Workday will PaaS up the opportunity to open its platform to third parties

HR and finance cloud vendor focuses on its own apps

Workday, the cloud-based Human Capital Management (HMC) and financial application company, is soft-peddling on the prospect of opening up its platform to third-party vendors.

In October 2017, at the company's "Rising" conference, founder and CEO Aneel Bhusri said that the PaaS would debut in early 2018. It would "become a significant revenue stream" and represents an important evolution "from an apps company to more of a platform company," he said at the time.

Fast forward two-and-a-half years and the company has changed its tune. In an interview with The Register this week, CTO Jens Krueger, said while customers could build their own apps on the Workday Cloud Platform, there were no plans to open it up to third-party developers and launch a mass-market service in the same way Salesforce.com had done with its Force.com platform.

"We have a couple of customers in place, and we have released it for general availability. We were cautious because, essentially, we didn't want to implement another Force.com. It is something that has to uniquely add value to our customers that run HCM or finance," he said.

The platform would be available if the customer has a need to build an app for a specific use case. For example, if a customer allowed employees to bring their dogs to work, but required them to register the animal, they could build a specific app for that particular problem.

"It is something you would not deliver as standard in the platform, and that you would need to build and as an extension," he said.

But for most customers, it is better to strive for best-practice processes, which can be configured within WorkDay HCM and finance application without the need for additional apps or coding. "Look at the customer base we have today, and we give them the best in class processes for by HCM and they can configure the hell out of it," he claimed.

"If you really want to code something, do it with caution. From my consulting days, I know that whenever an implementation project runs out of time or out of budget it's because someone started recording," he said.

Research firm Apps Run the World has WorkDay pegged second in the market for HCM software, behind SAP's SuccessFactors, but ahead of Oracle and Microsoft.

Krueger said Workday's strength is that it was built on a cloud-based in-memory graph database from the ground up. As graph databases are designed to analyse networks of relationships, they were ideally suited to managing organisational structure, he said. Because transaction, analytics, and planning take place on the same data set, companies can reconfigure their roles and reporting on the fly and have changes to accounting and responsibilities flow through the system without the need for further manual changes.

Workday counts Amazon, Netflix, and Rolls-Royce among its customers. In November last year, it inked an agreement to acquire online procurement platform Scout RFP for $540m to create more capability in spend management and procurement.

Krueger said Workday is still developing a fully integrated system using the Scout RFP technology, with a single security model and user experience, but has no plans to announce it this year.

Workday may seem to be taking a cautious approach to product development, but its customers don't seem to mind. In February, it published results for its Q4 2020 ended January 31 [PDF] which boasted revenue of $976.3m, up 23 per cent from a year earlier. ®

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