Workday is not just a people platform, bet your bottom dollar on it

It may not be a household name, but the British-headquartered Equiniti is a global outsourcing business focused on financial and administration services. It is also a Workday customer, as explored at a recent Gartner summit in London.

Sitting down with Robert Bloor, financial controller at Equiniti Group and Tim Wakeford, Workday VP of financial product strategy, ERP Today examined Workday’s offering beyond HCM. The occasion was a CFO-focused Gartner conference, in which various vendors pitched their stand on all things tech, AI and financial related.

In our chat, Wakeford talks about Workday’s relatively new status as not only an ERP disruptor, but also as an FMS firebrand: “I still have to spend time telling CFOs that, yes, we do financials and that kind of stuff because – frankly – most CFOs did not spend their careers working on Workday.”

The VP sees Workday as the CFO app of choice for service-based organizations such as Equiniti. The mission ties in with the increasing tech-ification of the CFO role, and the automation of “mundane” tasks within the financial space.

“We have planning and analytics in the same platform. Some of it is architecture, some of it is machine learning […] with using machine learning to start to rate expense transactions. We do the same for coding on journal entries, looking for strange balances and values.”

This means a move away from validation and moving to changing the business process, as the AI “thinks and reroutes” with an influence more active than passive.

“We’ve seen AI subtly, in a non-threatening way, really help us move the business forward,” as Bloor said prior to our interview in a talk at the summit, whilst also stressing the importance of ensuring AI has clean and complete data to work from.

Workday on a world-scale

But away from the fancy AI stuff, Bloor rates Workday for how it underpins its global footprint, mentioning payroll and having a “common denominator for everything” in its worldwide operations.

Baked into Workday’s financial management suite are global requirements for financial reporting, whilst also, in Bloor’s words, a protection of “the local environment” through compartmentalization that comes without “contaminating the global structure of the product”.

Equiniti, like any other global business, is also concerned with hiring and retaining top talent in its countries of operations. Here Workday’s most famous features on the HR side come back into play, with Bloor pointing to the Peakon Employee Voice feature’s usefulness for carrying out workforce engagement surveys.

“It shone a light on things we’ve never looked at. The clarity that’s brought with facts and analytics means we’re able to target within the business talent we want to keep and a lack of talent that we don’t really want. We can drill into why folks are happy or unhappy, and what motivates them.”

A good way to make people happy is to remove those mundane tasks which Wakeford mentioned earlier.

“A lot of qualified accountants today don’t want to do what I did,” laughs the VP. “They don’t want to spend hours reconciling banks on spreadsheets; they want to know what’s next and how that’s going to help them.

“We have to deliver an engaging experience – otherwise our customers don’t attract, retain or cultivate that talent.”

The message to CFOs then is clear – financially savvy CTOs won’t take your jobs, but your people will leave their roles if you don’t employ the latest tech. Bet your bottom dollar on it.