RealTime IT News

A New 'Workday' for ERP

This is not for the change-averse or faint of heart.

Former PeopleSoft co-founder and CEO Dave Duffield this week opened Workday, a company offering Web-based enterprise resource planning (ERP)  software for mid-sized companies.

The software, which features a browser-based interface and a Web services-based approach to interoperability, is intended to mirror actual workflows and help users cut down on the number of steps needed to make actionable decisions.

Workday is positioning its software as ideal for companies that don't have multiple reporting layers or cumbersome decision-making processes.

"It's not for everybody," co-founder Aneel Bhusri told internetnews.com during a conference call with reporters.

"It's for the new generation of growth-oriented companies looking for a new way to run their business.

"Some companies may find this is too much change for now," he added.

Workday's success or failure will likely depend on whether it has made the right bets on how new mid-size companies are being run.

Bhusri said that Workday is targeting companies with between one thousand and five thousand employees and with between $200 million and $1 billion in annual revenues.

The first of several applications Workday is introducing is a human capital management (HCM) application.

This will be followed next year by revenue management, financial management and other standard enterprise resource management software.

The HCM application, Duffield said, takes advantage of Web 2.0 trends affecting the enterprise, from the emergence of software-as-a-service (SaaS)  to SOA , and its interface incorporates the use of hyperlinks, AJAX  and Flex.

"We've created an environment that looks much more like a typical consumer Internet site, with the interaction and flexibility that today's information workers have come to demand," said Duffield.

The software is based around an object-management server, a user interface server and an embedded enterprise service bus (ESB).

The ESB allows the HCM product to interact with third-party applications and to build a catalog of integrations that customers can then reuse as services.

The company notes that integration, an afterthought for legacy systems, is at the heart of its new offering.

Ken Morris, Workday's vice president and chief technology strategist, said that the company is "leveraging a core set of recently accepted standards for interfacing between systems."

Morris also told internetnews.com that Workday has designed its user interface to be completely separate from the basic data and business logic.

"New UI technology tends to come along much more rapidly than business technology, so we'll be able to rev that pretty easily," he said.

Workday is intriguing for a number of reasons.

The sale of PeopleSoft to Oracle gave Duffield more than simply enough capital to fund this new venture almost entirely on his own.

He has also been able to lean on PeopleSoft's reputation as one of the most user-friendly of the so-called legacy software applications, giving the new company almost instant credibility as a people-oriented vendor.

This extends to the personal level; Duffield has maintained excellent relations among his peers as well as among customers.

Workday was able to announce out-of-the-box integrations with Microsoft  and ADP , as well as a partnership with systems integrator Accenture .

It also announced Kana Software and Biosite  as customers.

Moreover, the timing for this launch may well be propitious for an on-demand ERP vendor.

Forrester analyst Ray Wang told internetnews.com that enterprises are for the first time looking beyond customer relationship management and expressing greater interest in more complex applications delivered via the Web.

"HR and ERP have overtaken interest in CRM for SaaS among our client base," Wang said.

Wang noted that the technology underpinning Workday's solution is patterned on how people function.

"It's not just another ERP product, it's a new way of doing business on the Web," he said.