Rising Stars: The People(Soft) People

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Ever wonder what became of Dave Duffield? The PeopleSoft founder has always been a bit ahead of the curve in his passion to tackle the back-office functions of the enterprise, but he’s rarely been wrong. After PeopleSoft lost its long and bloody 18-month-long battle to forestall an acquisition by Oracle, Duffield took some time off to contemplate his next move. The result? Another back-office software provider, this time hitched to the midmarket and the software-as-a-service (SaaS) delivery model.  

Noting a fondness for Workday’s “strong executives and great team,” Michael Fauscette, group vice president for software business solutions at IDC, reserves his highest praise for the offering itself. “The product is innovative and they are strong in the midmarket.” Fauscette’s not alone in his praise for the technology. “Workday’s innovative user experience, approach to cloud computing, and understated approach make it unique in a very flashy SaaS market,” says Ray Wang, a partner at Altimeter Group (another of this year’s Rising Stars). 

And in this marketplace, Workday may as well have the field to itself—aside from other human capital management players such as fellow 2010 Rising Star SuccessFactors. “There’s not much competition from a SaaS perspective,” Fauscette says, though he notes rumblings from SAP and NetSuite. “SAP would claim that [its new Business ByDesign offering] is competitive but I’m not convinced,” he says.

“What’s really good about Workday other than the SaaS appeal,” says Predrag Jakovljevic, principal analyst at Technology Evaluation Centers, “is [its] in-memory stuff, which might have been validated by SAP’s obsession with the technology and thus [SAP’s] Sybase buy, in part.”

That said, Workday’s expansive view of the future for enterprise resource planning (ERP) software may be relegated to just that—the future. “Steady growth, name customers, and continued expansion of its HCM boundaries have become the plat du jour at Workday,” says China Martens, senior analyst for enterprise software at The 451 Group. “However, ‘mañana’ best describes plans for soup-to-nuts financial management software and a full ERP suite.”

Workday may not mind the opportunity to burnish its image and raise its profile. In the meantime, we’ll sit back and watch the market come around to Dave Duffield’s way of thinking.


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