the 2018 fiscal year that's about to start, it seems unlikely that Workday's going to roll out to anything other than a small proportion of the Walmart workforce in the near future.

But the fact that Walmart has signed up not only for the core Workday HCM system but also the companion applications of Recruiting, Learning and Planning is still a major coup for the cloud pureplay, even if it's just a trial for now. Walmart has been investing strongly in analytics capabilities in recent years, which may explain why the relatively new collaborative Planning tool has been included in the deal.

The deal also provides further substance to Workday CEO Aneel Bhusri's assertion back in November that the company is winning deals from SAP customers, including some where implementations have failed to scale. Of course, that's an assertion that has to be backed up by demonstrating that Workday can scale. Walmart certainly provides sufficient scale to test its capacity.

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