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Big Moves at SAP and Workday Highlight a Big First Quarter in HCM

sap-logoWe know the end of the first quarter of 2014 is still three weeks away but given how much has happened in the last two months, you can’t blame us for thinking we’ve got more than enough new deals to chew on. Last week, The Starr Conspiracy Intelligence Unit dropped two industry bulletins on Workday and SAP’s latest.

First, SAP hired former NGA Human Resources CEO Mike Ettling to run their cloud HR division after former SuccessFactors president Shawn Price was bumped up to oversee all of SAP’s cloud offerings. Here’s a snip from the industry bulletin:

Steve Smith, partner at The Starr Conspiracy and head of The Starr Conspiracy Intelligence Unit, said that SAP is at an inflection point in their cloud HR strategy. “They acquired SuccessFactors to play catch up with their cloud strategy — a move that has paid off well. They’ve crammed six or seven years of innovation into the past three years of product development,” he said. “However, they need to reconcile who SAP has been in the past — a global leader in on-premises enterprise solutions — to who they need to become to compete with Workday, Oracle, and Salesforce — the global leader in cloud computing.”

This move has been unheralded but we think it comes at a significant time for SAP. We will be following it closely, but for now, you can read the most comprehensive coverage of the hire here.

Second, Workday acquired big data recruiting player Identified. Most of the coverage of the deal has been focused on Identified’s functional capabilities to date, primarily in talent acquisition. Based on both Identified’s capabilities and where Workday should be in their product development cycle for their recruiting product, we don’t imagine it will have a huge impact at launch.

That being said, the acquisition should be a wake up call to anyone working on big data in the HCM space — especially those of the startup variety — according to the bulletin:

Any smaller organization that is doing unique things with data and analytics in the human capital space should be asking themselves who their data scientists are having coffee with after work. We’re only half joking. It’s not only going to be tougher to fly under the radar after this acquisition is fully realized, it’s going to be tougher to field the heavy-hitting talent that can bring the vision of next-generation HCM to light.

The Workday deal has a lot of intrigue for us about what a company with the vision and resources of Workday can do when they invest in some big data minds and tools across a cloud platform. True machine learning across an ERP/HCM platform? Read more about the acquisition here.

Are you seeing anything else going on in the enterprise software space that is intriguing to you? Drop a comment or an email to