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SAP issued the following press release this morning SAP and SuccessFactors Accelerate Unified Product Direction which covered their product direction across core HR, Talent Management, HCM Analytics and Integration and I thought I would outline my initial thoughts on each of the main points.

  • SuccessFactors Employee Central solution is the go-forward core human resources (HR) offering in the cloud. Backed by more than 25 years of experience from SAP in core HR, the solution is poised to grow exponentially as SAP will boldly invest in it. SAP will continue to offer the SAP® ERP Human Capital Management (SAP ERP HCM) solution on premise for core HR, now with regulatory support for 51 countries around the globe and an innovation road map of significant investments in functionality, user-experience, mobile and in-memory technology capabilities in the future. My Take – Pleasantly surprised as it appears that SAP is going to build out Employee Central and finally have a large enterprise cloud offering to compete with Workday and other cloud based competitors. When you hear “bold investment” I equate that to a major commitment and it will be important to get clarity on the timelines on when customers can expect enhanced functionality. My understanding in talking with industry analysts is that Employee Central has about 100 customers though needs to be built out further to support larger customers. In addition for SAP to truly have a full HCM cloud solution they will have to build out or partner in areas such as Payroll, Time Management and Benefits.

  • For talent management, SuccessFactors Performance Management, SuccessFactors Compensation Management, SuccessFactors Recruiting and SuccessFactors Learning Management with social learning from SuccessFactors Jam will be the go-forward solutions. Talent management components from SAP ERP HCM will be continued with selected innovations for the next decade. My Take – Pleasantly surprised and commend SAP for providing clarity that the SuccessFactors solutions will be the “go-forward solutions” as I believe that is the right course of action. The On-premise talent management solutions such as Performance Management, Enterprise Compensation Management (ECM), eRecruiting and Learning (LSO) will  continue with “selected innovations" which makes it obvious the investments and innovation in these areas will be minimal. It is important to note that each of these has had a lot of new functionality released in enhancement packages (EHP1 -EHP6) and are very solid offerings.

  • Analytics will continue as an important focus area within both SAP ERP HCM and the SuccessFactors product portfolios, leveraging significant assets such as SuccessFactors Workforce Analytics, SuccessFactors Workforce Planning, the SAP HANA™ platform and solutions from the SAP® BusinessObjects™ portfolio. People analytics will be revolutionized by putting SuccessFactors Workforce Analytics on SAP HANA. Together SAP and SuccessFactors can make unparalleled aggregate HR benchmark insights available in the cloud to hundreds of thousands of customers. The combination of SuccessFactors software and SAP HANA is one of the key priority areas for development of the BizX Suite, as it will help increase customer value by dramatically speeding existing processes, enabling access to large amounts of data in shorter periods of time and providing real-time access to information tailored to individual requirements. My Take – It is no surprise to see that SAP plans to focus on getting the BizX Suite up and running on HANA especially given the announced plan that the Business Suite will be available to run on HANA by the end of 2012. I will need to get a little more clarity on what the marketing jargon “unparalleled aggregate HR benchmark insights available in the cloud ” really means as it is a important area for customers.

  • SuccessFactors will continue to support an open approach to connecting with third-party solution providers. Approximately fourteen percent of SuccessFactors customers currently run their systems side-by-side with SAP. In addition to providing enhanced value for joint customers, SAP and SuccessFactors will accelerate the development of integration solutions with third-party solution providers. For SAP customers, the two companies intend to deliver integration packages between the two offerings: Cloud-based talent, core HR, recruiting, learning and social solutions, and workforce planning and analytics solutions from SuccessFactors; and On-premise core HR from SAP. My Take – As expected SAP will deliver integration from SAP On-Premise to Successfactors and in talking with customers this is one of the most important items and will be a significant undertaking. On a side note it will be interesting to see the direction that is taken with "social soultons" meaning will Jam be integrated with On-Premise and if so what does that mean for StreamWork in context of HCM as it was on the roadmap to be incorporated in certain areas.

Overall I am impressed as it appears some tough decisions were made especially in some of the areas where there was product overlap between SAP and SuccessFactors. I would have expected to see clarity on Career OnDemand as well as some reference to mobility given that it is one of SAP’s core 4 areas of focus but it is not the first time communication has lagged on the mobility side. The bottom line is I think it is a great start given the deal was only made official last week. I would expect SAP to provide customers a more detailed roadmap and timeline at the latest by Sapphire and if you want to stay current on information I would recommend joining the new SAP and SuccessFactors Linkedin Group. One of my favorite quotes is by Walt Disney “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing” and many people will be watching to see how quickly SAP can deliver on their promised roadmap.

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