Jeremy Masters

Author, speaker, and HR technology expert

Thoughts from HR2013


Hi gang,

Just back from a great conference held by the SAPInsider team from Wellesley Information Services. Like past years, this year was great. Here are some of my takeaways, impressions, and lasting thoughts while still fresh in the brain:

  1. The messaging was clearer, but the sales pitch needs to go. The good news from the conference was that SAP and SuccessFactors did a much better job at the positioning of the strategy/roadmap than last year. I thought David Ludlow did a nice job with the message delivery at the keynote. Outside of the keynote, the sessions largely had the same quality and diversity in previous years (great job to SAPInsider, Riz, and Amy Thistle). My session on mobility really resonated with the audience, as did many important subjects on integration and HANA. The only downer for me was that there was selling in some of the vendor-led presentations. This is a customer-driven event and it should focus on ‘how-tos’, case studies, and best practices. Let’s focus on describing the options for our customers and how we can help drive successful deployments.
  2. Impressed with access to SAP and SuccessFactors staff. This year more than any other we had more SAP/SuccessFactors representation at the conference. Also, some SAP folks were available on Twitter throughout the conference, such as @watchthewave and  @brianclendenin which enabled us to clarify some items right then during the conference. For example, I had a question around Plateau’s performance management offering that was clarified by a SuccessFactors VP in about 1 hour. I learned first hand how powerful social can be, especially in a conference setting.
  3. Innovation around HR Renewal and deployment challenges. Like others, I saw some cool things around HR Renewal, but am concerned around how quickly it can be adopted by the bulk of customers. First , it does require the customer to be at a certain version/patch: SAP ERP 6.0,  Enhancement Package 6 on with SP Stack 03. What’s difficult here is that we have alot of things being thrown in front of customers from an ESS/MSS perspective: there was the conversion to Web Dynpro ABAP (which is now complete, as of EhP6), then there was CORBU, then HR Renewal for the HR Business Partner, then an extension of this for ESS and MSS. Also, throw in the mix of SAP Portal versus NetWeaver Business Client (NWBC). For those customers who are a SharePoint shop, NWBC is a consideration (to be consumed in a web part), but the challenge now is that SAP Portal is pretty well entrenched in SAP customers and it’s hard to rip that out at this point. When surveyed at my ESS/MSS customer session, about 80-90% were using the SAP Portal. Net new clients might be a different story. So we need to guide our customers in this hazy area. [As a side note, I was disappointed with the demo during the keynote, as it appeared slow (due to connectivity issues). At one point, the screen went blank. Also, the Employee Central demo appeared a bit slow during the keynote, and it was given shorter airtime (not sure why?).
  4. Some thoughts around functionality offerings of SAP/SuccessFactors:
    1. Jobs2Web adds huge capability for the Recruiting solution from a social (SocialMatcher) and candidate User experience perspective. However, the recruiter functionality (original SuccessFactors Recruiting) needs improvement, which I hope is an area of innovation for SAP/SuccessFactors.
    2. Performance management (and goals) continues to be a strong and compelling offering. I’m not sold on the use case of the new goals app for my iPhone, but the offering in sum is functionality rich.
    3. Qualifications management is a key issue needing a solution. Since many customers maintain a qualifications catalog within their core HR system, and since the go forward solution is SuccessFactors, there needs to be a well-thought out plan to sync this within a hybrid environment.
    4. I believe the SAP on premise Enterprise Compensation Management (ECM) and SuccessFactors comp/variable pay are comparable in terms of functionality. I heard from several customers who will stay on premise with compensation since their variable pay calculations/business process need special attention.  Those that have SAP Payroll on premise, I also see value in coupling the comp with the payroll.
    5. We need more clarity in the Workforce Analytics and HANA areas. From the information I gathered, and from the customers I met with, there is still alot of confusion around the strategy on premise v. cloud, around these two items.  I suspect we will hear more about these items during SAPPHIRE in May.
    6. Employee Central needs to grapple with the concurrent/ global employment use case since it currently cannot handle multiple contracts. Again, an area SAP/SuccessFactors needs to invest in.
    7. Time management was largely absent during the sessions and throughout the conference.
    8. Cloud Payroll was mentioned at a very high level. When will we hear more about this?

Next stop is the 2013 SAPPHIRE/ASUG conference. Hope to see all my friends there, and learn more!

Please follow me on Twitter at @jeremymasters

Author: Jeremy Masters

Jeremy Masters is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Worklogix, a management and technology services firm specializing in enterprise application development and implementation support for HCM solutions. For 18 years, he has worked with the latest Talent Management and Self Service functionality within the SAP HCM suite and SuccessFactors, including Performance Management, Enterprise Compensation Management, ESS/MSS, Succession Planning, and E-Recruiting. He regularly presents at SAP Insider events and is the co-author of the following SAP PRESS books: Implementing Employee and Manager Self Services in SAP ERP HCM, SAP ERP HCM Performance Management, Enterprise Compensation Management in SAP ERP HCM, E-Recruiting with SAP ERP HCM, SAP ERP HCM Infotypes and SAP ERP Self-Service: Employee, Manager, and HR Renewal.


  1. Great article. Good to know on premise is going to be around and with new functionalities . Seen some large SI moving many sap hcm consultants in large numbers to SF Or WOrkday practices

  2. Hi Jeremy,

    Great summary and great points on SuccessFactors. The conference was great and while we still have a lot of unanswered questions, I think we are seeing SAP get more and more engaged in informing the community about their going’s on. I think next year will be extremely informative as the market, products, and strategy evolves further.

    On another note, I heard your mobility session was excellent and wished I could’ve made it. My biggest bugbear at the conference is the number of great session running simultaneously, making it easy to miss a great session. I know better for next time 😉

    Best regards,


  3. Hello Jeremy,
    Thanks for the summary. I wasn’t able to attend this year and was looking for a good short guide to tell me how the show went. Happy to see there was a lot of value.
    Sorry I missed you. Heard you did a great presentation.
    Till next time.

    • Johnny, too bad you were not able to come. The great part of this conference is seeing old friends like yourself. Hope to see you in SAPPHIRE or another conference real soon.

  4. Very good summary, Jeremy. Thank you for sharing, as you raised some valid points. SAP is a wonderful product and the company did a great job promoting their latest releases and the SuccessFactors acquisition at the HR2013 conference. But it’s important for customers not to get caught up in all the hype. Whether it’s SuccessFactors, HR Renewal, CORBU, etc. each company has to do the research and decide what’s in their best interests to implement and when. I hope everyone used the last few days (post-conference) to de-compress, and look at things with a rational and analytic mindset. Speaking for my company we’re not going to seriously look at SuccessFactors right now, as we already have an extensive HCM project list which was prioritized and agreed-upon late last year. Besides, sometimes it’s best to let others work through the SAP implementation challenges first, to better learn about the hiccups involved once we’re ready.

  5. Thank you for the informative summary, Jeremy. I appreciate your objective view on the whole SF + Hana status!

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