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Former Member

Photo Courtesy of Martin Gillet

I felt compelled to blog about what I experienced at HR2013 while it was fresh on my mind.  I have attended this conference since 2005, and I believe  this was the best one yet in terms of content both in terms of actionable content and as well as the engagement of the attendees.  Kudos to Amy Thistle and the rest of the WIS team!

A few quick points:

  • The headline continues to be the SuccessFactors acquisition and the move to the cloud.  As you'd expect there is a lot of anxiety from clients who have invested heavily in their on premise SAP.  This especially true of those companies with On Premise talent management.   Some of the anxiety is valid as it was clear that the amount of improvements to on premise will be minimal. 
  • For Core HCM the future is a lot brighter.  The user interface enhancements debuted at last year's conference titled "HR Renewal" are now in general availability.  A number of improvements and enhancements were made to the product since ramp-up and improvements are still planned on a quarterly basis.  Customers seem most ready to move on an updated version of HCM Processes and Forms now that the requirement for Adobe has been eliminated.  I anticipate we'll see a lot of HCM Forms projects over the next year.
  • While SAP went to great lengths to say that there would be no forced migrations, it is clear  that SAP intends to position Employee Central as a viable option--even for existing SAP HCM customers.  During David Ludlow's keynote the demo of Employee Central took place before a demo of core HCM improvements , and I don't think this was by accident.  SAP is trying to begin the long "change  management" process necessary to get it's core HCM customers to consider Employee Central.  They know that getting some of their loyal customers to move to Employee Cenral is essential to creating momentum
  • Most people I talked to thought SAP HANA looks interesting but that they want to see what functionality is developed for HCM before they start lobbying their companies to put HANA on their roadmaps.
  • It's clear that the messaging from last year and from the SAP sales team has gotten through to customers as there were a lot of attendees whose organizations are beginning SuccessFactors talent projects.  Even those not starting projects right away seemed to be considering SuccessFactors over the next 2-3 years.  Accordingly, the most heavily attended sessions were either demos of SuccessFactors or those that discussed integration.  Since very few customers are live on the SAP standard integration (especially the PI integration) there are probably more questions than answers in this area.
  • The session at the conference that I think that everyone should have attended was by Prashanth Padmanabhan from SAP who went through several examples of how social and mobile are transforming the way that SAP works internally RIGHT NOW.  Most of the examples involve SAP Jam and its corresponding analytics.  This is one area of HR technology that can transform businesses that the SAP HCM community needs to be championing within their organizaitons.  For those of you not familiar Prashanth's work, you should check out his blog at and follow him on twitter at @@sprabu.
  • Call me biased, but my favorite session at the conference was the panel I was lucky enough to participate in where the future of SAP HCM was discussed.  A group of 6 independent or small-company consultants lead a packed-house discussion of where SAP would be heading in the next 4-5 years.  What made the session unique was that the unsanctioned nature of the discussion allowed for opinions that do not necessarily line up with the SAP company line.  To their credit, the SAP personnel we talked with after the session were very positive in their reception of the discussion. The panelists were Jarret Pazanhick (@sap_jarret) , Martin Gillet(@mgillet), Luke Marson(@lukemarson), Sharon Newton(@sharonnewton), Mark Ingram(@ingramtalent), and myself(@brandontoombs).  The moderator was Steve Bogner(@stevebogner).
  • For those of you that did not attend, I would encourage you to search twitter for hastag #HR2013 to see lots of great tweets about the conference.

For those of you that did attend, I'd love to hear your impressions in the comments below.