By Jim Lundy
SuccessFactors held an analyst day on June 5th as part of its SuccessConnect customer event in San Francisco. Events like this are a preamble to messages delivered to customers. I walked away with a good sense that the integration with SAP may be going better than some had expected. Below are some highlights of the discussion. Note that we’ll analyze any new product announcements such as SuccessFactors Touchbase in a separate First Cut.
SAP finalized the purchase of SuccessFactors earlier this year (see Aragon Research First Cut) and SuccessFactors Founder and CEO Lars Dalgaard is now on the Board of SAP. It is clear that he has wasted no time in ensuring that the Cloud execution that SuccessFactors helped to pioneer does not stall out.
SuccessFactors Chief Marketing Officer Kara Wilson kicked off the session with a number of upbeat messages. Kara joined SuccessFactors last fall from Cisco where she led Collaboration marketing. One thing that many don’t know about Kara was that she also used to be an executive at PeopleSoft, so she clearly knows both the Collaboration and the HCM markets, a powerful combination for a CMO to have.
No ABAP forced march
I asked SuccessFactors VP Dmitri Krakovsky questions about whether SAP was forcing SuccessFactors to use its development languages and tools (aka ABAP) and I got a resounding answer that it was the other way around. SAP Engineers are being trained to use the tools that SuccessFactors uses to create and maintain its applications in their Cloud. The SuccessFactors Cloud releases will still be made four times a year – so the Cloud Train is running on time, which is great news for SuccessFactors, its customers and for SAP. Dmitri spent a lot of time talking about the scaling up of Employee Central and it is very clear that there is a lot of focus on this offering (Cloud face-off against Workday).
Learning is still a driver
SuccessFactors had Phil Carty, VP of Sales Americas, talk about what is happening in the field and it is clear that the acquisition of Plateau is helping to drive revenue growth. While this is great, we still wonder about what it will take to migrate on-premise Plateau Learning customers to the Cloud. SuccessFactors Learning offering will also be a welcome addition for existing SAP customers who often looked elsewhere for a Learning platform.
Recruiting is stronger
SuccessFactors bought Jobs2Web in December 2011 to augment its recruiting offering and it is clear from the customer names that were shared, that SuccessFactors is being successful with its beefed up Recruiting solutions. Sue Van Klink talked about their Recruiting marketing offerings and the combined portfolio and indicated that SuccessFactors is gaining significant traction in recruiting.
Mobile is better
There were some interesting tile like UI modules shown in some of the product update sessions, but what I liked was the new functionality that SuccessFactors is adding to its Mobile Clients, which are offered for both iPhone and natively for iPad. One of the revelations that was shared was that some of the new mobile features were developed by software developers in Germany that had been transferred to the SuccessFactors team.
So, it is just a few months into the merger, but SuccessFactors appears to be on-track in maintaining its pace of innovation for most of its product modules. Keeping the Cloud delivery timing on track is no small feat, particularly after such a large merger. We will be monitoring this going forward but so far, SuccessFactors is continuing to deliver, something that customers will like to hear.