Workday Rising: Fun and Focus

Most vendors have moved to a bi-annual briefing of analysts – once at a dedicated summit, the other at their user conference. I find the latter a bit redundant – unless spaced out well from the summit. I also feel like I am intruding on what is meant to be customer time for vendor executives.

Having said that, Workday invites us for a day at their user conference and that is appropriate amount of briefing time. The opening keynote where the co-founders, Dave Duffield and Aneel Bhusri make fun of themselves and take gentle jabs at others is usually a treat. Takes lot of prep – the kickoff video below took several of the executives the entire day to shoot and is well worth the 4 minute watch.

They also work in product updates and other goofy stuff which humanizes the stuffy enterprise software space.

There is usually time to catch up with crazy smart folks like Stan Swete, Petros Dermetzis, Leighanne Levensaler and others who are constantly thinking about cloud and data architectures and the future of HCM. And I usually get a chance to spend some time with customers and prospects.

This year, a few analysts made it a bit more fun. We did our version of the scavenger hunt. Our goal was to guesstimate how much it cost the event’s two main sponsors, Deloitte and Accenture the right to be branded as “Titanium”.  We huddled in different rooms, scrounged the  show floor, bribed/cajoled and got some estimates. How much does it cost – I could tell you but then I would have to …. My bribes were in the form of a few cups of Starbucks, which at Vegas prices is not small, but well worth the fun exercise.

Donald Trump is right on one thing. We have become too politically correct. The keynote managed to offend a wide range of people with references to the Pope, Caitlyn Jenner, the German flag and other items. For good measure there was even a Donald Trump joke.

Of course, I nitpicked for different reasons. For a while now, I have been vocal about Workday needing to verticalize more aggressively beyond their Higher Education initiative. Actually, it’s not me – it’s a number of CIOs I have interviewed for the two SAP Nation books who keep asking why cloud vendors seem loathe to verticalize. The day after Rising, I was at GE’s Minds+Machines events, and that was all about verticals with sessions and booths titled Healthcare Big Data,  Digital Power Plant, Brilliant Factory and Airline Operations.  The contrast was striking.

But to the offended me and the folks above, the rational me says “Find me vendors with a string of annual 95+% customer satisfaction scores. Find me vendors about to break into the billion dollar revenue club – a rarefied space in the cloud. Find me vendors with this kind of diversity in the executive ranks (below from a qa session for analysts – credit Diginomica).”

Workday, stay focused – and continue to keep it fun. Ignore the nitpickers –  yes that includes me.

(Cross-posted @ Deal Architect)

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