Likening the cloud journey to the childhood game, “Snakes and Ladders,” Mike Ettling maps out a game plan companies can follow for success.
When Mike Ettling, President of HR Line of Business at SAP/SuccessFactors, asked the audience at the SAPInsider HR 2015 Conference in Las Vegas this week to join him in a game of Snakes and Ladders, they were only too happy to play along. In his thought-provoking keynote, entitled, “How Moving Your HR to the Cloud is Like the Game “Snakes & Ladders,” Ettling took the enthusiastic group of human resource (HR) professionals through a dice-rolling exercise on a game board, during which they learned how to avoid the vipers, and find the path to the cloud platform that transforms HR into a strategic business partner.
“The goal is to get to cloud at the end of the game, and there are many snakes that can take you back along the way, and many ladders you should use to get to where you want to go. But at the end of the day, it’s not about getting to the cloud. It’s about what it does to transform HR,” he said.
Ettling said HR departments are leading the way in cloud adoption because they know it’s the catalyst for change driven by four major trends: talent management, the just-in-time workforce, a workplace composed five generations and simplification. Replacing customization with configuration and extensibility, cloud has the power to help organizations innovate faster in this new era.
Beware the Vipers
In a lively conversation, Ettling took the audience through a series of “snakes” and how to beat them. These included developing a business case that creates context, and ensuring software adoption – two things that stymy many HR teams. “There’s no point doing this if you don’t have alignment in your C-Suite. You have to get everyone to understand how soft benefits will manifest…you also have to get people to use the solution.”
Ettling said that SAP has recently invested in over 200 adoption executives focused solely on helping customers use its new cloud solutions for competitive advantage. He also said that the purpose of innovations like the SAP HANA Cloud Platform is to pay off on the promise of cloud with simplified extensibility, allowing customers to add innovations easily.
“We’re standardizing and simplifying. We’re not customizing. The HANA Cloud platform enables you to build out applications integrated to our core data models. Extensibility is about building paths to differentiation, doing something very unique.”
Ettling added that customers and partners such as EnterpriseJungle are building applications on the SAP HANA Cloud platform that enhance HR applications in a way that no other company can.
Among the snakes Ettling warned about was the “vendor viper” that promised a slow and painful death by advocating a rip and replace approach to software. He cited research from industry analyst firm Forrester that found only four percent of companies said having a single data architecture was important.
“We see vendor vipers pitching rip and replace. Those gazillions you’ve invested in on-premise software, they want you to throw it. Once you’ve ripped out the core, you no longer have the modules you actually need, like performance management or succession management. You can’t get your hands on those because you’ve run out of money.”
Advocating instead a low-risk approach to the cloud that delivers the best return-on-investment, Ettling reinforced SAP’s commitment to support its on-premise HR solution to 2025. “We’re coming with tools and a road map to help you realize the investment you’ve made, and then move to where you want to go based on your HR transformation.”
The complexity copperhead is equally deadly, said Ettling. This happens when companies re-implement old processes in new technology. He advises companies to focus on detractors and supporters at the right time. “You try to enforce standards but there’s always that one old process that someone has to have. The choreography of a roll-out is really important to the success of your HR journey.”
Similarly, Ettling cautioned against the cost constrictor that squeezes every last cent from IT budgets with separate best-of-breed vendors that lack integration but add complexity via multiple release cycles and contractual demands. This can prevent companies from ever getting the complete HR system they need.
Ladders to Success
In subsequent dice rolls, Ettling revealed ladders to success. These included scoping out the change management needed to make cloud work for the company, globalized and localized workforce management, seamless integration between on-premise and cloud solutions, and selecting partners with cloud best practices. He also emphasized the importance of predictive analytics and adoption combined with user experience, showcasing the capabilities of the combined SAP and SuccessFactors portfolio in a hybrid model.
“Analytics need to be in workflow and you have to be able to trigger actions straight out of analytics,” said Ettling. “That’s what our workforce analytics does, and you can also bring our cloud analytics data and workflow across both the cloud and your on-premise solutions in our hybrid model.”
Noting that customer adoption of Employee Central, the company’s core HR solution, grew 92 percent in the past year, Ettling discussed how SAP supports deep localization for 28 countries. “We take away the burden of compliance by building it into the solution.”
Ettling was joined on stage by Megan Masoner, Senior Vice President of Human Capital at NTT DATA, a USD$112 billion Japanese-based IT services and telecom company. Mason described NTT’s cloud journey using Employee Central to manage a fast-growing workforce. “For our HR organization, this has been a game-changer. We can spend more time being strategic and less time being tactical.”
In his final dice roll, Ettling revealed the winning move, how cloud done right delivers comprehensive, simplified, standardized HR that engages employees of every generation with an incredible self-service experience enabling agile, global expansion.
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