Tag Archives: SuccessConnect

SuccessConnect 2023 – Expectations met and exceeded

After a bit of a journey to get to SuccessConnect, I have to say my conference has been pretty great. (Couple of highlights in the pics above, seeing a cool AI use case and chatting to Amy and Aaron.)

I promised Jon Reed that I’d do a recap blog post on how what I’d seen about SuccessConnect that matched with, underwhelmed or exceeded my expectation – as I’d laid out in my prior post. So here goes!

AI… was there any mention of AI, OMG, you couldn’t stop hearing about it. The keynote was AI, every sessions had a reference to AI, current or future plans, it was everywhere except the Tuesday night party. Meg Bear did make a good point – expecting to not hear about AI at a tech conference would be more remarkable.

However, I did see a demo of using generative AI to put together a performance goal that really did wow me. (first photo in this post) A simple use case, but it took my prompt for a goal of “create an SAP BTP SuccessFactors extension application” and turned it into a SMART goal, added a bunch of very relevant steps, and SAP will be happy, even suggested I add it to the SAP Store. All with a set of reasonable date and details for each step. I was impressed, there are very few people I know who could have come up with a better representation of that idea as a performance goal.

My only worry, now, is that creating goals is going to be far to easy and fun for my team if they were to use this (we use SAP SuccessFactors internally at Discovery) and I’m going to end up reviewing a stupid number of goals, but at least they would all be SMART ones! But to that point, my next thoughts were around how is this going to be paid for, because it can’t be “free”! Generative AI costs money to run. This took a little more digging into, but I was happy to find an answer that made sense to me.

SAP, after realising that building their own LLM tooling was silly and that others do it better, have chosen not to only go with the one LLM/AI/ML platform but instead are using multiple. The SAP-wide chat agent “Joule” being powered by IBM Watson, the goal setting piece that wow’d me being powered by Microsoft. In the end the customer shouldn’t really care which underlying engine does the processing, as long as it doesn’t leak personal or company data (and I’m pretty sure that SAP are making sure that doesn’t happen.) But on the other-hand, customers shouldn’t have to purchase subscriptions for each piece of AI logic they use. And this, is what I’m told will happen – a single SAP-wide subscription to AI services that can be used on perhaps a pay-as-you-use basis – that bit apparently not 100% sorted yet – but the single subscription model sounds great.

I had some great conversations with a few people about the potential for vendor lock-in coming from AI – or at the very least the need to provide much more historic data in any system migration to “train” your AIs on your company’s data (with the associated up tick in migration costs meaning that there will need to be some really compelling reasons to migrate.)

This will be more relevant for some areas than others. Whilst Holger assured me that technically import/export of trained models will be possible, I’m not seeing that will happen. No vendor is going to let you bring your AI training with you when you leave the platform, you’re going to have to re-train, and that is going to mean migrating LOTS of data. There may be scope for data load that isn’t “in-system” just for training of AIs – think this is a new problem that hasn’t happened yet, but there may some benefits for first movers in this space – let’s see what happens.

Opportunity Marketplace – Yeah, was mentioned quite a lot, references to is from pretty much all tracks apart from payroll. I should have made that one a drinking game. But customer stories on how it had benefited them, I didn’t hear too many of. The one customer I was hoping to hear from had pulled back from implementing due to desire to reset all the Talent Intelligence Hub links and skills and competency model in their organisation. So I’m still looking for those stories that can help me justify the implementation to a new customer. I still think it’s a great tool and I like it, but just because I like it doesn’t mean it solves a problem for a customer well enough that they will buy it. I think the problem here might be with so much new cool stuff happening in Talent Intelligence Hub, customers are struggling to figure out how to get their houses in order to benefit. They all know they will benefit, but deciding on which skills your organisation uses, that’s not as easy a task as you might think it could be!

Recruitment – well I can tell you they heard LOUD and clear the feedback about removing the drag and drop in the new recruiter experience. The new experience is here and aligns with Horizon theming in rest of platform. Some cool use cases for AI in allowing detection of skills in candidate CVs and allowing comparison of candidates by skills alignment with role. Think we will be entering into the new war of AIs – with AIs generating candidate CVs to make them as attractive as possible to the AI that are pulling the details out of them. This is going to be a space to watch.

Learning – No surprises here, the new experience looks great, lots of discussion about how this will work with new skills and competencies. I think biggest thing to come here (apart from the new experience) is the offline mobile experience for Android. That will make a difference for many, especially the “deskless” workers.

