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SAP's vision for full SuccessFactors HCM-Qualtrics integration could take years

SuccessFactors HCM customers have access to workplace data that gives them a sense for what's happening, such as an employee exit. The recently acquired Qualtrics tech could help reveal why something is happening, but SAP's vision for a complete integration of the two products will take time.

SuccessFactors HCM users will begin to see Qualtrics employee experience capabilities in May or June. Initially, new capabilities will be an add-on product for users, but the long-term goal is to fully embed Qualtrics in the HR platform. Don't expect to see that anytime soon, as SAP said it has no roadmap yet for how to get there.

SAP recently paid $8 billion for Qualtrics, a firm based in Provo, Utah, that measures brand, product, customer and employee experience across its Experience Management platform.

Initially, the Qualtrics platform will be a stand-alone tool for SuccessFactors HCM users, although it will soon gain the capability to interact with some SuccessFactors HR modules. For instance, a survey may be triggered for new employees hitting their 90-day mark at the company.

But the long-term goal is to take Qualtrics employee experience measures and analytics and "completely embed" them in SuccessFactors, according to Lara Albert, senior director of solution marketing and management for SuccessFactors HCM at SAP.

Complete integration is the goal

"Obviously, the big win long term is to have full integration" of Qualtrics within SuccessFactors modules themselves, Albert said.

The Qualtrics integration will bring new capabilities to the SuccessFactors modules, such as talent acquisition, workforce analytics and compensation management, according to Albert, who noted there is minimal overlap between the two products.

For instance, the Qualtrics platform will provide pulse-type survey capability. Although SuccessFactors has some polling capabilities in its social collaboration tools -- namely Jam -- pulse surveys remain in development, Albert said.

"The Qualtrics acquisition for SuccessFactors means accelerating how we close those gaps," she said.

Trying to understand the 'why'

Qualtrics will also bring SuccessFactors HCM users a deeper understanding of their analytics data, according to Albert.

Obviously, the big win long term is to have full integration.
Lara AlbertSenior director of solution marketing and management for SuccessFactors HCM at SAP

SuccessFactors HCM customers have access to a lot of workforce data, such as employee exits by their role and gender and employee location, Albert said. When an employee quits, for example, what they don't know in most cases is why those exits are happening, she said.

What Qualtrics brings is an ability to "understand employee emotions and attitudes," such as factors that are influencing an employee's decision to leave an organization or whether new-hire training is effective, Albert said.

Liz Herbert, an analyst at Forrester, said all vendors that cater to HR are talking about employee experience, and she said she doesn't see SAP's "vision as being radically different than other vendors in the market."

Herbert said she believes the goal of the SuccessFactors HCM and Qualtrics integration is to use employee experience data to take action and fix problems.  

Finding the root cause of problems

For instance, employee experience measures may find that call center employees are struggling to complete daily tasks and are frustrated. Data like this could lead to changes in training, hiring or improvements to employee work-life balance and compensation. Or, the data may reveal that an IT system is clunky and hurts customer service, according to Herbert.

But integrating all experience measures and analytics from Qualtrics with the existing SuccessFactors HCM modules could take years, Herbert said.

Indeed, if Qualtrics faces any risks in the near term, it may be keeping great employees who are more interested in working for a startup, Herbert said. Still, she said SAP seems very committed to making the acquisition a success.

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