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Workday Learning could light career paths for Millennials

Workday Vice Chair Mike Stankey explains the philosophy behind the company's upcoming learning module, assesses the ERP competition and offers insight about the CFO career path.

Cloud application vendor Workday, based in Pleasanton, Calif., recently announced that it will add Workday Learning,...

a learning management system (LMS), to its suite in 2016.

Vice Chairman Mike Stankey spoke to SearchFinancialApplications about Workday Learning at the Workday Rising user conference in Las Vegas. Stankey was company president and COO until this year and now focuses on market expansion and leadership development.

What was the driver for Workday Learning, and how do you see it fitting into your HCM offering?

Mike Stankey: The first driver [was] customer demand … the second being the changing nature of the workforce.

Mike Stankey

[Senior Vice President] Leighanne [Levensaler] talked this morning in her keynote about the Millennials coming more and more into the workforce. Even though everyone is writing books about how different they are and how entitled they are, what we are finding … is that they're just like you and me. They're hard-working people who want to get ahead and have a great career.

The learning solutions out there today address what people have to know: the certifications, the requirements to do their job. In our interviews with the Millennials -- and other people in the workforce, because we surveyed much more broadly than just one age group -- we learned that everyone is quite happy to fulfill the requirements. They'll do it, [but] they're not enamored with the user experience, and they only go there when directed.

There is a part of learning that they want to do, not just what they have to do, and so we are differentiating our learning product by giving people both.

The want-to-do [learning] is framed by the greater context of who they are at a particular point in their career, with all of the history that they have from their education and the educational attributes of the outcomes that they've already achieved, and looking forward into what they aspire to become.

Can you give examples of what that want-to-do educational materials might look like?

Stankey: A person may want to become a chief financial officer, and as they're going through university, there's a very clear path to becoming an accountant. More than 80% of CFOs start as auditors or [certified public accountants], and they know exactly what they need to do to become a CPA.

But when they come out of that auditing role, there are many paths to become a CFO [and] there are many types of experience that they need. They typically go through planning [and] analysis, they go through the controllership function, they go through treasury, they go through investor relations. And that's not obvious early in their career.

So, they want to go through and understand the different paths and what you need to know, and how they should plan their career to become a chief financial officer.

Where would some of that content come from?

Stankey: The content comes from people's applicant record, if they join us out of university and they have a resume or they have a course record. That's typically imported into Workday as part of the hiring process. If they're a little later in their career, similarly they'll have some kind of professional profile that we'll pull in.

There's a lot of context that you can bring into Workday, regardless of where or how you started your career. We can assign attributes to different jobs. We can assume that if you were an auditor, that most likely you have a CPA [background], and we can prompt people to update that certification.

Then … if jobs come up for a planning analyst in a company, you don't have to post it, which is the old way of doing it, and ask people to discover it or look for jobs. You can set up rules in Workday that say: For the people who have been in their current job for 18 months who are performing at a good level, push them the job that they might be interested in because they have established as a career objective [that] they want to become a CFO.

There are performance management functions in Workday HCM already. Vendors who have the "four pillars" of talent management often try to tie learning to the other components, such as performance management. Do you have thoughts about how that might work?

Stankey: We do, as a matter of fact. There is a lot of flexibility, [so] that you can configure Workday as to how it will treat its relationship with a career management system, with a performance management system, or with a "goaling" system, where you sit down with your manager and establish goals. Some of those goals may be to completely different training courses to get you ready for job content in your current job or to ready you for your next move. It may address performance deficiencies that you might have.

LMSs have a long history -- a lot of it not great -- but they exist, and there's probably a large investment in them, including for compliance education. Aren't there Workday users who already have an LMS? Cornerstone OnDemand, for example is at this conference.

Stankey:  Cornerstone will continue to be a partner, and we'll honor that relationship and integrations.

This will work a lot like recruiting did for Workday a few years ago. We had a good relationship with Taleo … [and] other recruiting providers, and because we didn't have a recruiting system, our customers purchased those. When we introduced our [Workday] Recruiting product, we took the same stance. If you have one, we'll honor the relationship and maintain the integration, but for those of you who want to do recruiting differently, we have another solution.

A very high percentage of our customers are now licensing our recruiting product. They are also choosing this as an opportunity to sunset their current relationships, and as those expire, they'll roll over into Workday Recruiting, and we hope Workday Learning.

Experts, including Gartner, say that, given adequate cloud standards, people will probably go with a multivendor scenario for their enterprise applications. Workday seems to be trying to do more the unified thing and add more of the pieces itself.

Stankey: We really are trying to be unified within the suite, within HR, within financials. We think it makes a lot of sense to have everything from one vendor. However, as you go into the operational applications that serve multiple industries, no one, including Oracle or SAP, has been able to build everything for all industries.

If you take a look at both Oracle and SAP, with the broadest suites of applications, the only applications they have really built internally have been the supply chain applications. When it comes to patient care, retail management, insurance -- those are all acquisitions.

We're simply trying to be practical. We'll pick those industries where we think we can build almost everything -- education would be one of those -- but we are not going to pretend to be able to do everything for everyone. 

I would view Workday Student as a true, wall-to-wall industry solution: HR, financials and all of those operational applications which run a university.

You'll find us hesitant to draw dark lines around our ambitions.
Mike Stankeyvice chairman, Workday

If I take a look at what we're delivering for healthcare, I would say that we have a very complete story for HR, a very complete story for financials, to include the tracking of inventory. But if you look at a healthcare institution, with patient care, patient record, all of those kinds of applications that are vital to them delivering their service, we have not announced anything in that space.

I don't believe that SAP has that either. 

There was a perception early in Workday's life that you were the cloud HR people, and with the addition of these other capabilities, it sounds like you're expanding to be more like the cloud ERP provider. You may be going after more of the business that the big ERP vendors are trying to retain with their own cloud efforts.

Stankey: You'll find us hesitant to draw dark lines around our ambitions. We made the first move into an industry operational system with Workday Student, and that is the key operational application for universities. No important innovation has taken place in that market for more than 20 years and we saw an opportunity to reinvent that space.

We are on the lookout for other opportunities.

Next Steps

Learn about Workday's data-science initiatives

See an overview of Workday HCM tools

Read how Orlando uses Workday financials

Workday becomes top competitor for Oracle

Dig Deeper on HR learning and development software

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