Workday plots wave of predictive analytic apps

The move could help the cloud finance and human-resources sofware vendor win more big enterprise deals

Workday is expanding its move into analytics with a series of specialized, predictive applications designed to help staff in HR and financial management roles retain top workers and make more accurate forecasts.

"The new order is prediction and recommendation," said Dan Beck, vice president of technology products. If Netflix can suggest a movie you should watch next, Workday ought to be able to tell a human resources manager which top performers are at high risk of leaving the company, and suggest options for retaining them, Beck added.

Insight Applications are based partly on technology Workday gained from buying predictive analytic startup Identified earlier this year.

They will use both historical data from Workday as well as third-party data sets, while being integrated with the core Workday finance and human resources modules. That means there won't be a need for a separate data warehouse.

The machine learning technology under the applications' hood means they'll also get smarter over time as they adapt to usage patterns and ingest more data, Beck said.

Workday is fine-tuning the applications to account for many types of end users through taxonomies that include hundreds of job titles across more than 20 industries.

Pricing and packaging for Insight Applications will be announced next year. Initial releases will focus on employee retention risk, career path recommendations, financial scorecards and other areas.

The new products could help Workday land more high-profile deals for its software, such as the global agreement with Rolls-Royce it announced this week. Workday has been making inroads with large enterprises that might ordinarily have chosen products from the likes of Oracle and SAP.

There are some important considerations for companies considering a move to Workday, according to SAP and SuccessFactors consultant Jarret Pazahanick.

"Over the past two quarters, several very large SAP HCM customers have reached out wanting to gain insights on [SAP's] SuccessFactors versus Workday, as they have already made the decision to move away from on-premise HR technology," he said via email. "My advice for customers is to spend the time up front to find the vendor that matches up to their business requirements, [obtain] scripted demos to actually see both vendors' functionality working, and don't rely on Powerpoint presentations."

"SuccessFactors Employee Central has made some huge strides in the past 18 months but they are still playing catch-up to Workday on telling their story," he added. "Until that improves we will continue to see high profile SAP HCM customer losses,"

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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Chris Kanaracus

IDG News Service
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