2017 in Review and a Look Ahead for SAP SuccessFactors

When I accepted the role to run the SAP SuccessFactors business, I was excited about both the technology and how we were helping customers, in every industry, get ahead of digital transformation.

What I quickly learned is that HR’s role in digital transformation is not just bringing in new technology solutions; it’s making sure employees see the value in adopting these solutions as part of their everyday lives. No matter how much HR may love a solution, if everyone in the business doesn’t see the benefits it won’t matter. Putting people at the center of digital transformation and focusing on the employee experience is the only way to reach our intended goals.

At SAP SuccessFactors, we’re focused on areas that are critical to your people, but also your business. Here’s where we bring unique capabilities:

  • User experience: Business success doesn’t just come from products or services, or the IP behind them. It’s the people who create those products, services and IP that make the difference. I think the focus on the experience at work is going to continue to dominate in 2018. Our focus is on making sure everyone in your organization, not just the HR experts, love the technology given to them to get their work done.
  • The depth and breadth across our suite:  I’m proud the team has been recognized again by IDC, Gartner, Forrester, and others as a leader. The difference between back office HR and strategic partner to the business hangs with talent management.
  • Our focus on native global capabilities: We’re seeing more and more challenging regulations and legislation that require constant monitoring and updating, something we take care of for our customers. And that extends to areas of data privacy – a perfect example is sitting just months away with GDPR, which will hit almost every global company. Non-compliance will lead to heavy fines. The impact to our technology is significant because we are dealing with the very specific data that these regulations hit – people data. We want to relieve our customers of that headache. These regulations will constantly change and expand. This will continue to be a big focus for us in our dev cycles, and we’re making massive investments to address the storage requirements of these regulations, which not everyone is going to be able to do.
  • SAP HANA:  Our in-memory capabilities are a big advantage for today’s apps – combining speed with how we digest, analyze and combine data with other unstructured data helps us make decisions about business and how we grow for the future. And we’re thinking way beyond the platform to where we might re-think our apps given SAP HANA’s in-memory capabilities.
  • Analytics: In 2018, we will roll out our analytics on SAP Analytics. This will turbo charge where we can take machine learning and other data capabilities that we’re already using today.

SAP SuccessFactors in 2017

It’s always worth a few minutes to look back on the year. I have to start with our customers. As of our third quarter of 2017, we surpassed 6,400 customers across the globe, with over 2,000 customers for SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central, our core HR solution, doubling our 1,000 customer milestone reached less than two years before. Check out this post from our head of product Amy Wilson on what’s next for SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central.

Business moves fast in our era of digital transformation and that requires making investments that quickly deliver results. One of my favorite illustrations about just how far HR has come in the past several years is Corning, Inc. – the 40,000 employee, New York-based industrial glass and ceramic manufacturer – with its best-known product, Gorilla Glass, incorporated by more than 40 manufacturers into 4.5 billion devices worldwide, including Apple Inc.’s iPhone and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.’s Galaxy line. This is not about “a seat at the table,” this is about being integral to the organization’s success.

Here are some other stories of how our customers are leading their company’s transformation:

We have over 140 million users of our systems today. That is impressive! I want to thank each of our customers, totaling more than 6,400, for your trust and partnership.

Product Highlights:

  • Mobile UX reinvented with Apple: We’ve made a massive push over the past three releases in co-development with Apple to transform the user experience on any Apple device to be consumer-grade. We are also now working with Google for Android. This makes a huge difference for everyone in your organization, because it ensures they want to use the apps. It’s about being totally mobile – I personally transact the vast majority of my business from my mobile phone, because I’m rarely sitting still at a desk. We will continue to invest here because UX is so important to adoption. Check out this demo.
  • Health & Well-being partnerships including Thrive Global: As businesses put people at the heart of their success, addressing their health and well-being is increasingly important. Not only can it result in financial gains like reduced absenteeism, or lower health care costs, addressing “well being” can make your organization a more attractive place to work. Our Q4 release provides you actively curated content under “Unplug and Recharge” in SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central. Think expert tips on setting boundaries with technology and improving productivity. Read this story on our co-innovations with Thrive Global.
  • Taking Business Beyond Bias: Bias in how we manage our people is often unconscious. We are working to eliminate this hidden bias with intelligent technology. Our Q4 release introduced the new job analyzer tool, as part of the SAP SuccessFactors Recruiting solution, to flag words associated with gender bias in job descriptions. This functionality uses machine learning capabilities from SAP Leonardo to help create effective job descriptions that help teams attract competitive and diverse talent. We also introduced the capability to create bias prevention rules during the calibration process that alert a manager in situations where unconscious bias may be at play, such as when an employee is being overlooked for a promotion after consistent high performance or an employee is being given a low performance rating following a leave of absence. This is the true power of data for taking business beyond bias – as real-time and actionable insights become available to people across the organization.
  • SAP SuccessFactors People Central Hub: Many HR leaders are stuck with legacy HR applications or disparate systems from growth by acquisition. We introduced SAP SuccessFactors People Central Hub to integrate people data from an organization’s different core HR systems (regardless of vendor), and combine it with enterprise data from SAP S/4HANA and other downstream business applications – think Fieldglass, Concur, and others – for a real-time consolidated view of the business. It also makes people data accessible to everyone in simple and interactive ways, such as employee profiles and organizational charts, bringing them immediate value and in turn helping build support for cloud transformation. Here’s a recent interview with David Ludlow on the capabilities of SAP SuccessFactors People Central Hub.
  • Power of We: There are over 120 applications available today from our partners to help you address specific business needs in combination with our HCM suite. Many of these are built on  SAP Cloud Platform to seamlessly interact with your full landscape of SAP solutions. We partner with the best in the industry to bring you the latest technology, be it data encryption, digital employee records management, or benefits administration. This is the Power of We. Explore our extension apps on the SAP App Center.
  • Power of We across SAP: At SAP SuccessFactors, we have 3,000 people and the freedom to innovate backed by the full SAP organization across the globe, giving us the ability to tap into additional innovations – machine learning, IoT, data security and much more as well as allowing us to provide customers a unified experience not just across our solutions but with SAP solutions like SAP S/4HANA.

I’m really excited for 2018 and look forward to sharing more on what you’ll see from SAP SuccessFactors in a couple weeks.

Greg Tomb is president of SAP SuccessFactors