The Power of One

I’ve obviously been to many customer conferences, and still, year after year, the Workday Rising conference amazes me with the positive mood that prevails when our customers, partners, employees, and even some prospective customers gather together.

Workday is still coming down from our conference last month. It was an awesome event with the most attendees, sponsors, breakout sessions, and keynote speakers we’ve ever assembled. In the hallways, people were in high spirits. In sessions and the partner expo, discussions were engaging. When I talked with attendees, they told me about the ways in which Workday has revolutionized their jobs.

Our internal data confirms the mood. Every fall, I survey the executive sponsors at each of our customers to gauge whether Workday is living up to its promises. This year’s survey results report that 99 percent of our customers have a favorable opinion of Workday. Similarly, 95 percent of the respondents voted that they are likely to recommend Workday.

This isn’t always the case. Years ago, at a previous company, I remember deflecting the harsh words of unhappy customers in a room full of conference attendees. Back then, customers were all on different versions, different database platforms, and with different customizations, maintenance schedules, and country rules. Needs and issues were not common and therefore difficult to manage or service. Some customers were always trying to catch up and others were always way ahead. You couldn’t put all your customers in a room and have an effective discussion that touched everyone.

Which brings me back to Workday today and the value of real SaaS

As my friend Marc Benioff, CEO of, pointed out at Oracle OpenWorld last month, in the cloud, startups as well as some of the largest and most important companies in the world are running on the same services and servers with the same capabilities in every country. “Democratic” he calls cloud computing.

Taking that another step further, all Workday customers are on the same version of our software, and everyone’s input moves the product forward for the good of everyone else. When we make a change to our product to help Flextronics, for example, that same change might be something Illumina would benefit from as well.

This—the power of one code line—is what I believe makes the Workday customer community so strong and satisfied. Everyone talks the same language. Everyone works from the same update. Although Workday products are configurable to meet the individual business needs of an organization or even a department, everyone has the same basic foundation. That is, we’re all choosing to be more efficient, to save money and other resources, to operate more sustainably, and to work collaboratively to build and deploy innovative, cost-effective solutions.

As we move into 2011, Aneel and I look forward to a productive year of more of the same with some innovative twists and customer-driven substance included. Our confidence, of course, comes from the fact that our customers are behind us, pushing, inspiring, and working alongside us—mobilizing the power of one Workday community to move our business solutions forward for a greater common good.