SuccessConnect 2015: Simple isn’t Easy

I was once again on the road to Vegas this week for SuccessConnect 2015, the annual SuccessFactors/SAP user conference. I was asked by one of the hosting executives how many years I had been attending this event, to which I replied that it depended on which event he meant. I have been to user events for SuccessFactors, InfoHRM and Plateau prior to the latter two being acquired by SuccessFactors, and SAP events before and after its acquisition of SuccessFactors. I think this means I’m getting old. But this perspective on the elements that have come together to make up the current SAP SuccessFactors HCM offering was helpful as we heard about the developments and plans on which Mike Ettling, President, HCM Line of Business, and his team have been working.


One clear theme emerging from the keynote was a focus on simplification. But as Ettling noted, simplifying isn’t always easy. It requires discipline to identify and keep what’s important and effective while getting rid of the rest, and then using technology to make what’s left even more efficient. But it’s not just about simplifying for business efficiency. It’s about simplifying workflows and integrations so people can execute HCM processes like performance management and workforce planning in line with their day-to-day work, and allow employees to focus on customer priorities. It was noted time and again by many speakers that employees are at the heart of how customers will view your organization. Simplifying their work experience and engaging the workforce is now recognized as a critical element of business success.

Simplification through integration was also a theme, reflected in the announcement of a global reseller agreement with WorkForce Software to provide time and attendance, scheduling and absence solutions under the name SAP Time and Attendance Management. Ettling reinforced the notion that with cloud solutions it’s not about having 50 partners, but having deep integration with fewer, simplifying the implementation and ongoing operation. This kind of deep integration with solution providers that bring extensive domain expertise in key areas will also allow users to take advantage of key point solutions while also experiencing the benefits of a unified solution.

SAP SuccessFactors also hopes to simplify self-service, reinventing it as Intelligent Services. The theory behind Intelligent Services is using technology to proactively manage the many “ripples” of change and communication that result from HR events like a leave of absence, promotion, relocation or other availability or structural changes. Intelligent Services builds out workflows to manage the tactical elements of these changes – what paperwork needs to be completed, what office space is required or becoming available – as well as communications that need to take place – how to reroute processes in which you were and approver. Built with many scenarios already in mind, machine learning will help the solution continue to get more predictive as it experiences the real world situations that occur in organizations.

Simple is never easy, but anyone who’s ever made the effort to organize her closet or basement — let alone HR processes — knows it’s worth it. Simplification focuses us on what’s important, eliminates the time we spend looking for things and wondering what to do, and frees us to be more strategic and service-oriented. Getting to simple will be an ongoing journey for SAP SuccessFactors, its partners and its customers, but one that can be well worth it.

Mollie Lombardi, VP and Principal Analyst,
Workforce Management, Brandon Hall Group

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