Workday DevCon 2023: Building the Future of Work Together

It’s been an exciting week at Workday DevCon 2023. Check out highlights from our developer conference, including new tools and platform capabilities, partnership announcements, and how Workday is using AI and ML to help developers create applications that drive business growth.  

Workday Co-Founder, Co-CEO, and Chair Aneel Bhusri and Workday Co-President Sayan Chakraborty discuss the future of work onstage at DevCon.

The Workday customer and developer ecosystem plays a crucial role in driving innovation across HR and finance. By constantly experimenting, iterating, and refining their work, developers create solutions that solve unique business needs, improve efficiency, and enhance the user experience—all while moving at an incredible pace. Their contributions are essential to the growth and progress of their business, and they’re a vital part of the innovation ecosystem. That’s why Workday continues to invest in our developer community and the technologies they use—we understand that their success depends on it. 

We’re excited for the Workday developer community to take advantage of the platform capabilities and partnership announcements at this year’s developer conference, Workday DevCon 2023. This includes the general availability of App Builder—Workday’s no-/low-code tool to collaboratively, quickly, and easily build Workday Extend Apps on the web—and GraphAPI, which leverages GraphQL technology to provide a single pane of glass for developers to discover and access Workday data.

As Workday’s fastest-growing event—more than doubling in size since last year—developers who attend DevCon have the opportunity to explore new possibilities for innovation through in-depth sessions on capabilities like Workday Extend, Workday Prism Analytics, Workday Adaptive Planning, and Workday Journeys.

Let’s take a look at some of the highlights we’ve shared so far at Workday DevCon, taking place this week at the San Jose Convention Center.

Expanding Value Through Partnerships

I had the pleasure of taking the stage with Scott Rosecrans, vice president of applications sales and strategic business development at Amazon Web Services (AWS), to discuss the partnership between AWS and Workday. Scott talked about the close engagement between our two companies for over a decade, and how together we’ve built a strong partnership from a joint go-to-market perspective in North America, EMEA, and APJ. 

Scott also announced that AWS and Workday Extend teams have collaborated to create a native integration from Workday Extend to AWS, enabling developers to easily and securely leverage AWS platform capabilities in their Workday Extend applications. 

And on behalf of Workday, I’m delighted to share that we’re piloting this integration with the developer community at the Hackathon taking place here at Workday DevCon, enabling developers to use the best of Workday’s and AWS’s artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), storage, and event-processing capabilities with AWS AI services, AWS Lambda, Amazon S3, and Amazon EventBridge. 

For me personally, this news is all about the power of the two platforms. AWS services and tools are going to provide our developers with a lot of new toys to build with by expanding Workday Extend to seamlessly include AWS with a completely native integration. 

“AWS is excited about the growing global partnership with Workday,” shared Scott. “The integrations we’ve developed with the Workday Extend team will help to both enhance the developer experience and accelerate innovation. We’re looking forward to continuing to co-innovate with Workday to develop new solutions that help our customers solve their business challenges.”

Using AI and ML to Create the Future of Work

Workday Co-Founder, Co-CEO, and Chair Aneel Bhusri was joined onstage by Workday Co-President Sayan Chakraborty to talk about the future of work. Their conversation centered on how Workday is using technology like AI and ML to help developers enable better business outcomes. Aneel kicked off the conversation by reminiscing about the beginning of his career. “DevCon brings me back to my early days as a technologist, and the early days of Workday when we were hacking the cloud," he shared. 

Aneel emphasized that one of the biggest opportunities for Workday developers today is with Workday Financial Management. “HR is a huge market, but finance is an even bigger one, and it sits closer to the line of business. This creates a lot of possibilities for developers to deliver customization and configuration for their businesses with the Workday platform,” Aneel said. He then turned the conversation to Sayan to talk about how Workday is investing in AI capabilities. 

Despite the recent surge in hype around large language models (LLMs), Sayan emphasized that Workday has been delivering AI and ML technology—including LLMs—for several years. He shared that Workday continues to look past the hype cycle and find real ways to extract business value from LLMs. 

“The right way to solve a business problem is to apply different techniques to it until you find the right solution,” explained Sayan. “LLMs are just one of those techniques. We need to peel back the cover of LLMs to better understand the value they bring and the right context to leverage them in.”

He then discussed the value of Workday’s application of ML and LLMs with Workday Prism Analytics. “With Prism, customers can bring in third-party data, combine it with Workday data, apply machine learning, and produce unique and powerful applications based on the output,” shared Sayan. 

He revealed that with its early adopter program, Workday is releasing 13 new ML APIs that developers can use in the applications they build to accelerate their business. He also spoke about Workday's commitment to trustworthy AI and ML, ensuring transparency and ethical treatment through a human-centric approach. 

