Innovation and Upgrades Don’t Have to Be Disruptive

Many legacy enterprise application vendors are now asking their customers when they want to schedule their updates—as if this is a good thing. At Workday, we ask, “Why do updates have to cause disruption at all?” Hint: They don’t have to.

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As a Workday CTO, spanning global regions, what I enjoy most about my job is getting to talk with IT leaders across geographies and industries. Recently, a CIO of a technology company told me, “One of the biggest advantages of switching to Workday was not having to worry about preparing for the next update.” With legacy systems, to access the latest capabilities or innovations, you need to prepare for the inevitable disruption to your business operations that comes with an update. 

Now many legacy enterprise application vendors have begun asking their customers when they want to schedule their updates—as if this is a good thing. In my view, this is the wrong question. They are asking, “When would you like to schedule the next disruption to your operations?” At Workday, we ask, “Why do updates have to cause disruption at all?” Hint: They don’t have to. 

This is how we think about updates at Workday:

Operational disruption is the barrier to innovation—so we minimize it. The reason many enterprise application vendors say you need the ability to schedule updates is because they know their updates cause massive disruption to your business. They also know that an update approach like ours would cause massive disruption to their own operations. They can’t handle updating every customer at the same time. The level of effort is too great and the risk of error is too high for them.

We believe updates should happen so quickly—and easily—that it doesn’t matter when they happen. Updates should not disrupt your business. Workday updates more than 3,400 customers around the globe all at once, within a four-hour window. We have invested in a continuous development and delivery pipeline that delivers the latest features to customers without disrupting their operations.

Next time an application vendor pitches you on the value of a flexible upgrade schedule, ask why.

Continuous delivery = continuous innovation. We deliver innovation to our customers when it’s ready. We progressively roll out changes and features in a sensible way to continuously enhance the customer experience while avoiding regressions. 

We didn’t invent this process: consumer internet companies such as Netflix and Google push out small, incremental updates to users all the time. Nobody bats an eye, because it just works without disruption or chaos. Why should you expect any less of your enterprise application vendors?

Because Workday innovation is delivered without disruption to your business, you get a different kind of choice. You get to decide when you want to turn on the new features and functionality included in our updates. This approach lets you realize the benefits of innovation when it makes sense for your business, and without requiring a disruptive update to get there. 

Real innovation on your time. In the past, businesses would upgrade their applications because they wanted access to new capabilities. The promise at the other end of the upgrade had to truly be worth the operational pain associated with the update. Workday has turned that concept on its head. Now, you’re no longer balancing between the pain of an upgrade with the gain of new capabilities. 

Next time an application vendor pitches you on the value of a flexible upgrade schedule, ask why. It’s seemingly a nice choice to have, but the question glosses over a basic fact: Innovation doesn't have to be disruptive, but some vendors don’t have the architectural underpinnings to deliver updates that just happen, quickly and easily. As a business, you have higher priorities, and that’s the kind of update you should expect—and that you deserve.

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