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SAP SuccessFactors HXM targets changing workforce

At the SuccessConnect conference, SAP SuccessFactors focused on the changing world of work and how companies can manage more dynamic workforces, with new modules for HXM Suite.

The working world has changed considerably in the past two years, and HR technology systems need to keep up with the changes.

To meet the new demands of the evolving workforce, SAP SuccessFactors unveiled new modules for its Human Experience Management (HXM) Suite at the company's SuccessConnect conference held this week in Las Vegas.

SAP SuccessFactors HXM Suite is the new iteration of SuccessFactors Human Capital Management Suite. It's meant to help manage the employee lifecycle -- including recruiting, onboarding, payroll and performance management -- and optimize the employee experience.

The modules in SAP SuccessFactors HXM Suite use data and technologies like machine learning and AI to help organizations better understand their employees' full capabilities and aspirations and then align these to organizational needs.

The idea is to make sure that workers are invested in their careers, have the proper skills and can be moved into to the right roles within the organization, said Meg Bear, SAP SuccessFactors president and chief product officer, at the event's keynote address.

"Things are hard now. Life is changing, work is changing, business is changing, [and HR] is changing. And the impact that HR has on the business has never been more urgent or important," Bear said to attendees. "Career paths have changed, and today's journeys are more dynamic and demanding for what the business needs."

Focus on the whole self

One key to addressing the future workforce is utilizing the "whole-self model," said Aaron Green, chief marketing and solutions officer at SAP SuccessFactors, during the keynote.

"The whole-self model looks at a person's skills, preferences, strengths, work style, passions and aspirations, which evolve over time as people go through career and life changes," Green said. "Understanding an employee's whole-self model helps organizations to holistically understand people as they grow in their careers and lives, and matches them with opportunities that fit their interests and aspirations."

To meet modern workforce requirements, SAP SuccessFactors HXM will include several new modules, which were demonstrated at SuccessConnect by Amy Wilson, senior vice president of product and design at SuccessFactors.

The new modules are currently in beta and will be available by the end of 2022.

The new modules include the following:

  • Dynamic teams, which help companies manage organizational structures that are moving from hierarchical structures to flat, cross-functional teams.
  • Growth portfolio, which is a dynamic library of employee attributes using an open and adaptable architecture that reflects the whole-self model and lets employees showcase their skills, styles, preferences and ambitions.
  • Skills ontology, which uses machine learning and automation to continuously identify an employee's skills based on their role, responsibilities, experiences and accomplishments.

SuccessFactors has also partnered with SAP technology teams to integrate SuccessFactors HXM with SAP applications like SAP Ariba as well as third-party applications from Qualtrics through the SuccessFactors Work Zone digital workspace, according to Wilson.

Additionally, in January 2023, the low-code, no-code development environment SAP AppGyver will be integrated into SuccessFactors Work Zone, allowing users to build or modify experiences quickly and easily, Wilson said.

Significant new capabilities

The new capabilities in SuccessFactors HXM are the most significant developments that SuccessFactors has had in the last decade, according to HR industry analyst Josh Bersin, founder and CEO of the Josh Bersin Co.

While SuccessFactors' HR products have always been competitive with rivals like Workday and Oracle, they were not considered to be the most modern or state-of-the-art, he said.

The new features should make SuccessFactors HXM more suited to the modern workforce than traditional HR systems, which were built for rigid hierarchical structures, Bersin said.\

In the new work world, everybody's moving around at a very rapid rate … so they need a much more flexible HR system, because the hierarchical model gets out of date very fast.
Josh BersinFounder and CEO, Josh Bersin Co.

"In the new work world, everybody's moving around at a very rapid rate, and most companies have redeployed people into new business areas. They've restructured; they've grown the organization in businesses that they weren't in before," he said. "So they need a much more flexible HR system, because the hierarchical model gets out of date very fast."

Bersin found the focus on the whole-self model notable because most employee issues resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic centered around behavioral issues like mental health, well-being and stress rather than skills, he explained.

"Now they have a model to assess your work preferences, work styles, [and] personality. And all sorts of new applications can be built around these non-technical parts of the experience," Bersin said. "Neither Workday nor Oracle have anything like that, so there's a lot of potential for that."

Heading in the right direction

HR analyst Brian Sommer, founder and president of TechVentive, said that SuccessFactors is heading in the right direction for HR technology and is making applications that are more relevant for the different working environment of today.

"It's not enough to just have a transaction-processing HR system," he said. "The business problems post-pandemic are very different from what was going on before the pandemic. So they are trying to bring additional capabilities to make the solution more relevant for employers in today's extraordinarily challenging employment market."

HR professionals are looking for applications that not only find and onboard talent but also better manage the talent they already have, Sommer said. SuccessFactors HXM's new dynamic teams feature is well-suited for this and was very well received at SuccessConnect.

"They had a monster crowd, and just getting into some of the rooms was tough because everyone wanted to hear everything," he said. "The audience was eager, hungry and generally very positive and looked like they were going to bring the information back to share with their colleagues."

SAP SuccessFactors president Meg Bear speaking at the SuccessConnect conference.
Meg Bear, president and chief product officer of SAP SuccessFactors, speaks at the SuccessConnect conference.

The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered fundamental changes in the way HR technology vendors approach developing products that better reflect real-world issues, according to Holger Mueller, vice president and analyst at Constellation Research.

"The fundamental change is to support people as they work, in teams that often have nothing to do with cost centers and reporting hierarchies," Mueller said. "So dynamic teams is a key innovation, but we need to see how SuccessFactors will implement it."

With the new features, SAP SuccessFactors HXM is positioned well against its competitors, he said.

"They all focus on more or less the same things: skills and performance management and the employee experience," Mueller said. "Workday does not have dynamic teams, but ADP was the first to offer this three years ago in their Next Gen HCM, which goes [further] than what SuccessFactors announced."

Jim O'Donnell is a senior news writer who covers ERP and other enterprise applications for TechTarget Editorial.

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