Workday Podcast: A New Era for Tech and Media

In this episode of our Industrious podcast series, it’s all about challenges and opportunities for the tech and media industries, featuring special guest Randy Rasmussen, Workday managing director for tech and media.

Audio also available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

“Dynamic” isn’t a strong enough word to describe the frenetic pace of transformation in the tech and media industries. As my guest Randy Rasmussen, managing director of tech and media at Workday, pointed out, leaders in these industries must constantly find new ways to increase efficiency and improve decision-making—because their competitors certainly are. 

This episode of our Industrious podcast series focuses on the challenges and opportunities for leaders in key industries, based on insights from Workday-sponsored research from IDC. You can download the IDC research survey that we use as a guiding light for our conversation here: Cloud Transformation for Tech, Media, and Entertainment

Following are a few highlights from Rasmussen, edited for clarity. Be sure to follow us wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts, and remember you can find the entire Workday Podcast catalog here.  

  • “When you’re looking at profitability, your investments have to scale. You have to make sure that you have the right people in the right place, and that the talent you have is optimized to look at your business and get these priorities done.” 

  • “The ability to move quickly is number one. There’s always something new. There’s always a new business model. If something’s not working, you want to know right away so you can make adjustments.” 

  • “Your competitors have already started looking at tools and efficiency. The time to act is now. Look at your systems, see where your gaps are. If you wait too long, you may fall behind. Workday is really a platform for growth, and you should think about it that way for your business.”

Jeremiah Barba: From streaming service wars to the race to get the most from AI and ML, to say that tech and media are innovating at a fast and furious pace would be an understatement. And through it all, leaders in these industries are focused on finding new ways to stay competitive and profitable. Today's episode is part of our Industrious series where we talk about the challenges and opportunities for key industries and share insights from Workday-sponsored research from IDC. I'm your host, Jeremiah Barba, and I have a very special guest with me here today, Randy Rasmussen, Managing Director of Tech and Media at Workday. Thanks for being here, Randy.

Randy Rasmussen: Yeah, thanks for having me.

Barba: Absolutely. So to get us started, why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself, your background, and your work in tech and media.

Rasmussen: So, I started my career in public accounting as a CPA. I've worked in technology companies, primarily in software and internet for the past 30 years. Right before joining Workday, I was the CFO of a public SaaS company. And I've led two financial transformations, involving implementing Workday, in those two companies. And I now lead our media and technology practice here at Workday for industries.

Barba: You've seen all different areas of the business. So let's talk about how our conversation will be centered today. So I mentioned some research from IDC that has come out, and our listeners will want to stay tuned for some more information on how to download that. So keep an ear out for that a little bit later. Let's start with what I thought was a really interesting statistic. For both tech and media executives, attracting the right talent was a high priority. So it was at 49% for tech and 46% for media and entertainment leaders. They said it was their top priority. So why don't we kick off with that? Why is that so important right now for tech and media?

Rasmussen: Maybe I'll start with an example. So I was having a conversation with a CFO. We have a Customer Experience Center out in our offices in Pleasanton. And we asked, "What's on your mind? What kind of things are you thinking about as a leaderof an executive team?" And he said, "Our executive team has four key priorities." And what he was really looking at is, "How do we measure these priorities? How do we make sure that we have enough resources for these priorities? How do we make sure that we have the right resources? How do we make sure that we're investing in people that are working on these four priorities and that they're not working on something else that's not a priority for the company?" It's really about having visibility and tools, that you have the right people doing the right job for the things that are important to your company. And I think in media and tech, a lot of times, these initiatives are around growth or around profitability. When you're looking at profitability, your investments have to scale. You have to make sure that you have the right people in the right place and that they're levered, right, that you have systems in place like Workday, tools where you can look at your business, and that the talent that you have is optimized to look at your business and get these priorities done and focus on them throughout the year.

Barba: Definitely interesting how tech and media leaders have so much to balance right now. 55% of tech leaders in the survey said that improving their opportunity and quote-to-cash processes was their top priority. So let's dive into that a little bit. First off, why don't you define quote to cash in case some of our listeners might not be familiar with it and then talk a little bit about why it's so key for tech companies.

Rasmussen: I think it's good to define it because I think that term is used a lot, and unless you're familiar with it, and you work in a sales or a finance organization that you understand it. It's the end-to-end functions, that sales activity for your organization. It starts from a sales opportunity. Then you have to configure a price and quote that's referred to as CPQ so that you have a customer order, proposal. You send that out to the customer. You go through some negotiation, you sign a contract, then you have an order, and then you provision whatever it is that you're selling to them, you need to send them an invoice, get paid and recognize revenue. So that entire cycle is basically quote to cash. Now, why is that important, that process is pretty complex because and there's a lot of steps to it. And you want to make sure that you reduce any kind of friction that can slow your business down. You need to move quickly. You need to get the customers what they want. It's important to also automate that process with, machine learning, AI, so that it's quick, but it's also low in errors and that you get the right order to the customer, you get the right invoice to the customer, because that's going to speed up the time that you, you collect cash from them. Third, what's most important is automation and having a tight quote-to-cash process is that you're getting feedback of your business this entire time.

