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走进Workday:未来在这里就绪

Adam Lashinsky 2018年10月30日

Workday成立仅13年,却有一半的《财富》50强企业和超过35%的500强企业都在关键性业务运营中使用其软件。

软件公司Workday加州普莱森顿的总部已经呈现出狂热的过节气氛。才十月第二周,员工们就开始在往日单调无聊的城郊办公区内大搞改造,一个个的格子间被精心布置上了万圣节装饰。

Workday的联合创始人兼CEO安尼尔·布斯里对此引以为豪,他看似低调地炫耀道,装饰比赛是公司办公室比赛的组成部分。布斯里严格刻板,但却曾经当众主动穿上奇装异服。那次他和公司的另一位联合创始人戴维·达菲尔德穿着奶牛和猴子连体睡衣主持全体员工大会,为的是向公司新签约的爱尔兰零售商Primark致敬,这些睡衣就是它们的商品。“员工开心,客户才能开心。”布斯里说。

如果说Workday偶尔浮夸情有可原,那是因为它的产品都十分严肃。Workday成立仅13年,却有一半的《财富》50强企业和超过35%的500强企业都在关键性业务运营中使用其软件。公司主营人力资源和会计部门使用的系统,尽管成立时间短,却已凭借操作简单、性能可靠的特征赢得了客户美誉和忠诚度。

对于布斯里和公司董事长达菲尔德而言,Workday已经是两人第二次合作。两人曾经在仁科公司(PeopleSoft)共事,该公司当时主营上一代企业技术类产品,后来被甲骨文(Oracle)通过残酷竞争以103亿美元的价格收购。如今Workday是“云”软件领域的领导者,客户以订阅的方式购买程序并进行远程管理。公司只通过互联网提供产品。Workday以研发费用超过竞争对手为荣,以客户满意度为荣,以快速扩张为荣。目前公司尚未实现盈利,但其年度现金流高达5亿美元,仍然维持着初创企业的增长势头。华尔街预测公司本财年收入将达到28亿美元,同比增长近30%。

财务增长、大额产品投入以及面向未来的员工(甚至还乐在其中)——兼具这些软硬指标的Workday荣登今年《财富》未来50强排行榜的榜首,这份榜单评选的是最具发展前景的公司,由管理咨询企业波士顿咨询公司(BCG)对大型上市公司进行定量分析生成。

Workday的首席产品官彼得罗斯·德米茨斯的手机上装了泡泡骚(PopSockets)手机气囊支架,上面画的是戴着头盔的希腊名将塞奥多罗斯· 科洛科特罗尼斯,他曾于19世纪的希腊独立战争中击败奥斯曼帝国的军队。“我想向他学习。”德米茨斯说,他在希腊长大,父亲是希腊人,母亲是英国人,妻子是西班牙人,曾经在日本、西班牙、亚特兰大等多个地方工作。他与达菲尔德和布斯里已经相识23年,因仁科公司收购了德米茨基创立的公司而结缘。

像其它软件公司一样,Workday也以为企业用户提供一站式购物为卖点招揽顾客。公司的第一个产品是人力资源管理系统。Workday凭借其每周在线更新和每年两次产品重新配置(频率均大大高于常规企业软件)、几乎零宕机成为同类产品中的佼佼者。德米茨斯称这种客户服务能力闻所未闻,自夸“Salesforce是唯一一家或许能和我们旗鼓相当的公司。”(Salesforce凭借其价值在去年的《财富》未来50强榜单上独占鳌头。)

Workday称公司的整体技术导向精神是前瞻性的。“很多公司都从后视镜中回顾历史,把陈旧的数据作为运营依据。”德米茨斯说。他精瘦结实,十分健谈,说话时爱打手势。“虽然已经被社会接受,但这是种技术犯罪。”德米茨斯介绍道,Workday的软件更新速度极快,用户从而可以清楚了解公司实时运营情况的方方面面,无论是员工的工作表现、公司的财务表现还是其它具体细分领域。

THINGS ARE GETTING a little crazy at the Pleasanton, Calif., headquarters of software maker Workday. It’s only the second week of October, but already employees are transforming the cubicles inside their otherwise charmless suburban office park into festive and elaborate Halloween displays.

