Workday Joins the Big Data Analytics Bandwagon

Workday big data analytics

Workday, the enterprise cloud Apps Company has big data analytics playing a big part in the new release. The release is targeted towards HR and financial reporting and it allows firms to combine large volumes of external and internal data.

The release called workday 20 has over 200 new features. The feasibility was explained through an example of HR executives using the tool to combine external remuneration data and salary surveys with internal salary figures. Competitive analyses can be effectively created with workday 20.

Workday executive speak

CTO at Workday Annrai O’Toole spoke about their new offering. “Simply, we’re saying now anything from the outside world can be sucked in and correlated with Workday HR and financial data. In essence, we’re making it easier for people to connect to all these third party-data sources and bring them into the Workday world and then use our inherent reporting capabilities to build meaningful dashboards and analytics.”

What Workday is trying to create is a unified system that utilizes big data analytics while using its own in-memory computing technology. Through this platform clients can avoid underlying problems that will crop up when using separate business intelligence systems according to O’Toole.

The tool

Continuing in the same vein O’Toole also said, “As they bring this data in, all the reporting capabilities inside Workday are instantly usable. The unified security model that everything sits in, all our abilities to deliver this onto mobile devices – all that comes with the big-data analytics.

They’re not stepping outside the Workday world to do this. The problem with an awful lot of BI products in particular is that because you’ve got to go into a separate technology base, you lose all the security information from the original core system.

Often you end with a completely separate BI system from your HR and finance systems, with completely different display technologies and completely different security, which is just tons and tons of pain and headaches.”

O’Toole chose to emphasize the fact that the tool was a one-stop-shop of sorts in terms of big data analytics and that clients would never have to compromise their security as they would never have to leave the tool.

Big Data Analytics Tool Uses

The big data tools that the new feature brings is capable of analyzing information that is available through large volumes of social data. The tool is thought to be especially useful in terms of tightening against competition.

For example, let us assume a client to have a call center operation in Texas and information about another call center operation springs up. The tool would be the ideal way to look up salaries and retain staff against the perks that the new company will probably offer.

As the feature is a new release, the initial version comes with 10 ready-made templates. The templates cover HR reports like reports on high-performer analysis, headcount, retention and impact, global payroll costs and market compensation comparisons.

Apart from these, the release was also introduced with five finance related templates. They include sales performance, customer profitability, supplier sentiment analysis, regional revenue performance and competitive benchmarking. O’Toole said that the templates were based on their customer base cases and that they would be adding to the templates consequently.

He also said that the templates could be personalized and modified according to the client’s individual needs. The templates that will soon be available are revenue pulse and worker productivity. The revenue pulse template creates a snapshot on internal and external data sources of the business drawing.

Building on the tool

O’Toole was of the opinion that building on the tool would not be especially hard as the underlying data model was a common model among all the users. The commonality makes it easy to share new templates amidst users.

He said, “We worked with about 20 design partners – they’re existing customers with an interest in this big-data thing. We brought them into our offices and said, ‘OK. What are the use cases today where you’re doing some manual stuff, you’re pulling data out of Workday into a spreadsheet and you’re pulling other information into the spreadsheet? What are those things that, is we automated them, would make your life a lot simpler?’,(sic)”


Workday has worked with major names like Deloitte and IBM Global Business Services in order to create two new templates. O’Toole was of the opinion that the template would grow much bigger with time. He said that the systems integrator partners and general people would be able to create new templates for prebuilt reports, use cases and dashboards with a general application.

The Workday tool was built to be intuitive from two perspectives according to O’Toole. He was quoted as saying, “One is the whole element of the look and feel of this thing – it’s point and click. The second element of this is possibly more important: which is that in traditional BI you need to know the answers before you can ask the questions because traditional BI comes from a very structured star-shaped schema – data cubes and all that sort of stuff.”

Unlike typical big data projects that are complicated and expensive, the Workday tool was a usable prototype. Early adopter customers were able to get the prototypes running right from the first day.

At Workday the tool is believed to be discovery –oriented. The tool allows people to look at the different types of data, formulate queries, and use a discovery –based approach to build out interesting analytics.

Even though the company currently has 20 customers, some big brand names are associated with Workday. Conglomerate Spectrum Brands and US snack food maker McKee Foods are two of the big name brands associated with Workday.

An iPad tool Notebooks is featured in the new Workday 20. The tool allows users to switch between HR profiles and reports. Users can also organize and label Workday information on the apple iPads. Versions that are supported by other devices and operating systems will soon be released.

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