We had the opportunity to attend SAP's SuccessFactors Analyst Summit 2018, held from April 30th to May 2nd 2018 in San Francisco at the St. Regis. Attendance with over 15 analysts was good, still a good atmosphere to get a pulse on where the vendor is now, especially as it was the first analyst event under the new leadership of Tomb, and the product leadership of Wilson and Harvey.






Prefer to watch – here is my event video … (if the video doesn't' show up – check here - pardon the bad sound quality at times, will have to record when time allows)



Here is the 1 slide condensation (if the slide doesn't show up, check here):


Want to read on? Here you go:

SuccessFactors is on the 'Enslin March'. Since SAP put the '5 sisters' (Ariba, Concur, Fieldglass, Hybris, SuccessFactors) under the leadership of Rob Enslin, it's clear that the long-stalled technology conversion of these five business towards the SAP technology stack was about to happen. More specifically it means the long talked, not much executed adoption of SAP HANA as the database, the adoption of SAP Cloud Platform as a PaaS, the use of SAP Analytics as reporting and Analytics platform, the usage of UX elements coming from Fiori (here the SAP Cockpit) and of course SAP Leonardo for machine learning and more. SAP customers will appreciate that change in direction, non-SAP customers using the 5 sisters may be a little more nervous, but as all is deployed in the cloud, they should not notice at all – except for improvement. Behind the 'Enslin March' is the expectation to be able to get more business capability being built by the '5 sisters' – an objective of great priority to customers – who always want more capabilities in return for their SaaS subscriptions.

SAP SuccessFactors Holger Mueller Constellation Research
Enslin presents
Focus on Mobile, with Leonardo ML and Co-Pilot. Mobile was the big headliner from SuccessConnect 2017 last year, so with some surprise it is also the big roadmap item for 2018. SAP has built a very good iOS app together with Apple, but ML wasn't ready inside of SAP 12 months ago and SuccessFactors is now adding ML capabilities to the mobile application. More interesting is the adoption of Co-Pilot which is SAP's chatbot platform, enabling conversation as a platform use cases. Most importantly it has support for Google's speech recognition baked in, pretty much the clear leader in this capability, which is crucial to make this application use case work. Still it feels like SuccessFactors is working around the main issue that it has – a necessary refresh of the UX and new consistency for the browser-based UX. Many vendors try to buy time for this with mobile apps and chatbots, but a lot of users still have to go back to the browser as a platform and an all nice UX falls into shambles. SuccessFactors needs to tackle that area to keep its (power) users happy and remain competitive.

SAP SuccessFactors Holger Mueller Constellation Research
Tomb talks, Harvey listens

Talent Acquisition bolstered by Onboarding and CRM. The other larger automation item from SuccessConnect was the new Onboarding and its good to see SuccessFactors delivering this capability now. Adding Candidate Relationship Management is a good extension of the Recruiting capabilities, and if done right recruiters using SuccessFactors will appreciate it. But both capabilities are built around an older Recruiting core, which needs an overhaul. And the overall Talent Suite inside of SuccessFactors needs an overhaul, maybe renovation if not replacement. At the core of Talent Management is Performance Management and SuccessFactors has done well innovating with the automation of the 1 to 1 meeting… but it needs to keep up innovating and experimenting in this area and reflect the move to Performance Management suites (which offer all ways to do Performance Management to enterprises and allow them to configure use the fitting practices to the right users and organizational units).

SAP SuccessFactors Holger Mueller Constellation Research
Wilson presents the Job Analyzer

Compliance Investment, Permit and Visa Module. One area where SAP and now SuccessFactors has a clear leg up on all the competition is compliance… SAP offers support for 58 countries directly as part of its payroll portfolio and there 41 additional countries covered by partners (total is 99). Keeping up payroll compliant is continuous work and dealing with regulatory uncertainty that is only rising. To cope, SAP has dedicated professionals in each country, who follow the regulatory changes. Apart from payroll, it allows SAP to pop out capabilities like the Permit and Visa Module. This is very relevant capabilities for global enterprises to manage global talent and close to impossible for enterprises to manage inhouse… they use immigration lawyers and those can make mistakes as they decide on case to case basis. Much better to address in software and kudos for SAP to come out with this capability, likely as a response to its Global Mobility capabilities. The best talent somewhere in the world can't help in country x if you can't even get the individual to visit.



SuccessFactors is making progress, but the pace seems to be glacial. Realistically using more of SAP technology, a good decision overall, means even more 'plumbing' work by R&D resources vs. 'sun deck' work (building SaaS capabilities). But it is an investment SAP should make, with the expectation of better productivity and more functionality being shipped in a few years – latest. And SAP needs to build a lead in capabilities, as it's the only large ERP suite vendor not having HCM integrated in a traditional way (single sign on, same schema, same application etc.) compared to its key competitors. SAP argues correctly that there are new and better ways of integrated in 2018 than there ever were (microservices, REST, APIs in general etc.) – but SuccessFactors itself is the living proof that this is hard to achieve… I am still confident to win the bet of finding more save buttons in look and feel and location than looking at SuccessFactors modules. And UX is only the iceberg. But SuccessFactors is committed and now must execute – fast. Next stop Sapphire in a few weeks.


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