This is a source of great pride for Aneel Bhusri, Workday’s cofounder and CEO, who humblebrags that the decorations are part of a companywide office contest. Bhusri is a straitlaced guy, but he’s been known to step into a costume himself. He and cofounder David Duffield once led an all-hands meeting in cow and monkey onesies in honor of Irish retailer Primark, a newly signed Workday customer that sells the garments. “Happy employees make for happy customers,” Bhusri says.

If Workday can give itself over to a little frivolity, that’s because its products are serious stuff. Just 13 years old, Workday makes software that runs critical operations for half of the Fortune 50 and more than 35% of the Fortune 500. It specializes in systems for human resources and accounting departments, and in its short life, it has earned a reputation for ease of use and reliability that has kept clients loyal.

For Bhusri and Duffield, the company’s chairman, Workday is a second act. The two also worked together at PeopleSoft, which made similar products an enterprise-¬technology generation ago before being bought by Oracle in a bitterly contested $10.3 billion takeover. Today Workday is a leader in “cloud” software, programs sold as subscriptions and managed remotely. The company built its wares specifically for online distribution. It prides itself on outspending competitors on R&D, on having happy customers, and on rapid expansion. It isn’t profitable, but it produces half-a-billion dollars in annual cash flow and is growing like a startup. Wall Street expects revenue in the current fiscal year of $2.8 billion, a nearly 30% year-over-year growth rate.

This combination of hard and soft metrics—financial growth, heavy product investment, and a future-oriented (even fun-having) workforce—has landed Workday atop this year’s Fortune Future 50, a quantitative analysis of large publicly traded companies assessed by management consultancy BCG to have their best years ahead of them.

PETROS DERMETZIS, Workday’s chief product officer, has a PopSockets grip on his phone with an illustration of Theódoros Kolokotrónis, a famously helmeted Greek general who defeated the Ottoman army to win Greece’s independence in the 19th century. “I try to copy him,” says Dermetzis, who was raised in Greece by a Greek father and an English mother, married a Spaniard, and has worked in locales as diverse as Japan, Spain, and Atlanta. He’s been associated with Duffield and Bhusri for 23 years, since before PeopleSoft bought his startup.

Like other software companies, Workday touts itself as a one-stop shop for corporate users. Its first product was for HR departments. Where Workday separates itself from the pack is in its weekly online updates, twice-yearly major product re-dos (both unusually frequent for enterprise software), and near-zero downtime. Dermetzis calls this ability to serve customers “unheard-of” and boasts that “Salesforce is the only company that comes close.” (Salesforce, for what it’s worth, was the top Future 50 company last year.)

Workday claims its company’s whole tech-oriented ethos is future-looking. “Companies are running their operations by looking in the rearview mirror with stale data,” says Dermetzis, a wiry and voluble man who gesticulates impressively while he talks. “These are technological crimes that society has accepted.” With Workday’s speedily updated programs, Dermetzis says, customers always have a clear real-time view of their operations, starting with how their people are performing but extending to their financial performance and other nuts-and-bolts areas.

公司CEO安尼尔·布斯里卖掉仁科公司后成立了Workday,两者的核心业务十分相近。照片来源:Courtesy of Workday

公司CEO布斯里将Workday的技术成就归功于公司的“工匠精神”。比如苹果2010年发布iPad时,Workday听任公司一个由刚毕业大学生组成的小团队开发了一个适用于iPad的版本。“我们的员工都精通Hadoop和Spark。”他说的这两个名字是程序员解决问题时常用的DIY编程工具。

Workday也知道自己的短板所在,但愿意花大价钱解决问题。2016年,公司开发了一个企业财务规划类产品,却没能流行。因此今年6月,Workday花费15.5亿美元收购了一家即将上市的年轻公司Adaptive Insights,希望填补产品阵容中的空白。

