SuccessConnect 2014: Is It All About Millennials?
By Jim Lundy
With the transition to Mike Ettling as president of Cloud & On-Premises HR at SAP, SuccessConnect took on a very upbeat tone, as Mike even wore jeans onstage for the opening keynote.
He had a very relaxed style with one major soundbite resonating at the end, “The future of HR is no HR.” It showed more than a leadership transition, but also one of company focus.
So, as I recap the SuccessConnect 2014 conference at the Mirage hotel in Las Vegas, a few themes emerged. There was a clear focus on millenials, but is it all about millennials? More on that later. There was also targeted focus on UX, mobile, cloud, and customer experience, as evidenced by product and service announcements. There were also some things that were under the radar such as improvements to the user/employee profile, which will be more of an aggregate of information and inputs from other applications. This will have clear impacts on talent management and learning.
Before I get into some of the themes, let me say I enjoyed the conference very much. What I enjoy most at conferences like this is the opportunity to speak candidly with customers. I appreciate SAP/SuccessFactors for making customers available for candid discussions. I’ll intersperse some of those discussions and the resulting data points as I speak on the themes.
SuccessConnect: The Customer’s Experience
A big focus at this year’s SuccessConnect conference was on customers, as it should be. Some of the discussions I had with customers did detail some issues with customer support. Mind you, this was only a handful of customers so not indicative of everyone. However, it is a theme I have been hearing from customers throughout.
Needless to say, it was good to see this addressed by a renewed focus in getting customer feedback for new product functionality and partners. SuccessFactors also promised to publish product roadmaps 12 months in advance.
SuccessConnect: UX and Mobility
As the product anouncements went on, it became clear there was a strong focus on UX and mobility for all product offerings. In speaking with customers, it seemed mixed who was utilizing mobile. I spoke with many on the learning side who were not yet leveraging mobility. So, enhancing and showcasing the mobile experience was front and center from day one of the conference.
On to the Cloud
There was much discussion about moving to the cloud. Speaking with customers, there were some in certain sectors such as higher education and healthcare that weren’t even considering cloud yet for core investments. I spoke with one analyst from a healthcare organization that intimated they had so many disparate legacy on-premises LMSs, that fully going cloud was not currently an option. Now, this is not SAP/SuccessFactors’ fault, but customers have serious challenges hindering full cloud migrations. There needs to be guidance here.
With that said, there were discussions with customers looking at some modules such as recruiting, workforce analytics, talent management and SAP JAM for social collaboration in the cloud. However, we did see and hear about moves toward HR cloud initiatives, which shows adoption increasing. The major concerns are around integration and migrating data.
So, Is It a Millennial Workforce?
Permeating throughout SuccessConnect was the impact of millennials in the workplace and the future of work. Millennials were even brought on stage to discuss the impact.
Let me say here, that while millennials have grown up as digital natives so to speak, I think the conversation should be around the millennial mindset that trumps age. Employees as well as consumers are way more informed than ever before because of technology. Digital business disruption is impacting the customer conversation and relationship as well as the employee conversation and relationship.
So, I think the employee of today just requires more, in the way of feedback. It’s not about being a millennial via your age—it is that we are living in a new era and world of work.
With the renewed commitment to a customer-first approach, there was positive sentiment toward UX updates. There has definitely been some growth with SuccessFactors, but there still must be heavy focus on execution to follow through on customer-first promises.
Also, with all the talk of millennials, I think greater focus should be placed on employees and focusing on business outcomes.