The keynote this morning by co CEOs Dave Duffield and Aneel Bhusri was a study in contrasts.
There were plenty of reminders of the complex world we live in. Mike McNamara, CEO of Flextronics, talked about his 30 country, $20+ global operation. George Tenet, former CIA director, now a Workday customer discussed the geopolitics of a reprisal on Syria. Rebecca Sutton, CFO of City of Orlando, a complex and innovative government entity, described her project (and media challenges of pioneering a cloud solution). The SVP of Global HR Systems at Thomson Reuters with 60,000 global employees, Sue Laskey-Myers being recognized as a Visionary Customer.
In comparison, the keynote also highlighted “Excel Integration”, “200 million journal lines a year”,“Payslips”. They sound so simplistic and tactical when the world has moved to innovation in the form of Mars Rovers, autonomous cars and health bracelets.
It hit me when Aneel Bhusri got one of the biggest cheers when he said Workday was reducing number of annual updates from 3 to 2.
Customers want the world to slow down. And they want plenty of “comfort food”.
40% of features in release 20 came from customer specific requests – this is what they want. Sophisticated they may be, but they want basic business transactions to be done well, and in line with a changing world
So they are reassured the features are in contemporary technologies – HTML 5 UI, native Android, capabilities, leveraging analytics in the Amazon cloud. They like the features are attractive to Millennial employees (Workday announced 300 of recent recruits were new college graduates which gives the additional comfort of being in sync with younger workers).
And they are comforted from the many human and down home touches during the session. Dave proudly talked of family members at several points in the session. There were gentle digs at SAP and Oracle. Corny touches when Dave struggled to show off his Primark skivvies to show he is a consumer of his customer products. When Aneel and Dave threw cloud cakes into the audience from their bakery customer, McKee Foods.
It is a complicated, fast moving world. We all know that. These sophisticated customers are pretty happy that Workday is doing the blocking and tackling well for them. While making their employees smile and have fun while they focus on more complex, demanding tasks.