这是Workday迄今为止的最大收购,除了花费巨资,在其它方面可能也得费心费力。企业软件界资深分析专家摩根大通证券的帕特里克·沃尔瑞文斯称赞Workday领导能力强、市场机会大,“竞争优势让人羡慕。”然而,他认为Workday在吸纳整合Adaptive的产品时将面临挑战,“而且同时还要满足Adaptive4000家客户的需求,而这些客户中绝大多数使用的是Workday竞争对手甲骨文和微软的系统。”

Workday希望通过激励员工来保持公司发展势头,克服当前困难,而员工自身也会因为顾客满意受到鼓舞。决定年度全员股票奖励规模的其中一大指标是达到95%的顾客满意度。(另外两个指标和实现收入增长及产品里程碑有关。)

Workday打造顾客满意度的一种方式是大力进行产品开发。公司的年度研发费用占收入的31%,超过同类公司Salesforce和Adobe。“比起它们,我们追求的是更大的市场。”公司联合总裁兼首席财务官罗比内·西斯科说。“我们的产品更复杂。”

2012年加入Workday前,西斯科曾在通用电气、福特、Visa、甲骨文、Verisign和VMWare任职。如今她在主导公司推出最新的产品线——为企业提供财务管理系统(可能包括会计、财务报告等功能)。她指出,Workday有2300家顾客,几乎全都使用公司的人力资源软件,使用公司“财务类”产品的企业却少之又少(《财富》美国500强企业中仅8家)。

布斯里说,让这个关键软件完成“云就绪”,着实是个“浩大的工程”,但该产品线年度增长达50%。“我希望这个数字再高点,”他说。“但现在也能接受。”如果有不错的客户签约了新软件,他不介意再穿上奇装异服庆祝一番。(财富中文网)

本文的另一版本发表于2018年11月1日刊的《财富》杂志,题目是《永不停歇的Workday》。

译者:Agatha

Bhusri, the CEO, attributes Workday’s technological success to the company’s “tinkering mentality.” When Apple released the iPad in 2010, for example, Workday turned loose a small team of recent college graduates to create an iPad version of their product. “Our people are well versed in Hadoop and Spark,” he says, name-checking two programming tools popular with DIY problem-solvers.

Workday knows its limitations too—and it’s willing to stretch itself financially to address them. In 2016, the company released a financial planning product for businesses. It didn’t catch on. So this June, to fill that hole in its lineup, Workday paid $1.55 billion to buy Adaptive Insights, a younger company that was about to go public.

The acquisition, Workday’s largest, could be costly in non-financial ways too. Veteran enterprise-software analyst Patrick ¬Walravens of JMP Securities praises Workday for strong leadership, a large market opportunity, and an “enviable competitive position.” Still, he expects Workday will have challenges integrating Adaptive’s product into its own, “while at the same time satisfying the needs of Adaptive’s 4,000 customers, the vast majority of which run” on systems sold by Workday competitors Oracle and Microsoft.

To maintain momentum to hurdle such obstacles, Workday counts on motivating employees, who in turn are incentivized to please customers. One of the three metrics that determine the size of an annual, all-employee stock grant is hitting 95% customer satisfaction. (The other two involve revenue growth and product milestones.)

One way Workday satisfies customers is by spending lavishly to develop products. Its annual R&D expenditure, at 31% of revenues, bests peers Salesforce and Adobe by that measure. “We are going after a bigger market than they are,” explains Robynne Sisco, the company’s co-president and chief financial officer. “And our products are more complicated.”

Sisco did stints at GE, Ford, Visa, Oracle, Verisign, and VMWare before joining Workday in 2012. Today she plays a lead role in pushing Workday’s newest line, its offering for running a company’s financial management systems (think accounting, reporting, and the like). She notes that Workday has about 2,300 customers, almost all of whom use its HR software. But far fewer (and only eight Fortune 500 companies) deploy its “financials” product.

Bhusri says it has been a “huge undertaking” to make this critical software “cloud ready” but notes the line is growing 50% annually. “I would like that to be higher,” he says. “But I’ll take it.” And if the right customers sign up, he won’t be shy about dressing up in costume to celebrate.

A version of this article appears in the November 1, 2018 issue of Fortune with the headline “This Workday Never Stops.”

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