Simplistically speaking, finance teams need to process transactions, perform analysis, and support planning. Historically this has been challenging as legacy systems don’t perform transactions and analysis in the same place, and business logic is hard-coded (that is, programmed) into the systems.
The reasons for this are lengthy, but in a nutshell, supporting transaction processing and performing reporting and analytics require a different structure to the data. The historical approach to this has been to maintain multiple copies of the data, where one copy supports transactions, and the other copy supports analysis. This approach has impacted the speed at which finance can get to data and insight because so many copies of the data have to be maintained, often resulting in delayed insights based on stale data.
Workday approached this problem with the idea to perform transactions and analysis in one place. Data, and the logic surrounding that data (for example, each expense report has a worker, all workers have an organization, etc.), live in the same place, so all your reports and analytics use real-time, transactional data. With this model, there’s fundamentally no difference between report and transactional data—there’s just data and real-time insight into the business. All of the data is stored in-memory, which means that finance can transact, analyze, and report on data in the same place, without ever leaving the system.