SAP & SFSF - Beyond the Spin
After the bombshell from SAP over the weekend there have been a flurry of blog posts and news reports analyzing the message and the meaning of the SuccessFactors acquisition (mine included).
Any deal like this is going to draw critics and fans a like, but once all the hype fades to the background, it is traction with the client base that will make all the difference.
Here are a few thoughts on why this might be good for the customer:
I am not extremely familiar with all that SAP has under the hood, but I do know one thing. From a functionality perspective, SAP HR is as robust as their other business applications. You can pretty much handle any level of complexity from hierarchical and matrix org structures to splitting an employee's cost over several cost centers in multiple currencies.
But the user interface.... well... you know what I'm thinking.
This problem is not limited to SAP, all of the other legacy, on premise HRMS products have clumsy and ancient UI's - but I think SAP's has historically been on the bottom end of the range.
One of the biggest challenges companies face with SAP HR is user adoption, and there is a tendency to funnel all system interaction to a few people in an HR service center, rather than pushing out self service to all managers and employees.
On the other hand SFSF's Employee Central is designed to be as easy to use as Facebook. The UI is clean, streamlined, has workflow, and looks great on an iPhone. It is designed with self service in mind. It may not be able to handle the complex data structures like SAP, but if your users don't use it, does that really matter?
To make SAP's HR interface look anything like SFSF Employee Central would require implementing a self service portal, new hardware, and maybe even a separate dedicated server to launch the Sybase mobile apps.
I think an SAP customer would be very interested in the possibilities of using Employee Central as the Self- Service engine of SAP HR. A solution that would not require the installation of anything, just a simple integration to the cloud. And while integrations are never really simple, having both products supported by the same vendor brings a sense of comfort that it won't fall apart due to a new release, or an acquisition by a competitor.
We probably won't know exactly what their plans are regarding Employee Central for quite a while, but my vote would be to extend the innovation of SFSF and offer a system of engagement on top of the system of record.