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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Workday Weaves In Big Data

Workday is making its Big Data play, and it says a lot about where the enterprise technology business is going â€" making software that is easier to use and trying to be the trusted place for corporate data.

Workday, a fast-growing company that offers online human resources and corporate financial software, announced a product that nontechnical managers can use to figure out quickly how their companies are performing on things like hiring objectives, employee attrition or revenue per worker for every division.

Other features include tools to compare payroll with overall market averages, ways of judging the possible cost to a company of losing a specific employee, and analysis of a high-performing employee’s characteristics and work history. Future uses, the company says, include ways of measuring the health of the company against independent metrics, and tools for raising worker productivity.

“This is analytics for mere mortals,” said Dan Beck, the company’s product manager for financials and analytics. For nontechnical companies, he said, “this kind of stuff is overwhelming.”

You might think it would be easy for a company to figure out how much money it is making per employee. That is, if you had not worked in your typical large company. In reality, people are spread across a number of locations, databases can be hard to merge and most of the tools that companies use require significant training.

Cloud-based software companies like Workday hope to address that â€" and win the hearts and minds of customers â€" by being relatively simple-to-use repositories into which lots of data can be poured. The first version of Workday Big Data Analytics, as Workday’s product is called, can draw information from a company’s SAP database, and make it part of the Workday corpus of data.

It can also use outside data sources, from places like Twitter, to analyze what suppliers and others are saying about a company or product.

“If the Workday data becomes the bedrock for analysis,” Mr. Beck said, “it eliminates a lot of moving parts. The customer can build their own human resources data mart.” A data mart is a place where data resides for potential use in analysis.

The product is being delivered as part of the company’s latest update, Workday 20. Unlike earlier enterprise software, the newest versions of cloud software can be automatically delivered to all customers, no matter when they first started using the product. The company said Workday 20 had more than 200 new features.