Quietly but intensely amassing a $47-billion market cap on the strength of 2,700 customers, Workday’s very likely to post its first $1-billion quarter later this year.
In spite of its rapidly expanding revenue, customer count and product portfolio, Workday has remained deeply committed to core principles that have been indispensable parts of that success since its founding in 2005. Those include a powerful customer-centered culture, a commitment to advanced technology, and a fierce independence that’s given it the ability to take the long view in an industry often obsessed with short-term glitter.
Few companies in any industry have grown at the pace or scale that Workday’s achieved, so it was illuminating to spend 30 minutes recently discussing strategy, culture, customers, competition and more with senior vice-president for strategy and head of Workday Ventures Leighanne Levensaler.
From Levensaler’s compelling perspectives on customers to growth opportunities and doing things the right way instead of the easy way, here are some highlights.
The Workday Promise: Plan, Execute, Analyze.
“We’re really helping our customers plan, execute, and analyze their business all in one solution. And it’s an incredible market opportunity for us, but more importantly it’s essential for customers to be able to have this kind of agility and operational efficiency as they really get after the digital transformation efforts that they have on their plates.”
M&A, Opportunities, and an $80-Billion TAM.
“We are very much focused on synergistically investing to help our customers achieve their objectives to support their digital transformations and to support growing their businesses and maintaining a high-quality workforce and a ready workforce. And so to that end, we’ve still got a lot of opportunity within the $80-billion total addressable market that we’re in and with the buyers that we serve today…
“We have a very broad and rich portfolio of offerings, but we don’t do everything today. We will never do everything, but certainly there are some more things we want to get after right within our strike zone that are very obvious. But we’ll do them in an innovative way, which is how we’ve approached everything at Workday.”
Playing the Long Game.
“We have always taken the harder, longer road. Because we know that if you take the long view—and these are long-term relationships we’re establishing with our customers—and they expect us to continuously innovate. So we’re not managing for the quarter. We are not managing for the year. We are managing for generations, with our customers.
“It’s easy to look for shortcuts—there’s always a temptation to say, ‘How quickly can we get this out? Can we be first to market? Can we do this?’ But the bigger question needs to be, ‘Can we do it the right way? And that’s where we’ve always landed at Workday… We’re building it the right way for the long haul.”
Getting into the Platform Business.
“We’ve been working with our customers to extend their Workday experience to meet some of their unique needs, and to be able to better bring together multiple clouds for a multi-cloud environment in terms of applications and services. And that means how do we use Workday as an essential point in bringing experiences together for their workers… We’re in limited general availability, but we have almost 100 customers that are building and doing interesting things on our platform…
“And so if you want to help people do their jobs better, if you want to help them get across a journey that transcends multiple applications in your environment, you’ve got to open up your platform and start to embrace these other services, these other applications in a meaningful way. Because we’re never going to have thousands of applications—nor do we have ambitions to do that. But we do have ambitions to serve our customers by delivering great experiences.”
The Power of Culture and Shared Values.
“When I started, we were a couple of hundred people. Now we have troops and legions of people—and then ecosystem and alumni now out there and companies. And so I think it’s this simple, beautiful recipe that our founders put in front of us that said, these are our values. Technology is going to change, right? Business problems are going to change. Regulatory environments are going to change. That’s all going to change, constantly. But our values are our True North. This is our most important thing we need focus on, and everything else will sort itself out.”
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