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Workday sees customers go live with cloud software amid COVID

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Zuko Mdwaba, country lead and MD for SA, Workday.
Zuko Mdwaba, country lead and MD for SA, Workday.

The year of the pandemic has not been all bad for the IT sector. Some of the positives are that IT got a chance to prove its strategic value to the business, and investment in cloud technologies was fast-tracked.

Companies that offered cloud-native solutions and were remote-work-ready came out looking good at the end of what was generally an annus horribilis.

Q3 2021 Workday highlights

  • For Q3 of fiscal 2021, Workday reported a 17.9% increase in revenue from the same period in the previous year.
  • Software subscription revenue grew by 21.3%.
  • Over 190 customer go-lives with Workday finance and human resources management solutions; four of these in SA.
  • Positioned as a "Leader' in the 2020 Gartner magic quadrants for both cloud financial planning and analysis solutions, and cloud HCM suites.

In its December EMEA update, Workday reported customer wins for both of its on‑demand software offerings: financial management and human capital management (HCM).

The Nasdaq-listed, California-based software vendor said its third quarter (ending 31 October) revenues were 18% up compared to the previous year, while subscription revenue grew by 21%.

Gartner placed Workday in the upper-right `Leader’ corner of its magic quadrants for both cloud HCM suites and cloud financial planning and analysis solutions.

The company, traditionally strong in the HCM arena, stressed the "continued momentum in financial management – which has now reached 1 000 customers". It also said it had had some of its largest HCM go-lives, as well as record customer demand on the strategic sourcing (procurement) front.

Zuko Mdwaba, country lead and MD for SA, told ITWeb: “It has been quite encouraging to see the resilience we have had in South Africa from a market point of view…Even though we’ve been in this pandemic, there were customers that went live in the midst of all this. This was all done 100% remotely."

Of the 190 go-lives the company spoke of in its third quarter market update, there were four significant ones in South Africa, coming from different industries.

Ampath Laboratories, Altron and Old Mutual went live with Workday human capital management.

“Having Altron as a customer is a good endorsement for Workday in this part of the world, considering that we operate in a competitive environment and it is a tech company that has alliances with a number of our competitors. But, Altron decided to formulate its HCM strategy with Workday.”

The fourth customer, whose name Mdwaba would not mention, "partnered with Workday on both human capital management and financial management".

The company, which opened its South African offices in February 2018, announced in early 2019 that Absa had gone live, following an earlier implementation at Dimension Data (which also became an implementation partner for Workday in SA). Mdwaba also talked at the time of winning the business of a "large legal firm".

“Something that people don’t realise is that there are more than 250 subsidiaries of global companies that Workday has as customers in SA, one of the most significant in size being Aon.”

Aon globally runs Workday HCM as well as financial management. Mdwaba told an anecdote from a recent Aon webinar, when the presenter showed a blank slide when talking about what they did to adapt operations during COVID – not because he forgot anything, but because nothing had to change in order to start working remotely, overnight.

“That is the power of a true cloud platform,” said Mdwaba.

In the current environment, the ability to plan, execute and analyse has become critical, he added, and this is an area of growth for the company. Workday 2020 Release 2 included Workday Accounting Center and machine learning-driven predictive forecasts for Workday Adaptive Planning, which, according to the company, brings "new levels of visibility and control to the office of the chief financial officer".

As tough as it is with COVID-19, it has been almost a catalyst to demonstrate that it is possible to run financials in the cloud.

Zuko Mdwaba

Mdwaba said that even though the economy is quite depressed, a lot of organisations are realising that moving into digitalisation is critical. It’s a game-changer and it’s what has helped a lot of organisations achieve business continuity. After all, it's not only about today, but also about future-proofing the company for tomorrow.

In terms of financial management adoption, he said CFOs generally don’t rush a move into cloud technologies. “So it has been a journey with a number of organisations, getting them to understand the power of the cloud. As tough as it is with COVID-19, it has been almost a catalyst to demonstrate that it is possible to run financials in the cloud.

“The success that we've had in HCM, planning and analytics, and other areas that we are operating in, is driving that point home. We have an uptime of 99.8% in terms of the service that we provide. From a local perspective, I'm starting to see traction.”

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