SuccessConnect 2014 – The Future of HR

Las Vegas is the largest city in Nevada and is best known for its casinos. One of those casinos, or to be more precise, the conference center at the Mirage Hotel, hosted this year’s SuccessConnect event run by SuccessFactors (an SAP company).


The two-day conference began with a keynote speech entitled ‘The future is in the clouds for HR,’ held by Mike Ettling, President HR Line of Business at SAP, which drew a crowd of close to 2,500 people. You can view this presentation on the SuccessFactors website or on YouTube.

The presentation highlighted trends in the field of HR such as cloud and mobile as well as millennial’s apparently different ideas about the perfect job. However, it was the seemingly small announcements important for the day-to-day business of SuccessFactors customers that were greeted with spontaneous applause:

  • Publication of a roadmap for the SuccessFactors HCM Suite for the upcoming 12 months, which provides more transparency for customers.
  • Consistent documentation of all product innovations available 60 days prior to the release. Functional improvements will be published four times a year (click here for the improvements from August 2014).
  • Early installation of releases on the test instance in order to offer customers a real playground in advance.
  • Around 75 percent of all of the new functions are based on customer feedback. For me, this clearly shows customers the way to find better solutions. Instead of introducing every functional request in the first implementation or implementing with workarounds, it is better to make a start and improve continuously and direct requests to the development department.
    • Click here for more information.

After the keynote speeches, visitors heard presentations on core HR, payroll, learning, performance management, succession planning, compensation and recruiting, and workforce planning and analytics. Some of them are available here. The conference itself has already been analyzed in detail by:

I would like to add to the online reporting with a summary of what I believe are the most important statements and issues:

  • Mike Ettling highlighted the importance of the second S in SaaS (Software-as-a-Service). I believe this to be correct and it is not yet reality at SuccessFactors, particularly in terms of support. Innovations in this area have a direct impact on customer satisfaction.
  • Core HR in the cloud has arrived into companies’ everyday activities much faster than originally thought. SAP massively expanded Employee Central, the cloud-based core HR system from SuccessFactors – 262 enhancements and 124 new features in the first 12 months alone and localizations for 71 countries. Hundreds of customers are proof of its feasibility in day-to-day work.
  • The term ‘contingent workforce’ is becoming increasingly important; however, it still remains hidden in many companies (particularly in the German-speaking region). According to a study conducted by Oxford Economics, 83 percent of managers asked are increasing contingent, intermittent, or consultant employees.
  • Regardless of how well the user experience, mobile apps, or upgrade process (from SuccessFactors) are designed, good software is far from sufficient. In the end, ‘adoption’ determines the success or failure of IT-supported HR work. Here, providers as well as customers still remain significantly behind the opportunities.
  • Dmitri Krakovsky, SVP Cloud HCM Product Management at SAP, confirmed an assumption: The previous focus on mobile apps on tablets, particularly the iPad, is not confirmed by usage data. Above all else, users, and in particular managers, place importance on usability via their smartphones (often iPhones).
  • Managers have the greatest influence on change processes, especially in HR (leadership impact). It is essential to make use of this knowledge.
  • Data security and privacy is an extremely important, but a highly complex specialist issue that HR departments cannot really evaluate. It is not sufficient that HR departments pass off the issue to data security managers in the companylate in the process. Instead, early involvement is necessary in order to provide context.
  • There are still many companies, particularly in the German-speaking region, that view cloud, mobile, and social developments with caution. However, there are also many companies that have already progressed far in these areas. It is these companies that are currently gaining real competitive advantages. Let’s look at an example: Time Warner Cable relies on Recruiting Marketing from SuccessFactors, has over one million registered participants in its talent community, 2.6 percent of applicants have already applied entirely via a mobile phone, having never visited the job page on a desktop or laptop. Job advertisements via Google Ads use IP addresses to optimize the advertisements for regions from which a high number of good applicants came in the past and these candidates were also hired. This significantly reduces recruiting costs and simultaneously increases quality.

“Whatever happens in Vegas stays in… Twitter.”

— Michael Repnik

Summary: The 2014 SuccessConnect in Las Vegas once again confirmed that HR and talent management are trend issues that generate an enormous level of interest. Companies recognize that they need to (radically) break away from established HR processes and change in order to compete at the global level. As an SAP customer, it is obvious to rely on SuccessFactors for these changes. Although still far from perfect, SuccessFactors is already the undisputed market leader. Customers need to be active, proactively provide their requirements, and contribute to shaping the way forward instead of waiting too long.

And … whatever happens in Vegas stays in … Twitter. Search #sconnect on Twitter and read the wide range of opinions on one of the world’s largest HR events.


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