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SuccessFactor’s Success Factors: Questions in Search of Answers
Josh Greenbaum
SEP 15, 2014 01:27 AM
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I’m heading to the SuccessFactors user conference, SuccessConnect, in Las Vegas this week and, as a prelude to the conference, here’s some of the questions I’m looking to have answered during the course of the conference.

1.    What are you going to do to blunt the market impact of Workday and start earning the revenues and market share gains that SAP is counting on? Workday – aka. the second coming of Dave Duffield – is being way too effective in the SAP customer base, particularly with an HRMS audience that loved Duffield at PeopleSoft and are ready to love him all the more at Workday. Oracle is giving both companies a good push by continuing its policy of making the move from PeopleSoft to Fusion expensive, complex, and onerous, but it seems that Workday is the main beneficiary, not SAP. I’m sure the board of SAP was hoping that spending $3.4 billion in 2011 for SuccessFactors would have given it more market share and mindshare against Workday by now. Is it time to shift strategy a little?

2.    How are you going to better define the hybrid cloud opportunity for SAP customers and, in particular, make a sane and reasoned case for HANA to the HRMS/ talent management crowd? We all know that all hands are on deck at SAP trying to push the HANA strategy to the masses, and, like your product line, HANA needs to be a little more successful than it has been to date. It’s a safe bet that you’re going to talk about HANA, I’m looking for those great use cases that help customers get off the fence about HANA.

3.    How well are you really integrated with the rest of SAP? I still see successfactors.com email addresses, and I know from my many SAP briefings that not everyone at SAP knows what SuccessFactors is up to and vice versa. If you go back to the Business Objects acquisition, one that was characterized by a high degree of autonomy being granted to the acquired company (and raising ironic speculation about who had acquired whom), it wasn’t until BobJ was fully integrated into SAP that SAP began to grab consistent top billing in the BI/analytics space. Is this the roadmap for HRMS/talent management and SuccessFactors too?

4.    How well are you going to articulate training and education as a differentiator, and how are you going to make that differentiation stick? I’m a big proponent of this capability as a major component of enterprise success across the board, and the fact the SuccessFactors has been finally coming together with the rest of SAP and its well-designed Learning Hub training and education offering is good, so far. But what’s next in education and training from SuccessFactors is key, and I’m looking forward to see if this could be a way to blunt the WorkDay effect.

There’s lots more questions to ask, this is just a start. The bottom line is that SuccessFactors needs to look and feel more successful, inside SAP and outside, and the time to start is now. I think Workday is vulnerable, and I think SAP and SuccessFactors could do better exploiting those vulnerabilities. I look forward to seeing this week how far they think they can go.

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