Workday Rising C-Suite Panel: Platform solutions, partner evolutions & innovation revolutions

Workday staged a C-suite panel discussion session at Workday Rising Europe 2022 this year in Stockholm, Sweden and ERP Today attended to drink in from the firehose.

Speakers included: Chano Fernandez, co-CEO – Pete Schlampp, chief strategy officer – Sayan Chakraborty, EVP of product & strategy – Sheri Rodes, EVP chief customer officer – Sam Alkharrat, chief partner officer – and Patricia Harris in her role as SVP of solution and revenue marketing.

Starting off with some customer focus, Fernandez spoke about the effects and affects of the pandemic and said that this company had stood back to think about its core values and take a number of measures to make sure employees (and customers) got the best possible outcome from the period ahead of them.

Five foundations

Thinking about where Workday goes next as it moves towards the $10bn dollar mark as a business, Schlampp pointed to 5 key areas:

  1. An energized customer base that really recognizes satisfaction and positively states that they want to buy more products from Workday on an overall basis.
  2. Internationally, Workday is a US-based company that is expanding internationally and now reaps some 30 percent of its revenue from overseas markets with EMEA being the key growth area.
  3. Mid-size enterprise is a key area for growth.
  4. Industry (and the firm’s recently announced additional industry accelerators) is also key for Workday, the company’s business is shifting from HCM only to a wider transept of competencies, the ability to deliver industry-specific tools is key.
  5. Partners will also be a key element of this whole equation.

Talking about the changing nature of how partners are working more specifically, Sayan Chakraborty explained how Workday’s current ecosystem consists of some 400 partners – a group made up of Systems Integrators (SIs) and other key go-to-market organizations that he says help Workday amplify its approach to innovation.

“Going to market with our partners – especially here in EMEA where there are coverage gaps and [human] language-specific needs for support – is especially amplified in this region due to the invaluable role they give us. Service is also a key element of the way partners help our customers achieve success — before sales, but especially after-sales – and so we are working to develop a new certification program that we have already had extremely positive feedback on so far,” enthused Chakraborty.

Systematically scaled-out software

Discussing the evolution of the Workday platform itself, Sam Alkharrat explained how the firm has worked to evolve from a monolith vertically scaled application to now become a horizontally-scaled out technology proposition so that no single line of code still exists in the current iteration of the platform.

Turning to the Q&A session attached to this breakout event, Fernandez and team spoke about the need to give customers ‘quicker time to value’ in the market today. The message here is that despite all the digitization and automation out there, talent still matters and so HCM comes to the fore time and time again.

Schlampp noted that the currently (still disruptive) economic environment is just about handling another change… so the focus for Workday is certainly one where the firm is looking at its portfolio in order to create that ‘time to value’ factor that customers will naturally want to achieve across their data, application and all other business lifecycles.

Facing questions from analysts and press in an attempt to validate how the nuances of its platform really work, the Workday C-suite spokespersons were questioned on how it is acting to fend off market loss to its competitors.

Talking openly and (arguably) honestly, co-CEO Fernandez suggested that where contracts squeeze things extremely tightly, Workday may in some cases take something of the hit on pricing and profits at its own end of the financial chain. “These are customer relationships that we have built for the long term,” he said, suggesting that the firm may help some customers ride out part of the disruption wave.

The road ahead

When pressed on its goal to become a $10bn dollar company from what is today a position where the firm is likely to close out 2022 at just over $6bn, the board were asked whether they thought there was scope in the market i.e. given that Workday already has half of the Fortune 500, can it really and reasonably expect to be able to get the second half of its market value goal from the other half? That is, surely not all of those other firms are even available as customers and so – logically – doesn’t Workday need to think about diversifying its platform out into new capabilities?

Not willing to be drawn into speculative areas of either customer or product development not necessarily relevant to the specific context of this discussion, the panel said that, look, the road ahead is the goal and that the firm remains adaptable to working with whatever shape the market ultimately represents.

The Workday Rising event hashtag is #WDAYRISING and Workday tweets at this link.