Soccer team in a huddle

Mike Ettling at SuccessConnect 2015: Charting a Low Risk, High Return Journey to Cloud-Based HR

August 12, 2015 by Susan Galer 23

Mike Ettling, President of HR Line of Business at SAP, kicked off the SuccessFactors 2015 event in Las Vegas this week by comparing the transformation of Human Resources (HR) to the incredible journey in Jules Verne’s classic adventure novel, “Around the World in 80 Days.”

Watch replays of SuccessConnect 2015 keynote, general, and breakout sessions at Best of SuccessConnect.

Ettling’s star-studded keynote featured opening act performers from The Second City comedy theatre, Jonathan Tager, CEO of groupelephant.com, customers from Boston Scientific and Disney, and a telephone conversation with SAP CEO, Bill McDermott. His message to the thousands of attendees was that digitization is irrevocably changing business, moving HR to the cloud.

“We need to think about HR transformation as a journey, not just a destination. Success is going to be about how we rethink our approach to HR. The cloud is the biggest enabler of this journey,” he said. “Imagine a world in which technology eases this transformation, freeing up your people to do more meaningful work in a competitive world. You don’t have to imagine it because we’re going to show it to you in the next two days.”

Remarking that disruptors are disrupting the disruptors, Ettling said that the digital impact is tremendous on business today. “HR cannot ignore what is happening in business, and what you need in HR is a low risk, high return journey to undertake and get to the cloud.”

Ettling explained that this year’s event theme, “Simplifying the way the world works,” focused on three elements: simple to run, simple to use and simple to engage with. “Simple to run is all the things we and our partners do to enable our technology to enable you to be successful with your people. Simple to use is all about your people, ensuring they have the tools, information, processes – when they come to work they don’t feel they’re going backwards in technology. Simple to engage is about how we work together.”

Paying off on the promise

Ettling told the packed audience how SAP has delivered on its commitments made since last year’s event, including new Intelligent Services to accelerate innovation, easy-to-use tools, greater road map transparency and advanced partner training and certification.

“Launch Optimization is a QA Service offered to enable rapid deployment, ensuring you don’t go down the wrong journey,” he said. “We have also launched professional certification for partners, the highest level of training and certification. Besides technical knowledge and experience, it requires high customer satisfaction ratings. We heard your feedback about wanting tools that are easier to use, so we’ve created a series of centers as part of our Expert Self-Services to enable easy integration and extensions. We now offer enablement training directly to your system administrators.”

Ettling also discussed the rollout of the Partner Rating tool, implemented with ASUG (Americas’ SAP Users’ Group), to help customers evaluate and find the right partner. In addition, following the success of the openSAP MOOC, “Introduction to SuccessFactors,” Ettling announced open enrollment for the next MOOC, “Run Simple HR with SuccessFactors Employee Central.”

Bill McDermott on HR’s role in digital business

During his conversation with Ettling, McDermott spotlighted Under Armour as a prime example of digital business, reflected in that company’s rapidly expanding direct-to-consumer strategy. His point was that Under Armour has aligned its business model to any channel and any device to know its consumers better than the competition. Central to that strategy is having the right top talent on board. “Every CEO realizes that the Number One function is HR, and you have to keep it close to the strategy so the company can deal with this massive, consumer-oriented change, making sure that they have the people power to deal with transformation,” said McDermott.

Technology innovation powers the journey

According to Ettling, one of the biggest transformations cloud-based technology brings to HR is changing the focus from processes to business outcomes. He outlined how SAP is committed to keep customers on the path to success. “Complexity is the real killer in the workplace,” he said. “HR is going through this move to the cloud to get to simplicity and standards. We want to be that trusted partner on this journey.”

Although Ettling said many companies will have hybrid environments, he also predicted that in the next three years, HR will definitely be in the cloud. Emphasizing his message that the future of HR is no HR, Ettling said that people management will become more strategic and data-driven. “HR is not going to exist purely for the sake of HR. HR is there to become the enabler of the business, the CEO agenda, the trusted right hand of senior executives in the business. When the relationship between the CEO, CHRO and CFO is working, those CEOs are more successful than their peers.”

A comedy team of performers from the Second City Theatre sang and danced their way through the five generations in the workplace in an opening skit at SuccessConnect 2015

A comedy team of performers from the Second City Theatre sang and danced their way through the five generations in the workplace in an opening skit at SuccessConnect 2015

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