Workday Adaptive Insights logos
Workday Adaptive Insights logos

Workday’s Secret Weapon Has “Phenomenal” First Year

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While Workday’s flagship HCM franchise and high-growth Financials business get most of the attention, the company’s acquisition a year ago of planning hotshot Adaptive Insights appears to be the catalyst for Workday’s ongoing success.

Workday did not break out the financial performance of its Adaptive Insights Planning business in its recent earnings call. But CEO Aneel Bhusri did mention these numbers during the Q&A session: “We have a base that’s closing in on 3,000 customers for HR and 700 for Financials and over 4,000 for Adaptive.”

Now, clearly Adaptive had many or even most of those customers before Workday acquired it, in mid-2018. But Bhusri said that as CFOs have begun making planning an absolute top priority, Workday’s been able to parlay its new Planning portfolio into a powerful companion for its existing Financials applications.

I’m going to share three extended comments from Bhusri on the impact Adaptive has made. Because these effusive remarks from the normally understated Bhusri reveal just how big an impact Adaptive has made—and will continue to make—on high-flying Workday.

On the “Phenomenal” First Year

“Yeah, it’s obviously been a great year,” Bhusri said. “My cofounder,  Dave Duffield, and I were actually at Adaptive for an all-hands meeting yesterday with Tom Bogan, the CEO and my good friend. All the key people are still at the company—there’s a lot of momentum, and we’ve had a great first year.

“We expected the product would be a great fit up-market with the Workday customer base and it’s played out exactly that way. And it’s actually happened faster than either Tom or I would have imagined.

“We’ve had some really big wins with big companies like Airbus and AstraZeneca choosing Adaptive.”

Bhusri also emphasized the very similar cultures: “We both care about our employees and our customers, and both are high-integrity places. If there were five more companies like Adaptive out there, we would probably look at making those acquisitions. 

“Unfortunately, those are few and far between. But it’s really been a phenomenal first year.”

Can Adaptive Open the Door for Workday Financials?

“There is no question that it’s helping our pipeline for Financials. If you look at the priorities for CFOs, planning is way at the top of the list and Adaptive has a best-in-class planning product for not only finance but also increasingly for workforce planning,” said Bhusri.

“So it’s a great entry point and broadens the conversation. And if a customer is not quite ready for our core financials, we’re okay with that because we can get in the door with planning and can follow it up later.

But there’s just no question that Adaptive broadens the appeal for us.”

On the Current Transition to Selling More to Existing Customers

“The last three or four years, we’ve been focused on getting new accounts,” Bhusri said. “But now we have a base that’s closing in on 3,000 customers for HR and 700 for Financials and over 4,000 for Adaptive.

“So we now have a big installed base and probably need to adjust our thinking a little about the best way to go back to that base with a bigger footprint on our sales side.”


As the global economy shifts to digital, businesses will need to be able to move faster than ever before, adjust and adapt more quickly than ever before, and anticipate market shifts more precisely than ever before.

All of those new capabilities will require new levels of planning expertise. So look for the other big SaaS players in the Cloud Wars to channel what Workday’s done with Adaptive during this “phenomenal” first year.

Disclosure: at the time of this writing, Workday was a client of Cloud Wars Media LLC.


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