Part 1 of this blog series described the genesis and current state of affairs of Workday – a novel company that was founded in March 2005 and launched in November 2006 by two great IT minds and PeopleSoft alumni: Dave Duffield and Aneel Bhusri. Part 2 of this series then got under the hood and analyzed Workday’s secret sauce: its object-oriented and in-memory database (IMDB) and definitional services approach, which involves no coding by developers.
The final part of this series will discuss who should be a good fit for Workday and who might not, and why.
Part 1 of this blog series talked about my very first attendance of BigIdeas, BigMachines’ annual user conference that takes place in the fall in Chicago. I wasn’t the only one that attended BigIdeas 2011 for the first time, as in May 2011 the company’s financial backers brought in David Bonnette, a seasoned Oracle executive in the customer relationship management (CRM) realm, as the new president. Mr. Bonnette has since gradually replaced the company’s founder and former CEO Godard Abel.
The highlights of Bonnette’s keynote presentation were that BigMachines has recently moved towards acting as an established company with more structured processes rather than as a slightly disorganized rapidly growing startup. Predictable results for both the vendor and its customers should come from more simplified and prepackaged offerings, and the upcoming BigMachines 12 release was previewed.
The fall of 2011 marked Theo Epstein’s move from Boston Red Sox to Chicago Cubs, whose fans have been yearning for a championship ring for well over 100 years and are fervently hoping that Theo’s curse-breaking success as the general manager in Boston will be repeated in the desolate Cubs nation. Well, 2011 also marked a much less important detail: after having to regretfully decline a few previous times, I was finally able to clear my calendar and attend BigMachines’ annual user conference dubbed BigIdeas, also in Chicago as the company’s base.
I have to confess that the attendance has changed my perceptions of the upbeat cloud software vendor somewhat. Namely, every time when we would meet in the past (most often at past salesforce.com’s Dreamforce and Oracle Open World events) the company’s staff struck me as too formal and somewhat standoffish. My earlier opinions on the vendor can be seen in this blog post from 2010 here.
Part 1 of this blog series described the genesis and current state of affairs of Workday – a novel company that was founded in March 2005 and launched in November 2006 by two great IT minds and notable PeopleSoft alumni: Dave Duffield and Aneel Bhusri. For a few years now I’ve been listening to a slew of otherwise hard-to-please analysts and bloggers raving about this software company that has purportedly finally overcome the traditional shortcomings of enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems of the 1990s.
One of Workday’s earlier marketing slogans said that it was the first new business management solution to come to market “since the Web turned 2.0, Sarbanes met Oxley, and the world became flat.” In fact, Workday is a younger company than Facebook. The vendor says that its biggest distinguishing factor over traditional ERP platforms is its inherent flexibility, most notably its ability to logically reorganize personnel in a global organization on the fly as required.
Over the past several years, salesforce.com’s annual user conference Dreamforce has become a highly anticipated and entertaining end-of-the-year fixture for enterprise applications market observers. Well, Dreamforce 2011 was somewhat different as it took place in late August and early September 2011, but the vibrant feel of the event was no different. Indeed, in these prolonged times of bad economic news with businesses and government cutting spending across the board, one could again enjoy the unusually high attendance (45,000, for what it’s worth) and upbeat and “never a dull moment” atmosphere of the multi-day event, courtesy of salesforce.com’s CEO Marc Benioff and his executive team.
While Dreamforce 2009 was mostly about the continued growth of the vendor and the unveiling of Salesforce Chatter, the company’s quickly maturing social platform and collaboration cloud (covered in my mid-2010 blog series), the overall Dreamforce 2010 theme was cloud proliferation as well as salesforce.com’s further diversification and expansion in new frontiers (see my blog series for more details).
Dreamforce 2011 continued with the cloud proliferation theme (with new clouds such as Data.com and Heroku for Java), in addition to the theme of continued growth: salesforce.com is the first cloud company to exceed US$2.1.billion run rate and over 100,000 customers (ironically knocking on the door of the “evil empires” elite club). There have also been some acquisitions since Dreamforce 2010, most notably DimDim and Radian6. Post-Dreamforce 2011, salesforce.com has already acquired Assistly, a customer service social software startup in the lower end of the market.
In 2005, after his PeopleSoft venture ended (successfully in financial terms, at least), I was sure that Dave Duffield would not sit still for long. And in fact, I’ve been listening to a slew of otherwise hard-to-please analysts and bloggers raving about Workday for a few years now – this company that was founded in March 2005 and launched in November 2006 by two great IT minds and PeopleSoft alumni: Dave Duffield and Aneel Bhusri.
Dave Duffield is Workday’s co-CEO, co-founder, and chief customer advocate. As mentioned earlier, he was co-founder, CEO, and chairman at PeopleSoft, and Workday is the fifth company that he has founded (see his full bio here). Aneel Bhusri is Workday’s co-CEO and co-founder (he was vice chairman at PeopleSoft). Aneel was named #15 on the 2011 Forbes Midas list (see his full bio here as well as other Workday leadership bios here).
Indeed, David Dobrin, Naomi Bloom, Ray Wang, Vinnie Mirchandani, Dennis Howlett, Dana Gardner, Nick Carr, Mike Krigsman, Jason Busch, Phil Wainewright, and Brian Sommer are only a few of the renowned market observers that have been talking, blogging, tweeting, and whatnot about Workday as possibly the best invention since sliced bread. Naturally, the skeptic in me has wondered what all this fuss and adulation was about. For some flavor, here are the blog posts on Workday by Dennis Howlett of ZDNet, Nick Carr of the Rough Type blog, and Vinnie Mirchandani of Deal Architect, and these seasoned and discerning fellas are not easily impressed.
I finally had a deeper look at Workday at the recent Dreamforce 2011 conference by salesforce.com (where Workday had a noted presence at the expo floor), and the vendor’s conceptual design and approach is beyond reproach. In many ways, Workday can be viewed as the next generation of good-old PeopleSoft enterprise applications. Like its predecessor, the company started with a set of best-of-breed applications around human capital management (HCM).