Workday Innovation Keynote: Supporting Customers in a Changing World

Taking the stage at Workday Rising on Tuesday morning, Workday Co-Founder and CEO Aneel Bhusri discussed the enormous impact the changing world is having on our customers.

“We’re all living in a constant-change environment, whether it’s technology, whether it’s business, whether it’s what’s happening in society,” Bhusri said. “And we’re going to show you today how Workday can help you support your business during this very interesting and challenging time.”

He let attendees know they’d be learning during the Innovation Keynote about how we’re deploying machine learning across all of our products. “The technology of today that I personally believe is as disruptive as the cloud is machine learning,” he said. “Machine learning helps you harness the power of data. It’s very clear this is the way the world is headed.”

At the same time, it’s important Workday uses machine learning (a subset of artificial intelligence) the right way. “We are absolutely behind the ethical use of AI,” he said. “We built privacy and security at the core. And we always remember it’s your data, it’s not our data. Whatever we do to help you around machine learning will be at your request and with your blessing.”

Here are some of the news highlights and product announcements from the keynote:

Workday People Experience

This is a personalized, more intelligent employee experience aimed at improving efficiency, knowledge sharing, and collaboration. 

The Workday People Experience “weaves together Workday and non-Workday applications into a single user experience,” said Ali Fuller, senior director, people experience. “You can weave together tasks and resources from both inside and outside of Workday.” She added that Workday People Experience leverages machine learning, natural language processing, rich media, and enterprise search. 

Journal Insights and Workday Accounting Center

“Powered by machine learning, Journal Insights will surface exceptions as they occur,” said Barbara Larson, general manager of Workday Financial Management. “No more playing detective, sorting through mountains of data during the high-pressure month-end close.” 

Workday Accounting Center, she noted, is powered by machine learning. “Accounting Center takes your high-volume data from your operational systems like insurance claims or bank loans. We run through those our accounting rules engine and transform those business events into journals, the debits and credits for those transactions, one accounting rules engine to drive all your accounting.”

Skills Insights and Talent Marketplace

“Historically, getting accurate skill information about your workforce was difficult at best. But with skills insights, all you have to do is enable skills cloud in Workday,” said David Somers, general manager, Workday talent optimization. “And you can quickly see detailed skill information about your employees without asking them to do anything. This solution leverages machine learning to mine Workday’s rich data sets, things like performance reviews, feedback, and job history to create a snapshot of your organization’s key skill strengths and gaps.”

“And once you’ve unlocked all that data, how do you use it to ensure your workers can engage and grow with your organization?,” Somers asked. “Workday Talent Marketplace was built just for that, with your employees in mind. Imagine a solution where your workers get visibility into opportunities that match their unique skills, job history, and interests, and not through complex searches or manually checking in but, instead, automatically via Workday. With marketplace, opportunity finds your employees, so they don’t have to search elsewhere for it, making your organization agile and able to compete in a rapidly changing world.”

Discovery Board and Workday People Analytics 

To make better decisions in this changing world, we all need access to the right data at the right time,” said Pete Schlampp, senior vice president and general manager, Workday analytics and reporting. “And if there’s one thing that I hear from you, it’s that you want reporting in Workday to be easier. So we’re taking our data-discovery technology from Prism Analytics, and we’re making it available to all Workday customers using the data sources and the security that you’re accustomed to. It’s called Discovery Boards. And it enables business users to ask questions using simple selections and get answers at the speed of thought.”

“And this year, we’re delivering a new product called Workday People Analytics,” Schlampp added. “It uses augmented analytics to continually analyze your organization. It looks for patterns across millions of data points generated by your business and finds trends and anomalies. When it finds an important trend, it ranks it, and then using graph processing, it determines what’s driving the change, and then it presents it to you in natural language that anyone can understand.” 

Role-Based Dashboards and Workday Success Plans

“We know in some cases you’re so busy that bringing all this innovation into your organization isn’t always easy. But it’s so important,” said Emily McEvilly, vice president of Workday global services. “To further invest in your success, we’ll be delivering over a dozen role-based dashboards in the next few months. These will be dashboards for roles such as HR partner, accountant, projects manager, and many more. So all of this is about putting more tools in the hands of your teams to make them more productive.”

