Top 3 Themes from SuccessConnect 2017

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SuccessConnect2017Good looking team! Kudos to all your hard work… it was a busy show and there’s no other way to describe it – you all kicked ass!

Before we get into the themes I identified, we first have to talk about the late August Las Vegas heat don’t we?! 108 degrees Fahrenheit, maybe more impressive, mid 90’s by 7:00 am. When I first arrived and stepped out from the baggage claim area to find my Uber driver I had to make sure someone didn’t place a hair dryer directly in front of my face because I couldn’t possibly be breathing in air that hot, could I? It took as few minutes but I acclimatized and was able to focus on something other than breathe in, breathe out.

Interesting to note, our driver back to the airport was commenting on the extra humidity in the air this time of year. I turned and looked at him with a weird look on my face and all I could muster was, really? After going through at least 4 of those small hotel lotion containers, a bottle of eye drops and drinking gallons of water this week, this was anything but arid desert dry air from my perspective, but I live in Minnesota, so it’s all relative I guess.

Reflecting on this year’s SuccessConnect, the largest ever (3,500 strong) and completely sold out, a few key themes came to mind:

1.      Maturity – the SuccessFactors customer base continues to mature just as SAP’s technology strategy and its platforms are maturing.

Of particular note, customers are more open and receptive to partnering for value-added offerings. For example, at HRIZONS, we are seeing just as much interest in our consulting services (HRZ®STRATEGY) and post go-live services (HRZ®EVOLUTION) as we are in our implementation services (HRZ®EXECUTION), which we’ve been delivering for 11 years. Why? It is clear customers are not only implementing products but they’re looking for the right cloud adoption strategy, to optimize and evolve previously deployed products, and improve the way they’re delivering HR services and programs in their organizations. They’ve had both good and bad experiences deploying technology and they’re more aware than ever of what they need and the importance of good partners.

2.      Technical Savvy – the transformation from on-premise to SaaS has been a major paradigm shift for SAP customers, possibly more so for IT than HR, frankly speaking.

But that’s becoming the past because it’s pretty difficult to argue with the future of HCM technology being cloud computing and from my perspective, the move to Cloud is just a matter of time (when vs. if) and will be the defacto standard for enterprise/HCM technology consumption. The last decade has clearly made the case for SaaS based applications, however HR and even SAP SuccessFactors field (Sales, Customer Executives, etc.) are just now trying to better understand the benefits of PaaS (platform-as-a-service) such as SAP Cloud Platform, AWS or Azure, and its clearly been a challenge to understand and appreciate unless you’re very close to this technology on a day-to-day basis irrespective of the efforts to date to market and educate customers.

Despite these challenges, I was somewhat surprised and excited to see the progress customers are making with their understanding, possibly more so, their interest and ability to grasp the value proposition for PaaS, and the application extensions that are being developed for SuccessFactors, powered by SAP Cloud Platform. At HRIZONS, we’ve embraced the opportunity to transform our business from a Services only business to a Services and Products company, simply stated, an HR Cloud Technology Company.

In addition to the services I referenced earlier we’re helping customers get control of job description management with JDMS® | Job Descriptions Made Simple, we’re helping organizations drive organization wide performance and accountability with PAD™ | Performance Accountability Dashboard, which integrates to SuccessFactors Performance & Goals, and we’re helping customers visualize the HR data collected in SuccessFactors (and other HR technologies) to gain insight and take action on workforce compliance, development, program improvements and organizational effectiveness using OrgInsight™ | Visualize Your Workforce.

These three products were developed for SAP SuccessFactors customers and form our portfolio of products, HRZ® CLOUD APPS. One of the most rewarding experiences of the event for me personally was to see our existing customers evangelize the value being derived from our products and to see future customers clearly understanding the value they will derive from these products as they continue their journey to the cloud with SAP technologies.

3.      Innovation – I was both impressed and humbled by the innovation I’m seeing in the eco-system.

Part of me wishes I were still an HR practitioner because deploying the incredible technologies available and having access to the number of seasoned partners in this eco-system is exciting and comforting, or at least it should be, for customers and prospects exploring SAP SuccessFactors and SAP Cloud Platform. It’s clear that the eco-system is not only maturing, but embracing innovation and investment, which is great for customers! For example, I was really impressed with the innovative products beginning to get traction. It certainly is keeping us on our toes as we strive to continually innovate our products and services. And, isn’t that what it’s all about?

Technological advances and competition drives product innovation and strategic partnerships to bring new value to customers. While not all of these ideas and ventures will be successful, many will and that helps HCM customers, enabling them to improve their organizations, which enables employees to be more engaged, productive and lead better and richer lives. And, ultimately, this should help us all make our world a better place to live in.

On a final note, I was especially touched and proud to see SAP lead by example with a matching contributions challenge for victims of Hurricane Harvey and the incredible rebuilding effort that will follow. I’m pleased to say HRIZONS rallied to the call and made a company donation to help those in need in Houston and other affected areas. I encourage the eco-system to do the same!

On an altruistic note, my belief is that those of us privileged enough to be working in this industry need to live and work with purpose beyond profit, and what better purpose is there than helping those in need when we’re in a position to help. As employees, consumers, business owners and partners, it’s incumbent upon us to realize the critical role we all play, the impact we can have, and take the big picture into consideration while we focus on driving our organizations forward to be bigger, better and stronger. To be good corporate citizens and good stewards of the planet, it’s incumbent upon us to do good while we are fortunate enough to do so, to showcase what capitalism + technology can do when we aren’t driven solely by profit and the all mighty dollar, but value creation and goodwill towards others. I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s a hell of a lot more rewarding!

Let’s go back to our families, our companies, our communities, and continue to make a difference by making this world run just a little bit better by making organizations run a little bit better, with engaged and purpose driven employees.

To all our customers, partners and friends, I can’t wait to see you again. Until next year!

Best, Jim
Jim Newman, President & CEO, HRIZONS

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With nearly 20 years of strategic human resources, talent management and HCM technology consulting experience, Jim founded HRIZONS to help clients realize their human capital potential. He is the thought leader behind the HRZ® lines of business and is a certified SuccessFactors consultant (Align & Perform and Talent Management).