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Lucie Mitchell

Sift Media

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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Facebook-style talent management software

internet

Talent management software provider SuccessFactors used its SuccessConnect event in San Francisco to claim the biggest ever enterprise application deployment, and to move talent management software closer to social networking functionality.

 
 
In his keynote address at SuccessConnect, CEO Lars Dalgaard hailed what he claimed is not just the largest Cloud Computing contract ever, in terms of user numbers, but "the largest single deployment of an enterprise application in history". SuccessFactors has inked a deal with German electronics giant Siemens AG, covering 420,000 users across 80 countries and in 20 different languages.
 
The announcement drew applause from a customer audience that ranged from large corporates to small businesses and voluntary organisations. The value of the deal has not been disclosed, but Paul Albright, CMO and general manager, said it will contribute no more than five% of annual revenues.
 
The deal was won against fierce competition from more than 30 vendors, said Dalgaard. Dalgaard added that he believed this was merely the first step on the journey with Siemens, where he hopes to "sweep away" its legacy on-premise systems.
 
The second key announcement was the launch of the company’s Employee Central module, now in Beta. SuccessFactors describes the tool as offering "revolutionary organisational insight and social collaboration for the enterprise".
 

Social networking 

 
The module includes a collaborative, social-networking type interface and functionality "giving managers and executives a single, real-time hub to have a more complete picture of their people".
 
The release is the latest example of an industry-wide trend towards merging business applications with social network-style features in the Cloud. For Dalgaard, the idea is to replace traditional organisational charts with an ongoing, more collaborative process.
 
"The org chart as we know it is dead," said Dalgaard. "You need to go beyond it. It’s no longer about boring document management… it’s about data that’s outside the org chart."
 
The Lineage function, in particular, reveals the organisational impact of making personnel changes or moving team members into new roles.
 

Creative potential

 
Dalgaard demonstrated the ‘Badges’ tool, in which staff members can award badges to colleagues for their skills, or their work on specific projects. This, said Dalgaard, inspires people and taps both their potential for creativity and their need for recognition: "It motivates your peers and makes them feel valued in the company," he said.
 
Dalgaard said that his vision is to combine social networking behaviours with enterprise applications, using words such as "fun" and "engaging" to describe the customer experience. There is potential for closer links between SuccessFactors and platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn, within an environment secured by his company, he said.
 
The theme of the San Francisco event was "execution for business success" with a view to "change the way people work", said Dalgaard. There will be similar events in New York, throughout the US and in Barcelona and Australia.
 
Eighty-one percent of its business remains in North America, but that is from a starting point of nearly 100% in 2003.
 
Speaking of SuccessFactors’ progress to date, Dalgaard said that it is now the fastest growing public SaaS company, with 4.7 million active users, compared with "Salesforce.com’s half a million". That customer base is in 180 countries, he said, and in "60 different industries… from Lego to the French Post Office". His strategy is to make SuccessFactors "as pervasive as email" at the heart of organisational strategy.
 
"We are continuing to have a true global presence," said Dalgaard, adding that "until we end up building [CRM and finance and accounting products], you’ll have to continue buying that from someone else."
 
 
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Lucie Mitchell

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

Read more from Lucie Mitchell
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