“With Workday Success Plans, you will get feature adoption planning, a detailed roadmap, and personalized application guidance from Workday experts. You’ll get access to new webinars and training, help with managing the change, and the ability to participate in small customer forums that we’re calling crews, where you can collaborate, foster peer-to-peer learning, and expand your network.”

Workday Credentials and WayTo by Workday

“We’re using new technologies like blockchain to bring credentials into the digital era,” said James Cross, vice president, strategy. “We’re doing this through a brand-new platform, Workday Credentials. As a Workday customer, you can use this platform to issue credentials to your people. These can represent employment history, skills cloud skills, learning, compliance training, and much more.”

“And today we’re also super excited to introduce a brand-new mobile app for individuals. This new app is called WayTo by Workday. WayTo allows you to capture your credentials in a secure place that you control. WayTo follows you throughout your career. You can take it with you from Workday tenant to Workday tenant. You can use it to apply for jobs, to capture your learning, to prove your employment, and so much more.” 

Workday Strategy and Vision Keynote: Planning With Adaptive Insights

Everyone plans, but few plan as well as needed to keep up in a changing world. Even with recent advances in technology, Bhaskar Himatsingka and other Workday leaders say that many companies are still mired in static, episodic planning processes. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In this keynote, Himatsingka, senior VP of product for Workday’s planning business unit, shared how Adaptive Insights Business Planning Cloud helps make active planning a reality.  

The team demonstrated how the ability to see how one change affects the entire plan can make a huge difference. For example, in sales planning, a manager might want to see how changing a quota might impact ramp-up time for a new sales rep. Or in workforce planning, HR professionals might want to better understand the balance of talent supply and demand, and whether they need to build, buy, or borrow to fill their talent needs. 

The bottom line message of the planning product strategy and vision keynote was that Adaptive Insights Business Planning Cloud can help people engage in collaborative, continuous, comprehensive planning. 

HR Transformation in the Public Sector

Driving transformation in the public sector—given challenges such as a patchwork of (sometimes overlapping) regulation, the need to partner closely with labor unions, and the visibility that comes with being in the public sector—may not be the easiest project. But Katherine Nutter, a principal customer success manager at Workday, says the rewards are worth it.

Nutter asked public sector HR professionals who have implemented Workday how they navigated change. One big piece of advice: Reach out to as many key stakeholders as possible to get their feedback and understand their needs–and do it earlier rather than later. 

When asked about their biggest challenge during deployment and production, attendees cited aligning processes across departments, which is a critical consideration and a job that never truly ends. Another big shift is getting HR to see the value of acting more as a strategic partner, and focus less on transactions.

When it comes to happy surprises, although data conversion sounds scary, with the right partner, it can be a (relatively) painless process, and can make integrations smoother from day one. And, borrowing people from other agencies, at least on a temporary basis, to share expertise and build relationships, is good for everyone in the long run.

As far as lessons learned, attendees urged agencies to consider a phased deployment approach given the sometimes dizzying complexity of public agencies. And, ending with the need to bring employees along, find the right training approach, whether classroom-based or self-serve videos and job aids.

Workday Strategy and Vision Keynote: Workday Student

Higher education is in “revolution mode.” Changing demographics, alternative learning pathways, and the gig economy are just a few of the factors contributing to its rapid change. Institutions are looking to adapt quickly and build new partnerships to meet enrollment goals and help keep students engaged from acceptance to graduation. 

Liz Dietz, Michael Bisson, and Dylan Pavelko of Workday shared product updates, release highlights, and demonstrations of Workday Student. For example, Pavelko played the role of an admitted student and showed how Workday Student makes it easy for students to find all the information they need. Bisson shared a look into future developments of Workday Student, including help with registration troubleshooting and end-to-end management of work study programs. 

And finally, Workday Student customers from Wellesley College, California College of the Arts, and Bentley University shared learnings from their implementations. They told of how proud they were of the teams that worked on the implementation, and how they’d found creative solutions to challenges facing higher education institutions through Workday Student.

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