CEO Aneel Bhusri, who is turning up the heat vs. Oracle at Workday
CEO Aneel Bhusri, who is turning up the heat vs. Oracle at Workday

Workday Vs. Oracle and SAP: Turning Up Heat in Red-Hot Financials Market

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While Workday has long been synonymous with the HR market, its fast-growing Financials business and greatly enhanced product lineup have made it a very serious competitor for traditional heavyweights Oracle and SAP.

For its fiscal started Feb. 1, Workday said it expects revenue for its Financials portfolio to grow in the “low 40’s percent” while its flagship HCM business grows in the “high teens” on a percentage basis.

That robust growth comes as Workday continues to expand its suite of SaaS applications for the office of the CFO. The suite now includes not only Financials but also Adaptive Insights Business Planning, Prism Analytics, and Scout RFP procurement, which is the newest member of the Workday family.

Here are some details on each for the fiscal Q4 ended Jan. 31:

  • Financials

Workday added a record-high of 90 new Financials customers, making Q4 “the best quarter we’ve ever had for Financials,” according to CEO Aneel Bhusri;

  • Adaptive Insights

With 350 new customers, this team had “not only their best quarter ever, but growth even accelerated in the fourth quarter for our planning products,” said Bhusri. “The growth rate for the Business Planning Cloud is significantly faster than for the rest of Workday,” he added.

  • Prism Analytics added more than 100 new customers.
  • Newly acquired Scout RFP Procurement

According to Bhusri, Scout RFP Procurement “had an excellent initial quarter as well with strong momentum on sourcing opportunities both standalone and as part of Workday spend-management offerings.”

Workday Turns Up the Heat in Financials Market

Over the past few years, CFOs have been cautious about moving to the cloud. But with the arrival of more and better SaaS solutions, those business leaders are becoming more aggressive and could well open the doors to an enormous market.

“The office of the CFO has begun to look at planning, analytics, and transactions together and want a unified system. And our message is resonating,” Bhusri said.

That desire for a unified view has also begun to take hold beyond the CFO realm as more and more businesses are finding valuable business synergies across Financials and HCM, Bhusri noted.

“No question that the suite market is picking up: today I think one of every four customers has both product lines,” he said. 

“And what we saw again in the fourth quarter was a bunch again of Financials-first customers and that’s a great sign for us. That means our Financials products are winning on a best-of-breed basis even without the leverage from the HR marketplace.”

Mid-sized corporations are beginning to buy HR and Finance together, he added, but at least for now, large corporations will buy them separately because “that’s just the way they’ve done it historically.” 

How Workday Competes for SAP and Oracle Customers

During the call, Adaptive Insights founder and CEO Tom Bogan described the dynamics Workday is finding in competing against traditional giants Oracle and SAP for planning customers. 

Noting that Workday’s added about 1,000 planning customers since it acquired Adaptive Insights about 18 months ago, Bogan said, “That’s a combination of customers where we’re selling planning first, as well as customers where we’re selling into the Workday installed base. 

“We’re very pleased with the progress we’ve made particularly with larger enterprise customers both as they look at financial planning and for workforce planning applications as well.”

Bogan was then asked if those opportunities are greenfield or legacy. 

“We see both. There are customers who are converting from legacy on-premises solutions and they want a cloud solution for planning, and they’re typically coming from an Oracle or an SAP solution,” Bogan said. 

“There are also customers where we still see spreadsheets in many parts of their enterprises. Even if they have a legacy planning solution, the model and business logic is in spreadsheets so we’re a great solution to bring that planning process into the cloud. 

“So it’s typically Anaplan or Oracle for our cloud competes, and we have done exceptionally well in those competes,” Bogan said.

Workday Differentiates Itself with Real-Time Analytics

In today’s data-driven economy, Prism Analytics is becoming a transformational tool for not only CFOs but other business leaders as well, said CEO Bhusri.

“As we bring out more-specific solutions like people analytics and as we go into finance analytics and spend analytics, I think it’s going to be even more powerful,” Bhusri said.

“But the idea that you can plan, execute, and analyze in one system and not have to worry about how data goes back and forth between the different systems and you can do all that in a real-time basis—that’s really resonating.”

With its renewed emphasis on its ability to differentiate as a first-mover with advanced technologies such as machine learning, and with an expanding product line that helps executives get an end-to-end real-time view of their operations and opportunities, Workday’s become a worthy and broad-based competitor to some of the world’s largest software companies.

That portfolio, Bhusri said, “delivers a total solution that is highly differentiated and helps to empower business leaders to plan, execute, analyze, and extend all in one system powered by machine learning.”

Disclosure: at the time of this writing, Workday was among the many clients of Cloud Wars Media LLC and/or Evans Strategic Communications LLC.


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