Absa goes live with Workday's 'happy employees' promise

Read time 3min 30sec
Chano Fernandez, Workday co-president.
Chano Fernandez, Workday co-president.

Workday South Africa country manager Zuko Mdwaba previously stated the enterprise cloud applications company is "going big in Africa".

The local subsidiary of the born-in-the-cloud enterprise software company has since revealed Absa went live with Workday's human capital management (HCM) deployment this week.

Speaking at a press briefing in Johannesburg yesterday, Mdwaba said Absa is the company's second customer to go live since the local office opened 14 months ago.

"We believe in very simple things. They are certainly not rocket science, but if you do them well, they can take you quite far," said co-president Chano Fernandez.

The company puts workplace culture and customer satisfaction at the core of business, in line with its motto that "happy employees lead to happy customers".

Fernandez, who was in SA this week, said Workday walks this talk, being "known as the best place to work for in the US, UK, Ireland, Germany and many other places".

Competing with larger enterprise software vendors, SAP and Oracle, Workday bets on its pure-play cloud foundations.

"We are a young company, turning 14 years old this year," noted Fernandez. "We were born from a clean sheet of paper; we developed a new architecture to support core business processes in the cloud, mainly for finances, HR and analytics."

While its traditional rivals have legacy to contend with, the existing cloud providers have no ability to scale to enterprise-level and cater to the needs of multinational corporations, the company claims.

While the financial cloud adoption came later than CRM and HR, it is following the same adoption curve, said Fernandez.

Workday shares leader status with Oracle ERP Cloud and Oracle NetSuite in Gartner's latest Magic Quadrant for cloud-based core financial management applications.

Fernandez said Workday has 2 600 customers worldwide, with the majority using its HCM software and just over 600 of those using its core financial management solution, and close to 37 million users.

"We are able to support companies to be more agile, more flexible, efficient...we are just one piece of that [digital transformation] journey they are doing; supporting them with their core business processes and employee engagement."

Zuko Mdwaba, Workday country manager, South Africa.
Zuko Mdwaba, Workday country manager, South Africa.

Workday inroads

Mdwaba noted there are more than 60 000 users of Workday currently in SA, a number that is expected to double.

Dimension Data had already been a customer when the SA office opened in February 2018, and there are over 300 subsidiaries of global Workday customers with a local presence, including AON and Unilever.

Besides Absa, another new customer ("a large law firm") went live at the beginning of March.

Mdwaba said Absa's decision was part of its digital transformation strategy, and the bank will continue deploying Workday throughout the year, eventually managing all employees via Workday's app-like HCM suite.

Another "tier one financial services company in SA" has been signed on recently, he said, adding the local market, with legacy environments, has been receptive to "a new player that is doing things differently".

"We took inspiration from consumer Internet; it's all about user-friendliness as we enable engagement between employer and employee, and insight into the organisation."

Workday facts

* Workday is a pure-play software-as-a-service company, providing enterprise cloud applications for financial management, HCM and analytics.

* Based in California, it was co-founded in 2005 by the original founders of PeopleSoft.

* Its fiscal 2019 total revenue was $2.82 billion, an increase of 31.7% from fiscal 2018.

* 40% of the Fortune 500 companies are Workday customers.

* It is number two on Forbes' list of Most Innovative Companies, and number seven on Fortune's 100 Best Companies to Work For.

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