SAP SuccessFactor’s yearly North America user conference, SuccessConnect concluded this week in Las Vegas. It was the largest SuccessConnect ever, with over 2200 attendees, a good indicator that the acquisition and integration of SuccessFactors by SAP is on a good track. That was not a guaranteed outcome a year ago – my takeaways of SuccessConnect 2013 as reference are here – and of the Day 1 keynote are here.



A lot of important product and services news were announced, tough to pick the Top 3 – but here you go:


1 - Roadmap Sharing 

As Ettling keynoted on Day 1 of SuccessConnect, SuccessFactors is now sharing its roadmap for the next 12 months to come. To deliver on that was the task for Dmitri Krakovsky on Day 2. He didn’t share the dates – but the roadmap items – see below. 
SuccessFactors Roadmap items as shared by Krakovsky
And that were indeed a lot of roadmap items for the next 12 months to come. Let’s look at the ones with the most impact:

  • SuccessFactors is doing its integration homework - After a conservative first year (besides EmployeeCentral) the SuccessFactors product team is picking up on a number of innovations coming from SAP.
    • More Localizations, more Payroll countries and more documentation are leveraging SAP scale, investment and processes. 
    • On the technology side, new customers will be running fully on HANA at some point in 2015, the Fiori UX will be uptaken and SuccessFactors will use HANA Cloud Integration (if that will be the bye bye for Dell Boomi remains to be seen). 
    • And SuccessFactors will also leverage and work with other SAP acquisitions, improving the Fieldglass integration and using KXEN’s InifiteInsight for Analytics.
  • On the functional side SuccessFactors focusses on Learning (more below), improved Workforce Planning (positive Time), Auto Sourcing (in Recruiting), Offboarding and extension of Global Benefit.
  • Mobile gets a big push with new native support for Apple (demoed in the keynote) and Android (coming next year).
  • Moreover SuccessFactors will support the visually impaired with additional color palettes, that help e.g. the red / green blind user population. Why this did not morph into a full ADA support announcement / roadmap was one of the questions I did not manage to ask, but this is a first step in that direction.
  • And last but not least SuccessFactors has already an Applications marketplace, a good instrument to help partners to promote and monetize their offerings, something not seen too often in the industry yet (see e.g. Cornerstone’s announcement here).
  • Finally there was an entry on the slide named ‘Model S’, the codename for SAP’s new simple Suite. If there by accident or dropped by purpose to start a conversation, it certainly means that a part of the SuccessFactors capacity will go towards SAP’s next generation suite. 
New iPhone Learning Client

2 - Learning to the front

SuccessFactors is executing a major learning push, leveraging its acquired Plateau products and expertise to advance two critical functions that so far have been more or less inexistent or badly broken in learning management: The user generated, self-creation of content and the easy identification of relevant learning content, aided by analytics. If SAP can solve both of these challenges in their next generation Learning product, then enterprises should take note.

I was impressed by the approach taken with analytics – Krakovsky called it analytical racks – that just run to predict the best course recommendations – and are added or taken off when obsolete. That comes the closest to where I see analytics going, I call it model thrashing. Just run as many models you can get hold off and use the one for the day or even for the hour that has the best prediction fidelity.

Ettling presents Service Improvements on Day 1 

3 - Services strengthening

The services announcements made by Ettling made my top three event takeaways on the Day 1 keynote and now as well for the event. The separation of the upgrade time frames for the test vs. the production instances is a key quality for SaaS customers. And knowing 6 weeks before a release what will likely be part of it is essential to take the necessary preparation in learning and change management that enterprises may have to prepare for.


  • EmployeeCentral - moving on - Good to see more traction in EmployeeCentral, starting with plans on UI improvement, the addition of more countries and more payroll support as well as the addition of positive time. It is also clear that SuccessFactors plans to use EmployeeCentral and its technology framework (MDF) as the basis for its next generation HCM SaaS product, as more talent management functions are being built on the same framework. 
  • Analytics - InfiniteInsight coming -  SuccessFactors already has a very good intelligence platform with the acquisition of Australian infoHRM that is widely used acroos the suite. The product team is now actively working with the InfiniteInsight product of KXEN (acquired by SAP, my takeaways here), which will beef up SuccessFactors analytical capabilities significantly. 
  • Recruiting - improved - A number of enhancements for the Recruiting product, the most important being the improved and automated interview scheduling, which brings SuccessFactors to par in this critical productivity / efficiency function with Workday. 
  • Jam - plowing on -  The SAP social product is always close to the HCM products, so SuccessConnect was no exception. The product is making good progress in the usability side, the Work Pattern approach has proven itself with partner uptake and it now comes back to foster an ecosystem to garner the uptake. The SuccessFactors Marketplace certainly helps here. 


SuccessFactors is making good progress on all fronts. Tackling the user interface with improvements, up taking more synergies with what SAP can offer and closing competitive gaps are all good practices that every software vendor should practice, but not all manage to pull that off.

The Services improvements received a very warm welcome by customers already at the event, now SAP has to deliver on them.

But then SuccessFactors still has to do a lot of work on harmonizing architectures of acquired products – or rebuilding of these on the new EmployeeCentral / MDF architecture. Or maybe in Model S – or Simple HCM? The sharing of the roadmap for the next 12 months is very good news for customers in order to have the opportunity to align their rollout plans with the product roadmap. Now SAP needs to wrestle some of the thought leadership and commercial success away from Workday, a major task to be undertaken, the starting position has certainly improved compared to year ago.

And more on overall SAP strategy and products:


  • 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:

  • 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.