What I learned at Workday Rising 2019! #wdayrising

I love HR Technology. You all know that. So, I was super excited to get invited to Workday Rising since it’s arguably the hottest HR Tech company on the planet, and quite frankly, in the past, they really haven’t engaged the influencer community much, and probably didn’t need to with all of their success.

I’m interested because Workday is disrupting the HR Tech world in a major way, and really the entire ERP landscape. It seems like every single day I speak to a CHRO or CPO who has made the switch to Workday or are in the process of getting ready to make the switch. Currently, they have about half of the Fortune 100, and if you have 2000 employees and above there is a good chance your CFO, CIO, and, we hope, the CHRO are in discussions on whether they should be looking at Workday as their core system.

I came to Workday Rising on a mission. I hear from Workday Recruiting users mostly and many looking for help on how to make it work better for their organizations. I’m not a Workday Recruiting expert, in fact, until this week I never saw the product. I was just hearing stories from those using it and implementing it. So, everything I had was out of context. Getting that context this week certainly helps me understand where Workday is and where they are going with a number of their products and technologies.

So, what did I learn at Workday Rising? 

– Workday sells the “Power of One” really heavily and I never really bought into the pitch, but when you dig into the core tech side of it, it’s certainly compelling based on how organizations should be and will be using data in the future to be more competitive and better performing. And the plans that Workday has using Machine Learning across their platform moving forward. Other enterprise HCMs will struggle to compete with Workday’s capabilities in this area.

– Workday Recruiting – is a core HCM job requisition system. It was launched five years ago and they are building out features as fast as they can. Workday Recruiting doesn’t try and see itself, at this moment, as an end to end recruiting platform. It’s a large enterprise applicant tracking system built for enterprise-level hiring and compliance on a global scale. That isn’t easy to pull off at scale. They have invested in some great add-on technologies to build out your TA tech stack, like Beamery (CRM-Recruitment Marketing), Mya (recruiting chatbot, AI, automation), and Pymetrics (talent matching AI), all of which by the way are top Best of Breed TA Technologies.

– The Workday Recruiting pain point with many clients has been lack of LinkedIn integration and I got to see what Workday will be launching soon around their LinkedIn integration and it’s impressive, and current Workday Recruiting users who are also heavy LinkedIn users will be excited for this.

– Maybe the miss, from my conversations with current and upcoming Workday Recruiting clients, is these clients believing they’ll just use Workday Recruiting for recruiting and won’t have to build out the rest of their TA tech stack. You will and you should, especially if you need to do a higher amount of external recruiting. I still believe “we” (me, you, Workday, etc.) can build out some great tech stacks around Workday Recruiting that will rock. That’s a goal of mine! (Sackett Stacks!)

– Workday Talent Marketplace is impressive. The reality is in large organizations is that you have 3-4 main buckets of hires: 40-60% will come internally; 20-40% will come from referrals; 10-20% will come from external recruiting; 1-10% will come from your contingent workforce (contractors, temps, consultants, etc.). That means internal hiring and mobility is truly your most important type of hiring the larger you are, and it’s what younger generations are demanding from employers of choice. Workday’s Talent Marketplace is a better internal hiring experience than you’ll find in any other tech on the market.

– I tend to judge HR and TA Technology on their leadership, mostly. Do I believe the leadership at all levels, executive, technology, product, sales, etc. have the capability to pull this off? I’ll start with the Workday Talent Optimization and Recruiting product folks because after spending some time with these teams they are loaded with talented folks who ‘get it’. While you might want changes and updates faster, this isn’t some best of breed SMB technology that can just whip out features on a daily basis. Enterprise-level buyers and users have different needs on so many levels that it takes time to build and test before launching out globally and ensuring it works at scale.

– I met a ton of enterprise clients using Workday Recruiting that were very happy with the product and the direction and the consistent deliverables of the roadmap for the Recruiting product. They are also understanding that this power of one platform across the organization is important for the future of what they want to do in establishing systems that will deliver a better overall employee experience. I actually thought I would show up and hear bitching, and honestly, I didn’t. I heard way more excitement over the new stuff and a customer base that feels like they are being heard and an understanding that there’s a bigger picture to enterprise ERP than just core HCM or Recruiting, or payroll.

– The CEO of Workday, Aneel Bhusri, and his leadership team, especially their technology team, really have a strong grasp of where they are going with the platform into the future. You get the feeling from them, almost like parents with kids about Santa Claus, like they know something the rest of us don’t, in a good way. They are confident their direction will not only be successful for Workday, but ultimately for their clients, and you can’t doubt it with their growth. They are pushing the Machine Learning around their data really heavily and I think they’ll be an industry leader their very soon based on the tech they’ve built across the platform.

So, Did I sell out to Workday?

I know some folks in the industry are going to read this and think that. I will say I’ve been super consistent over the past five years writing about my learnings in HR and TA Technology that I will tell you what I like about a product and then encourage you to go demo and make your own conclusions. I’ve been super consistent in writing on this blog to help others in our community understand all of this a bit more easily.

I’m not an HR and TA Technology hater, I’m an HR and TA Technology geek! Can Workday get better at certain things? Yep. Does Workday have an understanding they need to get better at certain things? Yep. Is Workday going to be all things for all people? No, and they don’t want to, which is part of their strength. They know exactly who they are and who they want to become.

I was asked to come to Workday Rising as an “Influencer”. They put no constraints on me on what I could say on social media or write on my blog. They took a risk and I want to thank the team for trusting me enough to let me in on the inside and giving me such great access to your leadership teams and product teams.

These were just some of the highlights from my own lense of interest, there is really so much more I could share about some other really cool stuff Workday is doing. Here are some links on some of the other stuff that is worth reading:

2 thoughts on “What I learned at Workday Rising 2019! #wdayrising

  1. Tim, Workday has engaged the influencer community plenty from before they even announced their existence. It pains me that your view is narrow to include only the TA influencer community, which you’re right, they haven’t engaged much for reasons those of in it know well.

    • Oh, Bill!

      You know I dig TA! But, truly, as they might have engaged influencers early on, they haven’t lately. List out a few influencers who have been invited to Rising in the past 2-3 years? It’s not many.

      You have a skewed view because all the big players love them some Kutik! That’s what happens when you are the Godfather of HR Tech!


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