By Gloria Lombardi

“The world is mobile today, we know that. People want to be able to access company information wherever they are – whether they are commuting to the office or on a business trip. Even if they are on vacation they may want to use their device to do some tasks. And mobile is a very critical component to Workday; it provides a platform to simplify processes.”

Karen Minicozzi (pictured right) is the Vice President, HCM Product Strategy, EMEA at Workday, a cloud-based enterprise technology that provides global companies with human capital and financial management systems to drive the business forward.

I spoke with Minicozzi to explore what Workday has to offer to large organisations – from talent insights, to machine learning and powerful real-time analytics this tool competes directly with the like of SAP and Oracle.

Gloria Lombardi: From a communication point of view, what is required by an organisation that wants to deploy Workday?

Karen Minicozzi: If we talk about communication we are really looking at change management – how an organisation rolls out the technology, ensures people buy-in, and monitor if employees are happy to use the tool.

Communications efforts vary depending on the type of transformation that a company is going through – whether they simply try to drive more efficiency or whether they want to engage the workforce.

Generally speaking, the enterprises that go for something close to a complete transformation tend to be supported by one of our large partners. Otherwise, they may work with some smaller boutiques and do their internal communications on their own. In fact, Workday is incredibly simple to use. Customers tell us that they do not have to do heavy any training or put great efforts to understand how to use the system; anyone can put it on their phone and start using it very quickly and easily.

GL: Is Workday a collaborative tool?

KM: Workday is a platform that enables companies to collaborate within HR or financial processes.

Take for example recruiting, which is something that can impact a big number of people across an organisation: the recruiter, the hiring manager, the interviews teams and so forth. Workday gives the ability to collaborate around a job acquisition project so that everyone is aware of what is going on. The recruiter might be asking a question about a candidate to someone in the interviews team and receive instant feedback. So, it is about having that back and forth conversation and dialogue on whatever processes people have been discussing.

GL: What type of analytics does Workday provide?

KM: The Workday system is able to understand who you are within the organisation, what your career path looks like, what your skills are, and who has done what across the entire business. And, it can make personal recommendations as a result of that data such as ‘Here are some jobs that people who have a similar profile to your have taken in the past.’ So, you can explore what you might want to do next.

Our analytics tap into the context of what you are doing. For example, I am a manager with a team of people reporting to me and I am reviewing the annual compensation salary. On Workday I can access the information about all of my direct reports – from how they are performing to how much they are earning. I can then make recommendations based on that insight such as ensuring that I am rewarding my high performers properly. In addition, I can look at a summary report of my people wherever they are located; I can get an overall view of where they are situated in the organisational chart as well as get micro insights into things like compensation by region per single individual. From there, I can start immediately to take action – without having to think about where to go into the system, I move alongside the speed of my own thoughts and the data that I have just gathered.

GL: This seems to suggest to me that an organisation can potentially create tailored learning and development opportunities.

KM: Correct. On Workday you can look at data also from a capability perspective. For example, you can see what skills people have relative to other employees, what abilities they have relative to the job they are doing or to the job they aspire to. Based on that insights, as a manager I can recommend you specific training for example to maybe close gaps or suggest perhaps an original work experience that might help you to aspire to a larger role at some point.

GL: Could you give me an example of an organisation that has used Workday successfully? I am interested in the benefits they gained internally as a consequence of it.

KM: A good example comes from Flextronics. They are a large, global company that provides electronic manufacturing services to a broad number of industries.

Their decision to move to Workday has resulted in simplifying their environment from having 18 HR systems to one. Today, they have a single view of their global workforce, which allows them to standardise global practices and have more consistency across the board.

From a value perspective, Workday has freed up their HR staff that can now pay more attention to strategy as well as growing the workforce. It also gives managers a very accurate and real-time view of their employees. Reports – that before used to take several weeks or a month – get delivered in a few hours and empower managers to make more meaningful decisions. For example, they can analyse global costs structure and shift in the labour force and make recommendations to lower costs accordingly to market needs. Ultimately, to use all that data to drive effective business change.

GL: When we talk about technology a product of course never stops changing. What plans do you have for the future of Workday?

KM: We provide two major, feature-rich updates per year – one innovation every six months – looking all across our product suite, not only in human capital management but also in financial. Our customers can choose when to turn those features on.

When we innovate we think of three main areas: simplicity and operational efficiency, insights, and engagement. From an operational efficiency perspective we look continuously at simplifying and driving down costs of administering the system. We also innovate always with mobile in mind so that customers can easily roll the platform out to their entire workforce.

And, we apply modern technology including machine learning moving from just providing descriptive reports to providing predictive and prescriptive analysis. It is about not just identifying issues but also possible solutions for the business.

GL: Machine learning is actually becoming increasingly important these days. It looks like it is key for future technology. How does Workday actually apply it?

KM: We think about machine learning from a use case perspective. Most of our customers struggle on how to exactly apply big data to HR. So, we came up with use cases that make very simple for them to understand how to use that rich information. For example, we deliver an insight application around retention risks, which looks at all the data over time inside an organisation; it analyses that data using machine learning by surfacing where people, including top performers, might be at risk of leaving the organisation. We are able to go across all the data and understand why some people have left in the past, what attributes those people had and find those patterns in the current workforce.

And, we use that same concept to deliver retention recommendations. Simply put we say, “We have figured out inside your organisation who might be at risk of leaving.’ But also, we are able to say for example, ‘those are jobs that people who are considering to leave might actually consider taking. You might coach them on that new job. That might lower the risk of leaving or increase the probability that they would stay with the company.’

GL: When you speak with large organisations and help them understand Workday, do you primarily deal with HR? Or are internal communicators involved too?

KM: Generally, we speak with HR practitioners as well as executive leadership such us Talent Acquisition leaders. But when we engage with a new company, the steering group almost always include someone from internal communications.

I think internal communications is key with regards to Workday. It is important that they understand what the platform really is, and what we are trying to help their organisation do and achieve. And they help then drive those messages across their workforce so that the tool can be really embraced. In fact, internal communications is a critical component of any technology deployment.


This article originally appeared on simply-communicate