We had the opportunity to attend SAP SuccessFactors SConnect event in Las Vegas this week, held from August 29th till 31st 2016 at the Venetian in Las Vegas. The conference had (in my records) the best attendance since I am attending in 2013, with over 3000 attendees coming from customers, prospects and partners.
So take a look at my musings on the event here: (if the video doesn’t show up, check here)
No time to watch – here is the 1-2 slide condensation (if the slide doesn’t show up, check here):

 Want to read on? Here you go: Always tough to pick the takeaways – but here are my top ones:

New User Interface - The new user interface is certainly the most impressive advancement across all that SuccessFactors delivery plans. In the past there was often a lack of consistency across the SuccessFactors products, that the vendor is now addressing. The new UI, starting with the high frequency screens looks attractive and feedback from users was positive to very positive. Now we will watch what real world feedback is going to be and what the next set of improvements SuccessFactors will put in places.

The Centers have come and more are coming – Last year SuccessFactors introduced the center concept. A single place to look for functions or content, one year later we can state that the Center concept has been well accepted and more centers are on the way. The Release and Report Center are the ones that stood out in my view, as getting customers faster on a release and finding reporting information is always valuable. But there are many more and SuccessFactors is certainly up to something here.

Intelligent Services – Another capability that SuccessFactors debuted last year, Intelligent Service – is seeing good uptake by customers, some executives even shared better uptake than they expected. Personally I am not surprised, as automating more repetitive tasks is something not only HR professionals but especially business users have been asking for a long time. The debate if Intelligent Services is ‘just workflow’ keeps going on, but at the end it does not matter what it can be labelled as from a taxonomy standpoint, what matters is that functionality provides day to day value for SuccessFactors users. And that was a question last year – by now from adoption and customer conversations there is no question anymore.

Performance Management keeps getting continuous – When SAP unveiled its plans to come up with a different approach to Performance Management, there was general surprise. After all, SuccessFactors is the ‘800-pound gorilla’ in Performance Management and gorillas are not know for disrupting themselves. So kudos for that to SuccessFactors, on the flipside the direction of a more continuous form of Performance Management is not in the league with e.g. Columbus finding America. But HR professionals don’t want risky discovery, but a solution to the inaptitude of current Performance Management, and the new SuccessFactors offering is working well in these regards. Also good to see that SuccessFactors did not rest and is building more capabilities into Performance Management.

Analyst Tidbits

  • Payroll – Amongst the numerous announcement was also a payroll related one, that Accenture, EPI-USE and NGA HR would take a SAP customers payroll, ‘lift & shift’ it to their environments and have it run / managed from there. An interesting solution for customers who want to use the SAP cloud offerings, but not go through the risk and cost to re-implement a payroll. Pretty sure this will help SAP / SuccessFactors in one or the other competitive situation.
  • Bias & Diversity – Back at Sapphire Thomas Otter and me recorded a video on how software can help eliminate bias and increase diversity (see here) – and now SAP is getting ready to release first product capabilities, starting with a resume parser that flags words that may be offensive or limiting candidate response due to bias or targeting only a slice of the candidate population. In combination with the new Investigate (see below) capability there will be also the functionality to analyze the workforce in regards of bias and diversity.
  • Marketplace - It’s the biennial of the marketplaces, and SuccessFactors does not stand back, launching the "SAP Training Marketplace" for its Learning product. A good start and an area where customers have requested more capabilities. Also a good place to show SAP wide benefits – as SuccessFactors leverage ‘sister division’ hybris capabilities. We will be curios on the uptake.
  • Analytics – I have been critical of SAP’s analytics efforts overall and HCM in specific (see my definition of ‘true’ analytics here) – so it is good to see that things at SuccessFactors are changing for the better. Next to the new Report Center and the upcoming ‘Investigate’ capability, SuccessFactors has now a number of veritable predictive analytics projects ‘under the belt – which is a much better situation than a few quarters ago. We will have to see how yesterday’s SAP BW/HANA announcement may affect the reporting / analytics strategy for whole divisions like SuccessFactors (see our analysis here).


    A good event for SuccessFactors that is growing on all fronts – customers, users, partners, prospects and most importantly product capability. Both SAP CEO Bill McDermott (with a first live appearance at the event) and Mike Ettling mentioned that the largest R&D contribution of SAP is in the HCM area. And with a focus on horizontal capabilities (e.g. User Interface and Reporting), the benefits are visible and delivered quickly. Also good to see that SuccessFactors has followed up on what they said they would deliver at the analyst summit earlier this year (Progress Report here). Moreover, it was good that this was not another ‘EmployeeCentral’ themed SuccessConnect – which for a long time has been the center of attention for good reasons, but almost to the point where traditional SuccessFactors clients on the older SuccessFactors products felt left out. A focus on overall HCM best practices has been good for the conference.

    On the concern side SAP must – like all vendors with a history in the enterprise software market – address the question of technical debt. Some of the acquired older SuccessFactors products are turning double digit if not teenage years old, always a point to rethink and possible rebuild products. At the same time SAP as a company overall is on the quest of rebuilding the suite with S/4HANA and that has repercussions on all product lines – that at least need to be answered (see the BW/HANA announcement happening in parallel). But that is not only a problem for SAP / SuccessFactors – nonetheless an area to watch.

    Overall a good event, good to see activity and progress on all fronts. We also learnt that SAP has an ambitious partner agenda – that should drive EmployeeCentral customers to 2000 by end of the year – from a current base of 1200 and change. We will be watching, but for now congrats to SuccessFactors to a good event, showing value to customers across the SAP HCM capabilities.

    Want to learn more? Checkout the Storify collection below (if it doesn’t show up – check here).


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