Talent Intelligence Hub – again, nothing unexpected. Great news is that it seems the SAP teams responsible for the product are as genuinely excited about handling the difference between employment level info and person level info – looks like we are aligned on this one. Now just looking to see how to ensure it happens. i hope we see some significant customer adoption of this solution as pretty much ever new non-payroll enhancement to the suite appears to be based off it.

Concurrent Employment/Temporary Assignments/Higher Duties – Okay, it wasn’t as hidden as I thought it might be, but it certainly didn’t get the exposure it deserves. Great thing is I met with Farah Gonzalez who is the VP, Global Product Management for Public Sector. Kicking myself for not having taken a photo of the two of us, but here’s her LI profile shot – given the effort gone to here, seems a shame not to share!

Anyway, I have found someone to share all my hopes, dreams, expectations and disappointments for this area of the product and we’re setting up a meeting to discuss, I’m very much looking forward to that (once I get over the jetlag and backlog of customer stuff from being at #SuccessConnect.) I still think these solution are very relevant for organisations that aren’t public sector and very much play into the #FutureOfWork type discussions. But making connections with people like Farah is exactly why going to SuccessConnect in person is so valuable for me (and my customers!)

Payroll – Well, this is interesting. Next Gen Payroll has a new name – SAP SuccessFactors Payroll and will be in early adopter (as in productive usage!) for some customers implementing in UK this year for hopefully go lives next year. US version to follow, with Germany, Canada and Australia, to follow some undetermined time later. Likely target market for near future will be smaller organisation with payrolls of less than 1000 emps, so not really your legacy SAP payroll or ECP customers yet. Hoping that means my company might be a possibility when Australian push happens, we have both S/4HANA (public cloud) and SAPSF… ( hint, hint any SAP people reading this!) A LOT of discussion around customers needing more certainty on timelines and SAP not being able to give this, which I found a little frustrating (not that SAP couldn’t communicate a timeline, but that we spent so long discussing it. but it is worthwhile that SAP knows how frustrating that is. So I guess I can handle a little frustration for the global good.)

APIs/Third Party Cookies deprecation handling/Audit logging – really enjoyed a couple of sessions around the more “techy” areas of SAP SuccessFactors. There is probably enough there that I could fill an entire post by itself – so I probably will. But highlights/call outs:

  • The poor guy running the main tech roadmap session hadn’t been pre-briefed on who I was (evil grin) and probably let me ask too many questions,
  • Had multiple customers come up to me afterwards and thank me for asking those same questions!
  • Very surprised that SAP didn’t use the conference as an opportunity to pre-brief customers on upcoming URL changes to ALL SAPSF instances and IAS/IPS instances.
  • We’re moving away from OData! seems that SAP isn’t pushing CAP into it’s own products, because SAPSF going to move to a REST based API and away from OData. The things I heard about streaming/websocket APIs are apparently not going to happen (boooooo), But good news is that new framework for API development should be MUCH simpler for SAP to implement internally, so getting an external API to new functionality, should be much faster and simpler. Think there will be a lot to play out in this space.
  • Finally Audit and access reporting functionality coming back. Audit logging will be using the SAP BTP Audit logging functionality – thus ensuring compliance with all those tricksy global compliance legislations. Access log reports will also be available shortly (if not this coming release – I honestly can’t remember, but will be checking release notes and the slide decks when I get them.


Thanks to the amazing Liliana Zolt who helped make the whole experience so smooth over the three days of the conference, huge appreciation. Was wonderful to catch up with the undeniable brains-trust of the SAP SuccessFactors consulting world, all the interactions with everyone were fantastic and the people we spoke to on the SAP side were all amazing and so willing to make the time to chat to us. Was amazing to be there. Really looking forward to next year in Lisbon (now just to figure out how to convince the company to pay for an even longer flight!)

  • *Updated to note SAP SuccessFactors Payroll expected to be live for some limited initial customers *next* year, not this year, just implementation this year! Still very exciting though!

Grounded in Reality and Pragmatism.

That’s not a title to any piece about AI or ML that I’ve heard for quite some time, especially not something out of any HXM vendor’s keynote!

If you haven’t already – please listen (watch too if you like) to this really short – less than one minute, clip of Meg Bear talking about Artificial Intelligent and Machine Learning as part of the executive open Q&A at the last SuccessConnect conference (2021).

sourced from twitter: https://twitter.com/megbear/status/1467231582184296449

I’ve included the transcript (as I could make out) below:

“So what we know deeply, is that machine learning and AI are great tools but they are not sufficient conditions for the overall experience that we are trying to drive. It needs to be bringing that technology in concert with people, in concert with who I am and what I want to add to it. To create something that is truly powerful.

