A Front Row Seat And Workday DevCon – JOSH BERSIN

This week, I spent a day at Workday’s DevCon, the company’s fast-growing application developer conference, and had a lot to talk about.

Let me start with a simple reminder: for all its strategy, sales, and marketing, Workday is essentially a software company. The Workday platform is an amazing technology, and over the past few years, the company has opened it up as a platform, a set of APIs, and a place for partners and developers to build new things. And this approach has big and significant implications.

A few weeks ago Aneel Bhusri the Co-Founder, Co-CEO and Chairman, commented that in order for Workday to grow to its $ 10 Billion ambition, the company would need partners to develop more vertical applications in platform surface. This week, they launched many of the tools that bring this, so I’ll discuss them here.

Workday APIs

You need to think of Workday as a platform like Google, AWS, or Azure. While most companies think of it as an application, the platform itself has more than 2,000 application programming interfaces (APIs) that allow customers or partners to access data, create and orchestrate transactions, integrate other systems, or develop additional functionality.

The Developer Community and Opportunity

Right now there are approximately 3,500 certified Workday developers in the world and LinkedIn alone shows over 15,000 jobs open. So it’s a hot space and a lot of people are looking for these skills.

Because the system has many proprietary features (like other cloud platforms), developers need to know how these APIs work. So most of the developers I’ve met there have a lot of Workday experience, and the company spends a lot of time educating them, supporting them, and promoting the work they do.

A group of developers from PwC, for example, have developed a full “store management” application that integrates with Workday Financials. Their client, who seems to be a large insurance company, wants to integrate its financial management into the large network of auto repair shops around the world.

As I listened to their discussion, I realized that they were actually making a whole vertical application that deeply integrates with Labor Day. Consider, for example, how an auto repair shop makes an “estimate,” resulting in a “final invoice,” which includes the cost of parts and services, with many parts provided by others. All of these transactional steps result in revenue or costs for the insurance company, so the PwC team has developed a careful integration for each step. What they essentially built was a vertical application for Labor Day.

Wes Fisher, a senior Workday engineer discussed the company’s two -year effort to develop a massive financial application for Asset Market Pricing and Profitability called FTP (Funds Transfer Pricing). Whenever a bank issues a loan or takes a deposit or issues a CD, there are a series of financial transactions that must be accounted for. That bank’s treasury department wants to look at these thousands of assets in the face of various interest rate fluctuations, future scenarios, and market segments. This is a very important application that every bank should use.

Workday makes this system in collaboration with its clients and uses Workday Prism Analytics and Workday Extend for implementation. The engineer showed us the workflows, the application design, and how they work with clients to bring it to market. Once again I move away from the thought that “this is a whole new vertical application for Labor Day,” something that will help the company thrive.

Many corporate developers also talk about their work. SunLife, for example, has created more than ten new applications over Workday and the developer who did most of the work started as a configuration manager. He learned, over several years of hard work, how to code, use, test, and deploy these apps and is now proudly displaying them. They do things like help employees provide their tuition reimbursement, other forms of leave, and things the company does by hand. Over the years, they have moved from query and reporting applications to complex transactional applications built on Labor Day. Each eliminates spreadsheets or other paper processes.

So this opportunity, essentially, is everywhere. Just as you use Excel or PowerPoint to “build” what you need as an individual, you can now use Workday to “build” whatever you need that covers multiple employees or systems in your company.

What’s new

Although I’m not a software engineer (I coded with Fortran, Cobol, and DB2 years ago), I learned a lot about some of the new tools. Here are some of the sessions I attended:

  • The New Workday Graph API -you can now use GraphQL (an open-source query language widely used by many software developers) to sit on top of Workday APIs. This means that almost any software engineer with simple query processing experience can access many of the Workday APIs via GraphQL, an easy to use interface.
  • New User Interface Objects -you can now build Workday apps that publish videos, create graphs (of many kinds), including tables and computational objects (like spreadsheets), cards (the beautiful little boxes that appearing in Workday Journeys and multiple user interfaces), and what we call Workday Hubs (which can range small web pages with menus and tabs up to complex information centers). This will make new Workday apps more interesting and expand them into new areas.
  • Labor Day Orchestra -Workday has a workflow engine designed to create complex workflows, integrate with external systems, create business rules and approvals, create process triggers, and more.
  • Prism Analytics on Labor Day – As I described in the LTM project above, it is a massive data processing platform that can process data, analyze data, and has a highly programmable interface to manage large amounts of rapidly changing data
  • Integrating Adaptive Planning into the Workday -one of the developers developed an application that takes the financial plan in Adaptive Planning (for tuition reimbursement) and lets managers around the company input and edit their tuition estimates. Imagine so many opportunities for automated workforce planning.
  • New integration with UiPath, which opens the door to use RPA (robotic process automation) to automate actions on other systems from Workday Business Processes. This opens the door to new applications for onboarding, transfer, and hundreds of other employee or candidate applications.
  • Workday AppBuilder, an integrated toolset that brings together all the tools in the workday.

Where Is It All Going?

The momentum here is enormous. Now that Workday is used by tens of thousands of companies, the marketplace of internal developers, consulting firms, and application providers is growing. I looked on LinkedIn today and I saw there is now more Workday Developer jobs are open than Oracle Developer positions!

This means, of course, that companies like PwC, Deloitte, Kainos, Alight, Intecrowd, and others are quickly building development businesses on Labor Day. But the big opportunity is within your own company. While you probably have a small group of people configuring and managing your system on Labor Day, you can now hire contractors or start training developers to customize, integrate, and extend the system.

Is it an easy to use experience? I have to say no. If you compare building a Workday Extend application to a project like building a new Microsoft Teams or ServiceNow Journey site, it’s still a much more complex process. The main workday is a highly scalable transactional system, so you need to know what you’re doing.

But over time it will change. This is only the second year of Workday in the “Developer Con” business, so I guess you’ll see thousands more developers here in a year. The company has certainly taken the gospel and is now working hard to make it easier than ever to extend, adapt, and expand your Labor Day investment.

Additional information

Workday Innovation Summit: Lots of Growth

Disrupted the HR Technology Market: The Employee Experience The New Core

The Work Day Goes Anywhere: In the Workflow And Beyond

Workday Learning: Fast-paced

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