Jeremy Masters

Author, speaker, and HR technology expert

SuccessFactors Talent Management Seminar 2013 Wrap Up


Over the past 5 weeks, several industry colleagues and I have traveled in the US (Las Vegas and Orlando) and Europe (Copenhagen) meeting with over 50 customers from over 20 countries for a seminar on SuccessFactors’ Talent Management.

SuccessFactors Seminar

The below list is in no particular order but reflects some important themes, questions, and comments:

Integration is still a main concern.  Integration has always been central to SAP’s value proposition. The recent focus on cloud cannot derail this.  I was fortunate to spend these sessions with fellow speakers from SAP. From the messaging and interactions with them, I can confirm that SAP / SuccessFactors is committed to continued investment in integration (they term them “iFlows”).  This is a very good thing for customers, to ease the transition for using cloud technologies where practical. Prashanth Padmanabhan, SAP’s Senior Director, has written a recent blog on the topics for talent hybrid and full cloud integrations. Revisiting my list of concerns from nearly two years ago,many of these items are being addressed. (That blog post alone has gathered over 3,000 unique page views since June 2012).

Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) will be the differentiator.  Like other functional areas, the HANA Cloud Platform will be a critical piece for HCM to make the suite competitive in a very competitive cloud space (Workday, Oracle Fusion, Infor).  The HANA Cloud Development environment is key to SAP’s eco-system. Worklogix is actively developing applications and excited about the opportunities here with the future HANA marketplace (think Apple’s App Store but for SAP).

In my opnion, HANA (as a database) is a distraction to HCM customers. Yes, SuccessFactors would like to dump its Oracle databases (and soon will), but we need to focus on the platform HANA so that customers and partners can develop apps on. This has been articulated by Vishal and Hasso as well, but hasn’t reached most customers yet.  My hope is that this eco-system ramps up like has done.

Speaker Team for Las Vegas and Orlando

Speaker Team in Las Vegas and Orlando

Can we crack the User Experience nut?  Most hybrid customers have two (if not three or four) portals by the time they implement SuccessFactors. How will we truly make the user experience seamless? This is an area I have a lot passion in, as I have worked with employee, manager and HR self service since 1998 when I was a wee lad at Price Waterhouse.  We cannot be in the business of building and supporting “Frankenstein” portals (my term). However, the reality is that we need to support customers with their own internal realities. (For example, many customers will have to make sense of how their intranet, SharePoint, NetWeaver, and SuccessFactors sites/portals all come together).  This isn’t new but is becoming a pervasive issue as we venture into hybrid customers adding SuccessFactors into the mix. Putting simple (and single) sign on aside, we still need to team together to figure out how this all will be transparent to the end user.

Access control (security authorizations) is a major pain point for hybrid customers. Since authorizations won’t (and can’t) magically port over from SAP to SuccessFactors (or vice versa), we need to put this at the top of our list during design sessions. Especially with customers using complex structural authorizations (including context-sensitive structural authorizations). This will be – GULP – a big area for SIs and customers to work out together.

Mobility, mobility, mobility! Should I say it again: mobility! I don’t need to mention how important this area is for SAP HCM / SuccessFactors in order to keep up with customer demand as well as the competition’s offerings. How to offer one customer-facing (i.e., employee-facing) mobile app (or apps?) will be a challenge, and will be huge over the next 5 years.  If/when SuccessFactors will go device-agnostic (e.g., HTML5) is to be determined. (Secondary question: how does SAP Fiori come into play here – if it even does?). Mobility is another passion of mine, and one that I will speak on during next year’s HR2014 conference. Here are the session details.

Speaker Team in Copenhagen

Speaker Team in Copenhagen

Proxy functionality needs to be killer. In fact, I will call proxy (or delegation) management the third (or fourth?) killer app (this is self-proclaimed, but where can I copyright this???). SuccessFactors has done a nice job with proxy management. You can both manage proxy assignments, as well as use the proxy functionality easily within the tool. Compared to SAP HCM functionality, customers will be enthused.  On premise SAP HCM has always struggled with transactional and approval authorization (in part why Worklogix built the Proxy Manager product).

Social collaboration is great, but its benefits are not yet well understood. SAP Jam is a great tool (we use it internally, during our SuccessFactors trainings, as well as to share knowledge within the SAP/ SuccessFactors eco-system), but many customers don’t understand its context in the (corporate) world.  They ask: “Why do I need a LinkedIn / Facebook for the enterprise if I have access to LinkedIn and Facebook?” We need to evangelize on the importance and power of team collaboration, especially with video at our disposal. (Can you imagine what the internet would be without YouTube, Vimeo, SlideShare, MOOCs, Khan Academy?). SAP has a huge asset with Sameer Patel who I think is doing a great job in this area. You should follow him on Twitter you are not already: @SameerPatel

Being clear with messaging around on premise and cloud innovation will be important for SAP/SuccessFactors.  We need to be clear with customers that there is HCM innovation happening in both SAP’s on premise (e.g., SAP Fiori and HR Renewal) and cloud offerings (SuccessFactors, HCP, Jam). This is a good thing for customers, as they move to cloud at their own pace but are still looking for continuous improvement with their current HRIS investment.  We know where massive innovation is happening, but we do need to remember that some customers will either never have an option to go to the cloud, or won’t have the opportunity to get there sooner than they wish.

I want to thank SAPInsider for supporting my idea back in February 2013 for this SuccessFactors seminar. It was a huge success and, as always, the events in all three cities were interactive, engaging, and educational for all involved.

Please follow me on Twitter @jeremymasters

Until next time!


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. Good write-up Jeremy and nice focus on customer challenges and benefits.

    Would you say the integration challenges are more US or Europe-centric, or a mix of both? I speak to lots of Employee Central customers who don’t see integration as a challenge, so I wonder what differentiates this from the Talent customers. Did you get much understanding into this from customers?

    You’re spot on about HANA Cloud Platform, although it won’t play much of a role in Talent for a year or so yet. That said, the potential is huge for when it finally does.

    The theme seems to be that previous implementations are the what give the biggest challenges. Complex data models and portals mean much more complex integration. Many customers would be better going Full Cloud than Hybrid Cloud, but many won’t commit to that right now.

    • Hi Luke,
      With regards to integration, it was something we heard throughout the seminar series. I think this was because the focus of the seminar was around deploying and delivering talent hybrid solutions which affects SAP HCM customers whose HR core will remain on premise (at least for the short term).
      Thanks for your comments.

  2. Great article Jeremy… what % of current customers that you work with today are moving 100% to the cloud?

  3. Hi Jeremy,

    Thanks for the overview. I am always very keen to follow the thoughts/opions of other parts of the world. The seminars sound like a success and would be great to get something similar in Australia.

    I have heard similar thoughts from my user group in Australia. Integration, security and self service are key areas of discussion. A lot of customers have invested heavily in ERP, so going to a full cloud solution is a stretch for many at present, especially if they have other modules in play such as FI, PM, etc.

    Mobility I would see as a nice to have for many HR businesses here, it is cherry on top, as opposed to a priority.

    Looking forward to continiuning the journey.



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