Developing Workday Big Data Analytics With Customers, For Customers

At last year’s Workday Rising our Co-Founder and Co-CEO Aneel Bhusri announced our plans to offer Workday Big Data Analytics. Earlier today, Aneel announced during his Workday Rising 2013 keynote address that Workday Big Data Analytics is now available as part of our latest update, Workday 20. The timing is very fitting, and not just because it’s our annual customer conference. Our customer design partners played a tremendous role in the development of this product and defining how “big data” can be applied to their human resources and financial data in a way that results in better business decisions.

“Big data” has been hyped in the past few years and for many people it’s become this intimidating, confusing, and scary thing. There’s a constant litany of technology buzzwords associated with it—Hadoop, Pig, Hive, etc.—and so many vendors operating in different segments of the space, it’s hard to make sense of the value big data brings. When we approached building a new analytics offering, we were committed to leveraging big data technologies with one goal in mind: answering real business problems. Further, it was important the solution featured Workday’s hallmark ease of use.

For our customers, big data is about opening up the Workday cloud to import non-Workday data to more readily make business decisions. HR professionals are being asked to make very strategic choices that affect their business: “What should we be paying our top talent? Where should we hire? Do we have the headcount to meet growth ambitions?” Yet they’re being asked to make these decisions with disjoined information spread across many data sources, without a way to bring it all together into something meaningful. Finance teams, meanwhile, are focused on profitability, and external data such as the economic conditions in the regions in which they operate. They are also concerned with competitive financial benchmarks, and how the performance of their suppliers can affect the way they run their business.

Consider the example of a global company that’s developing compensation plans for teams in dozens of countries, including India. In the past few weeks, the rupee has declined to a record low. The currency rate is relevant to that company’s compensation plan for India, yet it is not something that has traditionally existed within the Workday system. Other outside data will be relevant to that plan too, including employment rates in the region where its workforce is located or where it may be hiring, and competitive benchmark data on regional salaries. We now offer tools that will make understanding the impact of this information easier (such as our market compensation comparison template that brings in external benchmark surveys).

We also have templates for finance, including one that provides a competitive financial benchmark that lets a business evaluate its overall performance against the competition by combining data within Workday such as operating margin, revenue, and return on invested capital (ROIC), and comparing it with publicly available data sets from a competitor’s financial statement filings (yes, using XBRL for you finance geeks out there).

And the really cool thing is people including data analysts and executives will have this rich information at their fingertips, in a browser or on their mobile devices so they can take immediate action.

I had the opportunity to lead an incredibly talented product team that, along with more than 20 customer design partners representing many industries and geographies, have built a product that brings big data down to Earth. We are empowering users to answer their own questions about what will make their businesses more effective and strategic. I’m delighted to celebrate with them today the availability of this new offering at an event that’s all about them.