We had the opportunity to attend the SAP SuccessFactors analyst summit this week, held in San Francisco, we were housed in the historic Argonaut Hotel and sessions took place at the California Museum of Sciences, a very good setup.

Take a look at the video I recorded shortly after:


If you want to read and have 2-3 mins – take a look at the 2 page Powerpoint:


More time to read? Read on:

Always tough to pick the Top 3 takeaways from 1.5 days of briefings and presentations – but here you go:

Broad Momentum – You can peg progress by a vendor to revenue, technical growth and reputation. While SAP does not break out revenues for SuccessFactors, they cloud revenues are up. 40M HCM cloud users pay their monthly subscriptions. We know that transactions are up 12x%+ YoY as shared by Kovalevsky– so here is the technical growth. And lastly the SuccessFactors team seems to have become the SAP ‘cloud’ team for enterprise – with being chartered to shepherd the launch of the cloud edition of S/4HANA. All this would not be happening if things were not well in SuccessFactorLand.

New User Interface – User interfaces across the different products varied quote a bit, with EmployeeCentral getting a lot of the love and latest and greatest techniques (it was needed, the longtime reader remembers the ‘Outlook’ and endless scrolling days) – not so much for the other SuccessFactors products. The start is compelling (see below) now we hope that a common UI will go all across the products, not be stalled at the high level entry screens.

Focus on Horizontal capabilities – With that SuccessFactors refers to investments that benefit all products, a good approach, especially when there is need for investment. We mentioned UI already, but this is also the consistent use of visualization (e.g. finally the InfoHRM (my guess) data is shown together with the rest of SuccessFactors, on one common UI. The UI is also Fiori or ‘Fiori like’ that helps cross product users of SAP. Equally the investments into reporting (now fully running SAP HANA). Same for the Extensions, that can be built across the product. Same for the new Intelligent Services, with more and events being exposed.

Analyst Tidbits

Performance Management – The new approach to performance management has been delivered, in a mobile first approach, as pertaining the 1 to 1 meeting management. Delivering 3 flavors of how Performance Management can be done is a good next step, so we did not see (or missed) how the substantial amount of data from 1 to 1 meetings is collected for performance reviews. And then – what to do in countries where prevailing management culture does not work with weekly 1 to 1s?

Payroll is making progress with now support for 30 countries, all run from all HR Core data coming from EmployeeCentral (this is the venerable R/3 payroll, hosted for cloud purposes, maybe ugly, but it works).

Analytics are delivered as announced at SConnect 2015 – for suggested Learning content and Flight Risk. SAP needs to deliver more and faster on ‘true’ Analytics (more here) in order to catch up with the leading vendors.

Cloud Infrastructure - With now 8 data center locations, and Brazil coming this year. SAP was probably the first HCM vendor allowing international customers to keep data in the Russian Federation, based on the October 1st 2015 deadline to have the primary store for customer, employee and financial data in the Russian Federation. The solution isn’t elegant, but works. And SuccessFactors is working on a better solution (like other vendors). More importantly SuccessFactors can also offer EU based data centers exclusively serviced by EU citizens, another differentiator / early industry achievement.

Services Innovation – SAP SuccessFactors shared some good and unique ideas on the services and success side, e.g. customers helping each other in a structured forum and many more. The role of a customer experience executive is a good setup that is crucial in SaaS success. Getting partners to build more extensions is going to be the ultimate test for a new way of dealing with partners, who now can / should build product intellectual property.

Hands on Mobile Experience – Always good for vendors to let the analysts play with their software. A more personal and unique experience. Kudos to SuccessFactors for doing this – but also with one more first: Real BYOD – as the software ran on the analysts smartphones (iOS and Android).


SAP SuccessFactors shows good progress. The departure of Dmitri Krakovsky seems to have been well transitioned, with product reins in the hands of Dave Ragones and Thomas Otter. The addition of former industry analyst and PeopleSoft veteran Yvette Cameron is also a good addition to an otherwise stable leadership team. On the Extensions and Intelligent Services SuccessFactors is showing good ideas and even industry leadership.

On the concern side, SuccessFactors operated on considerable technical debt incurred over the years, mostly before the acquisition. At some point SAP needs to address that, and that will be a substantial investment. It looks to me as if there are some resource constraints (they are always there, but focusing e.g. on ‘horizontal’ is an indication), that are not of immediate concern, but if SAP SuccessFactors wants to be appealing beyond the SAP install base, it needs to start investing in differentiating ideas now. Smart heads for ideas are certainly there, not sure if enough hands to code them are there today and the coming years, when the proceeds of seeds planted in 2016 can be harvested in the form of market share gains.

But for now good progress for SAP SuccessFactors, which is doing all the right things to build its lead as the most mature SAP cloud offering. Existing customer are in good hands and can see that SAP SuccessFactors delivers what it announced at SConnect 2015 – always a good thing to do for vendors. Now SAP SuccessFactors needs to build out differentiation and get customers to adopt new capabilities, e.g. the new Performance Management. We will be watching and analyzing.
Still not enough? Wait, there is more... see more posts on SAP and SuccessFactors below followed by a Storify of my tweets from the event, if you want to follow my digital exhaust tweet for tweet. 

