Executive Perspectives: What I Get Out of Workday Rising

We asked three Workday executives—Ashley Goldsmith, chief people officer; Diana McKenzie, chief information officer; and Robynne Sisco, chief financial officer—what they think are the most pressing issues for executives, and what they gain from attending Workday Rising.

Executives responsible for finance, HR, and IT in their organizations have a lot to think about in the coming year. That’s why we’ve worked especially hard to develop outstanding content for our executive-level customers at Workday Rising, taking place in Chicago, October 9-12 and Barcelona, November 14-16.

We asked three Workday executives—Ashley Goldsmith, chief people officer; Diana McKenzie, chief information officer; and Robynne Sisco, chief financial officer—what they think are the most pressing issues for executives, and what they’ve gained from attending previous Workday Rising events.

What’s one trend that will be top of mind for your peers in the coming year?

Sisco: Adoption of the new revenue recognition standards, ASC 606, will continue to preoccupy many CFOs and finance organizations over the next year. I think this will drive many of them to put other key initiatives on hold while they work through the complex adoption process and new reporting requirements.

Goldsmith: Our workforces and workplaces face seismic changes as a result of rapid advances in technology and significant shifts in employee expectations. These changes affect every industry, and I think we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg. The ways we have worked for the last couple of decades are likely to become outdated, and most organizations will need to focus on how to effectively adjust.

McKenzie: We’ll continue to see new innovations in machine learning and AI. And on the advanced analytics front, we will see more tools that give businesses the ability to blend data sets together to answer questions with even more context and insight. Competing successfully in this digital age is going to require every company to focus on gaining more leverage from their information assets.

What opportunities do these trends create for you and your peers?

Goldsmith: It’s a great time for us to capitalize on these external workforce changes to drive needed changes within our organizations. That includes leveraging technology to more effectively manage the largest expense in our organizations (people!), and to connect with our employees in a way that keeps them inspired, engaged, and delivering exceptional results.

McKenzie: CIOs have an incredible opportunity to take the lead on developing a data strategy that results in the best decisions for their customers and the business. Foundational to any successful data plan is the CIO’s ability to collaborate across multiple business units and functions, while increasingly integrating data from external partners to improve the effectiveness of business decisions.

Sisco: Revenue recognition changes create an opportunity to look at all processes around order-to-cash and sales compensation. Finance leaders and their teams will have an opportunity to simplify processes, and even change business practices as part of the required changes. It’s also a good opportunity to look at their systems and how well they support (or don’t) change and process improvements.

What do you think is the greatest value business leaders gain from attending Workday Rising?

Goldsmith: I think there are two great takeaways for business leaders. To hear first-hand from other customers about how they’re using Workday is very powerful—they can learn how flexible and capable the technology really is, and how much value can be gained from it. The second takeaway is the power of the full community. Recognizing there are thousands of people to learn from and to influence the future of Workday applications with—that’s exciting.

Sisco: Because customers are on the same version of Workday, they can have relevant conversations with their peers about how they’re using the system. These are conversations they have never been able to have about a core system before.

McKenzie: I’ll add that executive attendees are often surprised by what they gain through these conversations. They discover new insights and practical ways to have a positive impact on their own organizations’ business transformations. It’s a very actionable form of peer learning.

What’s the one thing you’re most excited for at this year’s Workday Rising?

McKenzie: It’s the amazing energy created when our customers come together at Workday Rising. It’s an experience, not just another conference—the atmosphere, content, and focus on strengthening relationships sets it apart. There’s never a shortage of great transformation stories and opportunities to learn about what matters to our customers and how we can continue to advance our products to support their businesses.

Sisco: I love the opportunity to talk to customers and prospects and share our stories about how we’re using Workday to improve our efficiencies and the experiences of our employees. I always learn from our customers’ stories, and it’s a great opportunity for us to get to know each other better. Earlier this year we adopted ASC 606, and I look forward to conversations with other finance leaders about how they’re preparing for these big changes.

Goldsmith: Workday Rising exemplifies two of our core values: customers and fun. Customers take a front seat at Workday Rising, sharing and learning from each other. This helps them get a real sense about the technology, in a way that goes deeper than just hearing the company-led topics. And it’s always a fun event. Humor is part of our DNA as a community, and you can really feel that at Workday Rising.

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