So typically, you'll have something like a Salesforce on the front end that will do the opportunity management and the quoting, and then Workday is a tool that will pick it up from the point of contract, turn it into an invoice, have a billing schedule, recognize the revenue. And during this entire process, you want a quick status of, "Where am I? Where am I from a sales perspective? How much pipeline do I have? How much do I have left to go? What kind of guidance have I given the street? Am I going to make my number?" And you want that quickly and accurate so that when you're in the month that you're doing business, or the quarter, you can make adjustments. You can have your sales team push on certain accounts or, or work with customers in ways to provide value to those customers and close those deals and then quickly get that through the system. So, you know, speed and agility in tech and media is always something that's a focus.

Barba: That whole quote-to-cash concept is funny because we're experiencing it all the time, right, as consumers, all the way from, "Oh, do I make this in-app purchase? Do I keep this streaming service?" But it has such a big impact, a whole lot at stake, right? That was a great example. Another point that this IDC research made was that tech and media are at an inflection point when it comes to their transition to what they call “cloud services.” An interesting stat that I read was that only 25 to 30 percent of tech and media companies really felt that they were thriving. Why do you think that is, and what are these companies trying to do about it as they transform?

Rasmussen: When you look in the tech and media space, I, put companies into two categories. So the first category is the newer companies that were born in the cloud. So they never had data centers, they never had these legacy systems, but they had always gone to best-of-breed solutions. As they built their businesses, every problem that they had, they found a solution for it, and they integrated those things together. And as their business has grown, and they're looking back, and they realize, "This isn't the optimal environment because it's expensive to manage," they bought a lot of different types of software; some of the software that they have, they're maybe only using a certain functionality, and they're really looking for a common system that eliminates the complexity of having so many point solutions, eliminates the cost of integrating them, and gets them to a place where they have a single platform, one security model, one data model. And it goes back to speed and agility. I think they're also looking for a solution that has machine learning and AI in the core.

That's kind of like the newer companies, where I think they were very leading edge and kind of went there and then are rethinking, you know, "Do these landscapes make sense?" And then in the media, some of those companies that have been around for a while, they have on-prem solutions, they have a different issue where they have a lot of legacy in their business, some of these applications may have been implemented in the early '90s. And I think there's some cases where there's code that maybe there's only one engineer in the company that can fix problems, and that person is about to retire. So there's risk in these companies of can they keep their business up, and are they going to have to hire consultants and do some break-fix type of thing? So I think they're interested in moving to the cloud because they're really trying to overcome that legacy and build a platform for the future.

Barba: And to pick up on that to go into our next topic, if they're having those struggles with the legacy systems, with the disconnection, it's not going to lead to great decision-making, right? Desire for better decision-making was definitely a common theme from both tech and media. So as you're talking to customers in the industry, what are they focusing on as they are looking to improve decision-making across the business?

Rasmussen: When you think about decision-making, the ability to move quickly is number one. Technology and media are dynamic. There's always an up-and-comer. There's always something that's new. There's always a new business model. So the ability to identify that business model, create a go-to-market, and quickly implement that in your organization and have data back to you of, "How is that working? Do we need to make adjustments?" It's kind of a cliche, but you know, fail fast. If something's not working, you want to know right away so that you can make adjustments. I think also, what's interesting when you're thinking about information and speed is M&A. You know, tech is an interesting place right now where, in 2021, there was a lot of funding and, IPOs and series C and D, lots of money available, right? So you didn't necessarily need to make the best decision. If you had money, you could prioritize growth over profit, and try lots of different things. I think we're in a stage now we're at the bottom of a cycle, but it's the beginning of the next one, right? The stock market is starting to pick up again and funding is going to pick up. And I think the next generation of tech and media companies are being born right now, or some of the bigger players are smart and, like, taking advantage of, "Hey, are there interesting assets? Are there some companies that maybe weren't well-run or well-funded but have a good product or have a good IP that we can acquire through M&A and really leverage that and, use that as fuel for our future growth?"

Barba: It's got to be one of the most active spaces in M&A, right? We all experience it as consumers. You know, I just want all the streaming services to just become one, please, so I can stop paying for all of them and then forgetting to cancel. It's an adventure as a consumer, and I'm sure as a business leader. So we'll shift gears a little bit, although it's still connected to what you said earlier around legacy systems and how companies are trying to improve. IDC calls them “connected cloud services,” we call it enterprise management cloud. A huge focus for tech and media. Let's talk a little bit about why it's so important to make this move to the cloud, and then, how is Workday making a difference for tech and media in the middle of it all?

