What is Simplicity in Enterprise Software?

What is simplicity? It’s a deceptively simple question, isn’t it? Especially if you happen to be a business or organisation looking for enterprise applications in today’s marketplace. Proclamations about simplicity are everywhere: every product is simple to use, scale, implement, and integrate. Yet to design technologies and user experiences that truly are simple, you can’t build on the complex. You have to start from scratch.

Image placeholder

What is simplicity? It’s a deceptively simple question, isn’t it? Especially if you happen to be a business or organisation looking for enterprise applications in today’s marketplace.

Proclamations about simplicity are everywhere: every product is simple to use, scale, implement, and integrate. Yet to design technologies and user experiences that truly are simple, you can’t build on the complex. You have to start from scratch.

As regular readers of our blog know, when Dave Duffield and Aneel Bhusri co-founded Workday 10 years ago, simplicity was at the very centre of our company’s strategy. Dave and Aneel had witnessed the growth of legacy software vendors and the huge complexity they brought with them—monstrously complex systems that require huge amounts of time (and money) for their customers to maintain, update, and integrate.

Since joining Workday in early 2014, and through my many conversations with our European customers, I have really been able to understand just how important it was for Workday to start with a clean sheet of paper and to put customers at the very heart of the picture. Workday’s approach focuses not just on the latest technology and thinking, but also a customer service-led ethos rather than a product-led one.

Our entire company is based on “The Power of One,” which encompasses a number of things that all add up to making everything as simple as possible. For starters, it means all customers are on one version of Workday, eliminating one of the biggest complexities of legacy software. In the legacy world vendors focus too many resources on supporting multiple versions of applications, and customers, since they’re all on multiple versions, lack a unified voice. With one version, customers share experiences and best practices and contribute directly and meaningfully to the development of applications.

Simplicity comes from having applications based on a single, unified architecture. Our customers’ finance and workforce data is all in one system, eliminating many of the costs, complexities, and delays that result from having to integrate separate applications and databases, or to move data into data warehouses for analytics. This greatly speeds up delivery of business insights through built-in analytics capabilities, and provides a foundation for us to offer the most advanced analytics applications on the market.

How does the simplicity of having transactions, data, and insights all in one place impact our customers? Here’s a sampling of what our European customers have said in recent news releases:

  • “With Workday’s unified financial management and HR system, we will have a single source for our critical operational and financial information giving us greater agility, speed, and efficiency,” Nick Pointon, vice president of finance, King Digital Entertainment Plc.
  • “Our employees are critical to our success, and we are investing in Workday HCM to not only support our development and growth, but also to give us the workforce insights we need to better manage talent and help inform business decisions,” Nigel Sullivan, Group HRD, TalkTalk.

Simplicity is also found in single codeline development. This provides customers with greater collaboration on new features, faster response to regulatory changes, reduced downtime, delivery of new features outside of regular update cycles—and more time for us at Workday to spend on innovating. Finally, simplicity is found in delightful user experiences inspired by the latest trends and advancements in our favorite consumer applications.

How simple is an enterprise software application? Consider these critical questions: Can you implement a business process change in minutes, without any help from IT or consultants? Can you analyse any aspect of your business data in real time? Can an executive pick up a smartphone or tablet and get insights into workforce and financial data, as well as the many intersections between the two, without any training?

In today’s world, this is what simple should look like.

More Reading