Q&A: The Latest on the Open Workday Cloud Platform

Ever since Workday Co-Founder and CEO Aneel Bhusri gave a sneak peek of our intent to open the Workday Cloud Platform to our customer and partner ecosystem, interest and excitement from the entire Workday community has been incredible. As we all know, opening our cloud platform marks a whole new chapter in the Workday story.

As Aneel noted, we were waiting to showcase the bulk of the details until today’s opening executive keynote at Workday Rising, where Dan Beck, senior vice president of Workday platform technology, and Jon Ruggiero, Workday’s chief technology architect, pulled back the curtain on progress, early adopter use cases, and availability of the Workday Cloud Platform.

We sat down with Beck and Ruggiero to learn more about how the Workday Cloud Platform is being used today, and what the future holds.

How is the Workday Cloud Platform different from other Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offerings?

Beck: The Workday Cloud Platform is built on the principle of openness. We’re exposing the building blocks of our applications through RESTful APIs and encouraging customers to leverage the development models, tools, and cloud infrastructure of their choice. Our guiding philosophy is to always deliver the best possible experience for customers, which is why we’re excited that the platform can be used to extend the power of our core applications.

We think our approach to openness is differentiated from other PaaS offerings because of five main pillars we’re using to guide growth of the Workday Cloud Platform:

  • Platform. We expect customers to utilize a combination of Workday Platform Services as well as third-party cloud services. We don’t just think this is okay; we expect it. We even offer reference applications that take advantage of third-party cloud services.
  • APIs. Modern, standards-based APIs expose our applications and our technology platform with no tool-chain dependency.
  • Developer site. A new site tailored to developers, cloud.workday.com, where they can learn, build, and share.
  • Data. Access the same data that our application developers use to build Workday applications—without any data licensing fees.
  • Community. Today our customer community can freely share custom reports and other custom configurations. In the future they will be able to freely share custom applications.

How is Workday supporting customer development?

Ruggiero: When it comes to services, at the core of the platform we are providing tools and methodology to enable customers to design, build, and deploy applications on the Workday Cloud Platform. This starts with our core services, including helping customers manage the application lifecycle, from designing the data model to deploying robust applications.

We have also simplified authentication and integration to Workday APIs with a new single API endpoint and inbound and outbound web hooks. Workday applications are all powered by Workday’s Business Process Framework, and now through the platform customers can create their own business processes. And of course, all applications built on the Workday Cloud Platform are secured using Workday’s configurable security.

Another important thing to note is that we are opening access to some of our underlying technology services to enable customers to build applications that behave like Workday applications, including presentation services, conversation services, content management, and data and analytics. We are exposing some of Workday’s underlying machine learning algorithms and statistical models through the data and analytics services, including time series forecasting, recommendations, and anomaly detection.

Across our suite of applications, including Workday Human Capital Management, Workday Financial Management, and Workday Student, we are investing heavily in APIs to enable applications to work seamlessly with Workday data and transactions. And, I’m excited to share that we are delivering a new Workday query language so you can query Workday’s data model with an intuitive syntax.

All of these services are built to let you focus on building business applications, and not worry about provisioning infrastructure services. This is just the beginning, as we will continue to invest in the platform to make even more capabilities available in the future.

What can you tell us about the developer site?

Ruggiero: The developer site is currently being used by our early adopter customers. It provides everything developers need to quickly get started with the Workday Cloud Platform—a central place for them to learn about and try available services and also tools to help build and manage applications.

We also provide an extensive catalog of sample applications so developers can experience the platform services working together. Developers can also collaborate, and gain more experience with the platform by using the developer console to manage their development resources and applications. And developers can interact with the Workday API with tools like our API explorer.

What are some of the use cases among early adopters?

Beck: We’re seeing lots of exciting things with our early adopters. Below are some of the examples we are able to share:

  • An airline is using the Workday Cloud Platform to support its badging lifecycle.
  • A business intelligence company is creating a custom talent mobility system that visualizes filled and open positions across the globe from within Workday.
  • An entertainment company is using our platform to create a new experience for supplier-managed requisitions.
  • A financial management company is building a private peer-to-peer feedback system for its agile development teams.
  • A manufacturing company is creating an employee portal that merges data from its knowledge base into Workday.
  • Here at Workday, we’re developing a system where employees can respond to mobile alerts that are intelligently routed based on office location and travel itineraries, creating a way to ensure that all employees are safe and accounted for in emergencies.

What are some other examples of the extensions that can be made?

Ruggiero: As Dan mentioned, our customers are already using the Workday Cloud Platform in innovative ways, but some additional examples include:

  • Cross-application workflows. Companies can streamline and automate new business workflows for activities like relocation, employee assistance, and advanced compensation to ultimately simplify their application footprint.
  • Personalized employee experiences. To make Workday even more central to employee engagement, the platform will enable the creation of portals that merge Workday data and functionality with data from external applications, like wellness applications and knowledge bases.
  • Deep integrations with third-party applications. This includes integrating Workday into email or chat applications, enabling employees to do things like request time off via their calendar or collaboration tools. Tight integrations with rideshare or hotel applications could also make for the easy transfer of expense information.
  • Industry-specific extensions and applications. Customers and partners can create solutions tailored to specific vertical markets. For example, this could result in workforce management and recruiting applications for the unique needs of the retail sector.

What about the partner ecosystem?

Beck: Our partners are pumped about building on the Workday Cloud Platform. In fact, today we showcased a great example by Unum illustrating how they could create an extension between Unum and Workday that removes the difficulties their customers’ employees have to go through with the medical underwriting process when electing more benefits coverage. This is just one example of how much excitement and ideation we’ve seen from both services and software partners, who are investing in bringing their broad global expertise, deep industry knowledge, and intellectual property to add more value to the Workday Cloud Platform.

And finally, when will the platform become available?

Beck: We’re working on bringing our design partners into production now with general availability expected in 2018.

Visit the Workday Cloud Platform page. Customers who are interested in learning more should join the Community group at workday.com/cloudplatform.