My Perspective on SuccessConnect 2016 Las Vegas

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Jim Newman, President & CEO | HCM Cloud at HRIZONS®

Last week our team attended SuccessConnect 2016 for the 10th year and for the 3rd year as a Gold Sponsor. I still remember my first SuccessConnect in San Mateo, July 2006 with about 400 or so attendees. Now the event hosts 10X that with 4,000 strong!

Not only do we have a larger audience, we have a much more mature customer audience. Customers that have lived through the experience of implementing cloud HCM technologies, SAP SuccessFactors and other competitive products.

Given we try to bring a “fresh” perspective to the table (as you can see in the photo above, our Marketing Team came up with the clever orange sunglasses concept – which was a big hit with our customers, especially at our Customer Appreciation Reception), I thought I’d highlight the key themes I’m seeing from my perspective:HRIZONS TEam

1. Customers have had some success and often times failures on their Journey to the Cloud to date. The common theme: we didn’t have the right implementation partner that really understood our needs and we were too naive to know what we didn’t know and ended up failing or having a sub-par result. Key take-away: do more research to find out which partner has the means, resources, experience, success stories and vision/leadership to truly support an HCM cloud transformation.

2. Software vendors dictating approaches isn’t a fit for all customers. Inherently, I think we all know the easy answer to this: “you mean one size doesn’t fit all?”. Really… any customer that gets sold on the “we have it all figured out” sales pitch needs to be relegated to a none decision maker position. Customers need to be aware that they are unique and different when entertaining embarking on a Journey to the Cloud, and primarily from these perspectives: Culture, Business Drivers, Degree of Change being contemplated, Organizational Readiness, Budget, Resources including Team Experience, Skills, and time-frame. All of these factors should and will influence what approach, scope and ultimately which partner, is the best fit for the customer. The only question is will those factors be identified proactively or re-actively? The former helps drive successful outcomes of course. The latter creates messes that need to be cleaned up. In some cases, it increases unemployment… not joking here folks, HR folks are losing their jobs for failed implementations and/or a lack of results.

3. Customers are seriously beginning to move their core HR to the Cloud! We’re still at the early stages of this next wave but it is picking up momentum. And, from what I can see, HR and IT and partnering to explore how best to accomplish this, which is a very good thing. HR is beginning to realize that with power comes great responsibility (my son loves Spider-man and this is one of his favorite lines) and empowering HR as a line of business, to tackle cloud HCM technology initiatives, comes with it the responsibility to not screw it up. And for that, IT’s expertise with program management, governance, scope management and ultimately, risk mitigation strategies, is an important, if not critical perspective to have when moving to the cloud. As the old HR saying goes, you can introduce new HR programs (e.g. Talent) but don’t screw up payroll, HR operations, compliance or heads will role. Combining HR and IT together, as strategic partners, with Finance at the table too, is a much better strategy to successfully move to the cloud with core HR.

4. And last, customers like choice and flexibility and are now learning about extensibility (e.g. SAP’s Hana Cloud Platform), much like buying apps on your iPhone or Android, except enterprise grade. We can’t forget that and we, as vendors/partners, need to cater to this but also guide customers. For example, we’re experiencing incredible levels of interest in our HRZ® Cloud Apps that extend SAP SuccessFactors, applications that address HCM platform gaps and extend the solution to address customers’ needs. As an example, our award winning JDMS® | Job Descriptions Made Simple application. Customers that have job description pain want to find a solution that not only addresses the pain (think classic HR silo here) but that also integrates within overall HR programs (think integrated HR) and enhances other internal stakeholders’ programs (e.g. Recruiting, Performance, Development, Learning, Compliance, Diversity, etc.) along the way. A real life example of a new pain is a customer that came to us with Recruiting gaps that weren’t going to be addressed by the SuccessFactors Recruiting products’ roadmap. Instead of being disenchanted with the product, we were able to offer them the option to not wait for product management to resolve the gaps, but partner and look for extensible solutions we could provide to meet their specific needs. A new twist to cloud and our array of value-added solutions… application extensions plus services.

To sum it all up, it’s clear to me that the market is evolving and maturing. Customers are clearly seeing the benefits of moving HCM to cloud but are also experiencing challenges. From my vantage point and perspective, now, more than ever, is the time to truly partner with customers, to provide them with options, with the benefit of our experience and perspective, a consultative approach but not just services, solutions that go beyond selling our expertise, but providing solutions to problems with a combination of software, platform extensions and services. Customers want and more importantly need, trusted advisers that have their best interest at heart and customers, should want partners that are in the business of helping customers with the right balance of innovation and practicality. Partners that are in the business of solving customer problems, not selling something that creates new problems and challenges.

To wrap up this article in brief, I couldn’t be more excited about where the HCM tech market is headed. Customers are getting smarter about cloud, cloud technology is evolving and opening up new opportunities for partners to bring solutions to market vs. services only, and our customers’ main need remains a constant: help me so I can help them; in other words, customers want and need a strategic HCM partner that can help them build and run a successful HR function in order to help their organization be more successful with its people programs and strategies to ultimately enable the organization to achieve its vision and execute its mission and take care of its customers/patients/stakeholders.

Jim Newman, CEO at HRIZONS

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