There’s nothing simple about heading up IT for a global company like Flextronics, but you can understand Dave’s point.
There is nothing simple about enterprise software either, but as you build it, you have to do your best to make it simple for customers. This concept is especially important now considering the rapid pace of change in enterprise software. In the past two Workday updates, we’ve delivered:
While we’re not the only SaaS or traditional software vendor working on integration middleware, mobile solutions, or embedded business intelligence, I think Workday is the only vendor thinking about its cloud-based applications first when it delivers these kinds of solutions. Our first thought is always, “How do we make these new capabilities an integrated part of the application to keep things simple for our customers?”
It takes a lot of work. In the case of the Workday Integration Cloud, it took us a couple of years to blend Cape Clear’s Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) developer tools into our applications. We could have delivered the ESB and its related development tools as an appliance integrated to our offerings through our API (and in fact we started out that way three years ago), but we evolved our approach knowing customers would have to do yet another implementation before they could get going with application integration.
The same concept applies with mobile. We could have partnered with or acquired a sophisticated mobile platform to get Workday onto the iPad®, iPhone®, and other smartphones. For embedded business intelligence (BI), we could have partnered with or acquired a BI platform and then coded up integration between that platform and our applications. Smart technology partnerships or acquisitions (as we’ve learned with Cape Clear) can be critical to growth and strategy, but they must be incorporated seamlessly into core applications. Otherwise, you will be denying customers of their goal to “keep it simple” when it comes to implementing, configuring, and updating applications.
What do you think Dave Smoley would say if I told him that to get going with our new integration, mobile, and embedded BI capabilities, all he had to do was have his staff learn and implement three new platforms? What would he say if we told him that he can use single sign-on for his browser access to Workday, but he would have to set up his mobile user access and security separately? Or, if we told him that when he wants to change the embedded BI we deliver to better fit his business, he’d have to hire programmers to make those changes by recoding Java?
Thankfully for Dave and other Workday customers, these new capabilities are delivered as features of Workday at no additional cost. Integrations are secured, scheduled, and monitored in Workday’s familiar user interface. Customers get Workday for iPad from the App Store, and secure access to the iPad just as they would to any other task or report in Workday. Built-in BI works out of the box, but customers can make changes without coding by using Workday’s report writer and Business Process Framework. The same analytics available in embedded business processes are available on Workday dashboards, the iPad, and iPhone.
There are more exciting new capabilities possible for enterprise applications now than at any time I can remember. The factor that determines whether these capabilities are widely used—or just widely demoed—is how they are built. Are they built into the application or are they bolted on? Do they leverage the application’s core objects and security directly or force you to replicate security and logic on an “integrated” but separate platform? Do they change along with the application or are they an additional upgrade step?
A vendor that really understands when customers say they are “all about keeping it simple” with enterprise software should be thinking about applications first as they build out new technical capabilities. The work done will not always be obvious during the demo, but customers will see the value when they deploy and will appreciate that value even more over time.