More on SAP:
  • News Analysis - SAP HANA Vora now available... - A key milestone for SAP - read here
  • Event Report - SAP Ariba Live - Make Procurement Cool Again - read here
  • News Analysis - SAP SuccessFactors innovates in Performance Management with continuous feedback powered by 1 to 1s  - read here
  • Event Report - SAP SuccessFactors SuccessConnect - Good Progress sprinkled with innovative ideas and challenging the status quo - read here
  • News Analysis - WorkForce Software Announces Global Reseller Agreement with SAP - read here
  • First Take - SAP SuccessFactors SuccessConnect - Day #1 Keynote Top 3 Takeaways - read here
  • News Analysis - SAP SuccessFactors introduces Next Generation of HCM software - read here
  • News Analysis - SAP delivers next release of SAP HANA - SPS 10 - Ready for BigData and IoT - read here
  • Event Report - SAP Sapphire - Top 3 Positives and Concerns - read here
  • First Take - Bernd Leukert and Steve Singh Day #2 Keynote - read here
  • News Analysis - SAP and IBM join forces ... read here
  • First Take - SAP Sapphire Bill McDermott Day #1 Keynote - read here
  • In Depth - S/4HANA qualities as presented by Plattner - play for play - read here
  • First Take - SAP Cloud for Planning - the next spreadsheet killer is off to a good start - read here
  • Progress Report - SAP HCM makes progress and consolidates - a lot of moving parts - read here
  • First Take - SAP launches S/4HANA - The good, the challenge and the concern - read here
  • First Take - SAP's IoT strategy becomes clearer - read here
  • SAP appoints a CTO - some musings - read here
  • Event Report - SAP's SAPtd - (Finally) more talk on PaaS, good progress and aligning with IBM and Oracle - read here
  • News Analysis - SAP and IBM partner for cloud success - good news - read here
  • Market Move - SAP strikes again - this time it is Concur and the spend into spend management - read here
  • Event Report - SAP SuccessFactors picks up speed - but there remains work to be done - read here
  • First Take - SAP SuccessFactors SuccessConnect - Top 3 Takeaways Day 1 Keynote - read here.
  • Event Report - Sapphire - SAP finds its (unique) path to cloud - read here
  • What I would like SAP to address this Sapphire - read here
  • News Analysis - SAP becomes more about applications - again - read here
  • Market Move - SAP acquires Fieldglass - off to the contingent workforce - early move or reaction? Read here.
  • SAP's startup program keep rolling – read here.
  • Why SAP acquired KXEN? Getting serious about Analytics – read here.
  • SAP steamlines organization further – the Danes are leaving – read here.
  • Reading between the lines… SAP Q2 Earnings – cloudy with potential structural changes – read here.
  • SAP wants to be a technology company, really – read here
  • Why SAP acquired hybris software – read here.
  • SAP gets serious about the cloud – organizationally – read here.
  • Taking stock – what SAP answered and it didn’t answer this Sapphire [2013] – read here.
  • Act III & Final Day – A tale of two conference – Sapphire & SuiteWorld13 – read here.
  • The middle day – 2 keynotes and press releases – Sapphire & SuiteWorld – read here.
  • A tale of 2 keynotes and press releases – Sapphire & SuiteWorld – read here.
  • What I would like SAP to address this Sapphire – read here.
  • Why 3rd party maintenance is key to SAP’s and Oracle’s success – read here.
  • Why SAP acquired Camillion – read here.
  • Why SAP acquired SmartOps – read here.
  • Next in your mall – SAP and Oracle? Read here
And more about SAP technology:

  • Event Prieview - SAP TechEd 2015 - read here
  • News Analysis - SAP Unveils New Cloud Platform Services and In-Memory Innovation on Hadoop to Accelerate Digital Transformation – A key milestone for SAP read here
  • HANA Cloud Platform - Revisited - Improvements ahead and turning into a real PaaS - read here
  • News Analysis - SAP commits to CloudFoundry and OpenSource - key steps - but what is the direction? - Read here.
  • News Analysis - SAP moves Ariba Spend Visibility to HANA - Interesting first step in a long journey - read here
  • Launch Report - When BW 7.4 meets HANA it is like 2 + 2 = 5 - but is 5 enough - read here
  • Event Report - BI 2014 and HANA 2014 takeaways - it is all about HANA and Lumira - but is that enough? Read here.
  • News Analysis – SAP slices and dices into more Cloud, and of course more HANA – read here.
  • SAP gets serious about open source and courts developers – about time – read here.
  • My top 3 takeaways from the SAP TechEd keynote – read here.
  • SAP discovers elasticity for HANA – kind of – read here.
  • Can HANA Cloud be elastic? Tough – read here.
  • SAP’s Cloud plans get more cloudy – read here.
  • HANA Enterprise Cloud helps SAP discover the cloud (benefits) – read here.

Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here and checkout my magazine on Flipboard and my YouTube channel here