Rasmussen: We've talked about how fast moving technology and media companies are. And when you think about the teams that you want in these companies, they need to have passion, curiosity, and the ability to connect the dots. When you think about a team that can connect the dots, what kind of tools are they using, right? That's really difficult when you have a complex landscape with different applications, silos of information. Some companies have pulled that data into a data lake or a data warehouse and put tools on top of that, which partially solves the problem, but you still have issues with consistency and single source of the truth, and, you know, do fields and data map correctly when you're putting them in the data lake? It goes back to why is Workday different? And I think the main thing is the unique data model. It's an object-oriented system where things are connected, and you don't have to go into different tables and different places and different modules to find things and try to aggregate them together. That's all native in the application. And as I mentioned before, it’s a single platform, one security model, one data model. The ability of Workday to be, the single source of truth and accelerate decision-making is just very powerful. And a lot of our customers have really realized that value by implementing Workday in their business.

Barba: Just like taking a breather in between episodes while binge watching your favorite show, let’s hit the pause button for a minute, so I can share how to download the IDC research that I mentioned earlier. It’s all about Cloud Transformation for Tech, Media & Entertainment, and here’s the URL to download it: That’s This paper is loaded with great insights, so I hope you’ll check it out. And now, back to the episode! 

So, I'm sure you won't be surprised to hear a question about this topic. But of course, AI and ML. Tech and media leaders are working hard to put it to work for them. And in the survey, the top areas that they mentioned were cost control and decision-making. So what are you hearing from customers and other industry leaders about what they're trying to do to make the most of AI and ML?

Rasmussen: Maybe I'll just say a little anecdote of my own experience is that---AI is the buzzword now. I first went to Workday's customer meeting in 2017 to the Workday Rising, and machine learning and AI was a topic there. So it's not a new topic for Workday, even though maybe it's kind of the buzz in the Wall Street Journal lately. But I think that's important because I think Workday has always taken machine learning and AI seriously, and it's embedded in the core. So when you look at what's important to CFOs---there's kind of four things that they're looking at, right? It's about eliminating inefficiency, saving time, managing risk, and predicting outcomes, which, from the survey, it is about, the efficiencies, and then predicting outcomes. I always like to kind of make this real, because sometimes when we talk about AI and ML, people are like, "What does that mean?" And maybe it's kind of a little thing, but it's actually very big. So I travel a lot. So I hate doing expense reports. I think most people hate doing expense reports. And it's something that is very simple, but you do a lot of it.

What's interesting about Workday is I have Workday on my phone, I'm traveling, I'm in the airport, I have a meal, I get the receipt, I sit down at the table, I take a picture of the receipt with my phone, I sit down, I start eating, I notice that I get an email from the hotel, and it's the bill that they emailed to me. So then I forward that email to a, a Workday receipt inbox. I get on the plane, I fly home. And then the next week, I'm like, "Oh, I got to do my expense report." So I pull it up. My corporate credit card transactions have been uploaded into the Workday system. They've been coded. They'll go in, they'll find those receipts that I had scanned and the one that I had emailed, and they'll suggest, "hey, this looks like your hotel bill. Match it?" "Yes." "Oh, here's your meal," match it. And all it needs to ask me is, "Hey, we can tell this is a meal. Is it breakfast, lunch, or dinner?" I say it's lunch. I just look over the expense report, looks right, send it in. That seems like a small thing, but that saves a lot of time. You know, for me to have to, like, go scan those receipts and attach them and find them and remember where I put them because I didn't do it right away. It's a huge time saver. And you look at things like that in a really large organization with a lot of travelers. That's huge time savings. And it's also the ability to accurately predict where things should be coded. It takes the human error out of the process. So, a small thing, but I think, it’s just an example of the power of the tools.

Barba: That's a great example. I've also yet to meet someone who's like, "I love expense reports. I just wish I could fill out more of them." Workday is, great with that. So as we wrap up here, if you just had a few minutes with a tech and media leader, and they were looking for just one piece of advice as they head into this year, related to what we've talked about today, what would that be?

Rasmussen: I think it relates to the move fast. So if you think about the tech and media space, your business has competitors. And they've already started looking at tools and efficiency and how to address these things that are coming up in the survey. The time to act is now. Look at your systems, see where your gaps are. Where are the areas where implementing something like Workday is very valuable and adds speed and agility to your business because your competitors are doing it. If you wait too long, you may fall behind, and Workday is really a platform for growth, and you should think about it that way for your business.

Barba: Definitely picked up on that theme all the way throughout our conversation, and it's a great way to wrap it up. Thanks again for being here today, Randy. I really appreciate it.

Rasmussen: Thanks for having me.

Barba: We’ve been talking about challenges and opportunities for tech and media with Randy Rasmussen. In case you missed it earlier, here is that URL again to download the research from IDC. It’s, again, that’s

If you enjoyed what you heard today, be sure to follow us wherever you’re listening today, and remember, you can find our entire catalog at I’m your host, Jeremiah Barba, and I hope you have a great workday.

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