They closed their discussion by emphasizing their excitement about both the possibilities of what developers will build next, and their continued innovation together. “From my perspective, the next wave of innovation revolves around collaborating with our Workday developer customers and partners to craft cutting-edge applications that meet the unique needs of the future of work,” said Sayan.

“HR is a huge market, but finance is an even bigger one, and it sits closer to the line of business. This creates a lot of possibilities for developers to deliver customization and configuration for their businesses with the Workday platform.” 

Aneel Bhusri Co-Founder, Co-CEO, and Chair Workday

Innovating for the Future

Jim Stratton, Workday’s chief technology officer, took the stage with two other Workday leaders: Shane Luke, vice president of ML, and Dave Sohigian, global CTO. 

The conversation opened up with a topic that’s top of mind for most IT organizations: generative AI. Shane shared that there’s a lot of hype around generative AI, but there’s also a lot of substance. And, with the high pace of innovation around AI, it’s always best to proceed with caution. 

Shane emphasized how Workday approaches AI and ML technologies differently to drive innovation. He highlighted the key architectural elements of this differentiation, including a focus on data quality rather than just quantity. Shane believes Workday’s data is its most valuable and differentiating asset in this space. 

“More data isn’t necessarily better,” shared Shane. “The data that we house for our customers is a unique and protected asset that requires tremendous care to guard, but can also provide tremendous value when leveraged responsibly.”

Jim then turned the conversation to building on the Workday platform. Dave shared that our platform allows developers to build from context with a trusted unified data and security model that understands unique business needs. 

“We talk to hundreds of CIOs on an annual basis, and their main focus continues to be how to effectively solve business problems,” said Dave. “One of the biggest benefits of Workday is that our platform is based on application functionality. In other words, the innovation we build into our apps is also brought into our platform elements. Developers are able to solve problems quickly because Workday is already in the hands of their workforce—lowering the level of effort needed to build new solutions since our platform is secure, available, and scalable,” he explained. 

Dave described how Workday runs on a resilient cloud infrastructure, making it easier to focus on building new logic or experiences instead of managing underlying infrastructure concerns. By leveraging the UI platform capabilities of Workday, developers can build applications with a consistent look and feel, leading to speedier adoption and ease of use. Additionally, building on the Workday platform makes it faster and simpler to maintain apps as new capabilities gain the durability and auditability of Workday.

Our technology execs wrapped up their conversation by emphasizing Workday’s commitment to continuously looking for ways to open up the Workday platform and provide more capabilities for our community of developers, and thanking them for their continued partnership. 

Jim Stratton, Workday’s chief technology officer, connects with Workday’s Dave Sohigian, global CTO, and Shane Luke, vice president of ML.

The Power of Community 

Workday Co-CEO Carl Eschenbach highlighted his experience in scaling innovation in a conversation with Jay Wieczorkowski, senior director of cloud platform product management at Workday. “I started my career as a pre-sales engineer designing and implementing PBX systems,” Carl shared. “In the late 90s, I recognized the power of software technology, so that’s when I made the switch from hardware to software, where I experienced hyper-scale growth and innovation first-hand.”

Carl, who joined Workday in December, provided context about his deep understanding of our company, having served on Workday’s board since 2018 and through his close friendship with co-CEO Aneel. He expressed his admiration for Workday's culture, values, and the vast opportunity ahead. 

“Workday started as an application that developed into a platform, and now we’re building more applications on top of our platform,” explained Carl. “The platform is the future, and that’s why developers are so important. We can’t do it all ourselves, we need our customers and partners to build innovative applications with us.”

Carl told attendees that technology companies are moving from best of breed to best of platform—unleashing opportunities for developers to tailor Workday for their needs. “We have about 1,000 applications on Workday Extend, and it just keeps growing thanks to our partners and customers,” shared Carl. “We’re not just building an ecosystem, we're building an economy.” 

He acknowledged that developers are the drivers for the next chapter of growth for both Workday and their own businesses. He added that it’s critical for the developer community to be ready to help their companies prepare for the changes coming at them, and encouraged them to complete their Workday credentials so they’re well equipped for the journey ahead. 

Carl further shared that powering the careers of developers who understand Workday and are building capabilities is crucial in order to move businesses forward. He concluded by emphasizing the importance of Workday’s community of partners and customers, who will continue to increase the value of the Workday platform and build the future of work.

Workday Co-CEO Carl Eschenbach discusses scaling innovation with Jay Wieczorkowski, senior director of cloud platform product management at Workday.

Main image: Workday Co-President Sayan Chakraborty and Workday Co-Founder, Co-CEO, and Chair Aneel Bhusri.

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