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Users at Workday Rising learn of HR modeling plans

The Adaptive Insights acquisition gives Workday the ability to combine HR and financial data into one model. The integration may require outside assistance now, but will improve in time.

LAS VEGAS -- Workday is making fast use of its recent $1.55 billion acquisition of Adaptive Insights by giving this tool the ability to combine HR and financial data into one model. This new feature, available now, was announced at the Workday Rising conference on Tuesday.

Adaptive makes a corporate performance management system for budgeting, forecasting and planning. Workday is adding workforce data to the financial platform, which means users can create models that couple analytics with budgeting.

But Workday's plan to ease data integration between the two platforms is a work in progress. Initially, users may need the help of external professional services to take advantage of the workforce-planning functionality on the Adaptive Insights Business Planning Cloud. Workday intends to release tools and make improvements in data integration processes that will eventually eliminate the need for outside assistance.

In an interview at Workday Rising, Bhaskar Himatsingka, chief product officer at Adaptive Insights, based in Palo Alto, Calif., summed up the improvement path this way: Workday is moving from an integration that requires a "professional services lead" to "professional services assist" to "no professional services at all." The ultimate plan is to make the data integration "something that business users or business analysts can do themselves," Himatsingka said.

There are some 12,000 people at the Workday Rising conference, and the Adaptive Insights acquisition was an important topic for users here, such as Louis Gaudet, an IT project manager at SNC-Lavalin, an engineering firm based in Montreal. At SNC-Lavalin, IT has the responsibility of delivering Workday to HR, he said.

The idea of combining HR data with financial data in modeling may result in more efficient projections, Gaudet said. "Whether a model itself can accurately predict the outcome or the future remains to be seen," he added.

Finance, HR integration details are needed

Whether a model itself can accurately predict the outcome or the future remains to be seen.
Louis GaudetIT project manager, SNC-Lavalin

Bill Hudson, associate CIO of John Muir Health, a healthcare services provider in Concord, Calif., expressed interest in the Adaptive Insights capability, but said he needs more details about the integration of HR and financial data. He said he wants to be certain he makes any move to Adaptive Insights at the right time.

An integrated planning tool "will be huge for us," Hudson said in an interview at Workday Rising. However, "it's going to be important that it's a smooth transition."

In March, around the time of its planned version 32 release, Workday will deliver a native adapter that will help ease some of this data migration from Workday to Adaptive Insights and reduce the need for professional services, Himatsingka said.

Over subsequent Workday version releases 33 and 34, Workday will continue to improve the integration of the Adaptive Insights and Workday platforms. The vendor releases new versions in March and September each year. Version 31 was announced last month.

Data integration will simplify in time

With HR and financial integration, Workday customers will be able to take workforce planning, product development, geography planning and budget data projections and create multidimensional models. This approach could help companies understand, for instance, the expected growth by region, as well as the skills a firm needs to fill certain roles and product lines, and couple that with a budget analysis.

Workday doesn't believe a data integration path will create a reason for customers to delay using Adaptive Insights for workforce planning.

About 10% of Workday's customers were using the Adaptive Insights platform prior to the acquisition, and some of its users were already running workforce analysis on it. This has given Workday experience with both platforms, as well as the professional services expertise to quickly accomplish the data integration, Himatsingka said.

"I see no reason for anybody to wait for the 'native adapter,' because I genuinely believe the cost of implementing will be [small] compared to the value that they'll get," he said.

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