And, so, while we are absolutely putting machine learning and artificial intelligence inside our data model. We’re talking about it in a much broader way. Because we know that just saying that you have machine learning is not sufficient. It needs to be about what is the outcome for me as an individual and what is the outcome for the business, and it needs to be grounded in deep reality and pragmatism.”

Meg Bear – SuccessConnect Executive Keynote 2021

Okay firstly, hats off to Meg! When she gets going on a topic that she’s enthused about, there isn’t anyone that’s going to stop her. I think if you listen carefully you can hear some of the the rest of the the team giggling slightly in awe of Meg doing her thing. It was a completely passionate geek-out that was by far the highlight of the whole conference for me. Mainly because I couldn’t agree harder and would have had trouble articulating it more eloquently, especially if I were on a live Q&A in front of thousands of people. Thanks Meg for following up on my request to get that video. (I’ll not include the link to the original request because Amy Wilson might not ever speak to me again if I reposted that particular screen grab!) (oh to be able to retrospectively edit the photos in livestream tweeting)

The current state of ML in people management is pretty basic and some of the uses that have been attempted are pretty bad. For an interesting take on what not to use ML for – check out Thomas Otter’s piece on flight risk indicators. Just looking at what SAP have managed to deliver in this space recently and we haven’t got much more exciting than the Amazon “other shoppers who purchased a course in first aid also purchased a course in CPR”. It’s not inspiring (which is probably why some organisations try to do things like flight risk.

So, Meg turning the conversation around from a technology bang-whizz smoke and mirrors magic show to instead focus on the objective that we are trying to achieve of great employee experience is very important. We need to realise that there is very much a “human” in HXM and attempts to remove it will fail.

I watched a demo, in the same conference (eek), of a chat bot that had been put in place to help gather more details about how people were coping during lockdown due to COVID 19. What was very interesting to me (other than I manage to stop myself from screaming at the screen) was that there were quite a range of opinions in the session I was in about whether this was good or bad. Let’s just say I was in the “You have got to be f’ing kidding me” side of the opinion poll, whilst others were more on the “That’s a cool way to get feedback” side. The reason I think this is terrible is because if your outreach to people who are suffering because of isolation is to throw a bot at them then you’ve completely missed the H bit of HXM. And that bit is important to me (and Josh Greenbaum it seems.)

And so, why is Meg’s focus on HXM and not technology so important? Because if you give techies technology -> they will build with it, and scarily enough, they will also believe what they are doing is good. I know, I’ve fallen into this hole so many times that I have a ladder purpose built for climbing out of tech for tech’s sake holes (it’s called a phone call to my good friend who has no issues in telling me I’m an idiot and to stop being stupid.)

So, I look forward to what comes next. I would really like to be able to make ML models that could help recognise things like which managers are helping their teams perform better so we can all learn what human interaction driving better experience. I want ML to send me alerts when thresholds of leave liability are likely to be exceeded so that I can send dashboard to managers who can then use their on-the-ground relationships with their staff to check those numbers and have person-to-person conversations with them. But I want all of it in a supporting, not supplanting role. Tech to help people interact with people, not replace that interaction.

We are getting (slowly, oh so slowly) to a state where we have platforms that can build these types of experience enhancing solutions. But as Meg says only when “grounded in deep reality and pragmatism”.

Okay – that’s enough SAP SuccessFactors love for one evening.

SuccessFactors team, remember all these nice things I said when I start complaining (again) about the Reimagined Home Page Migration! 😉

SuccessConnect 2019

Just some very brief highlights and musings from the lounge in LAX whilst I wait for my flight home to Melbourne.

This was the eXperience SuccessConnect, there were X’s everywhere! The amount of airtime that Qualtrics and experience management got may well have equalled the amount of time that the SuccessFactors product was discussed.

My SuccessConnect really kicked off with  the Monday partner briefing and meeting up with Sylvie Otten and introduced to Micheal Grimm from Ingentis. Was good to start off the event with a good moan about the state of CF vs Neo when it came to SuccessFactors extensions. Sorry Sylvie – I earned my namesake.

At least she was smiling in the photo!


Next up was the partner briefing – after having made the mistake of sitting near the front last year at it being the most boring multiple hours of the conference, I sat at the back so I could sneak out rather than pass out with boredom.

I was wrong.

David Ludlow completely creamed it with his update on roadmap and recent changes. That was probably the best 20mins of the entire conference. Wish I had sat nearer the front! Although have discovered that taking photos of slides in SAP’s newly preferred dark theme really doesn’t come out well, the black comes out browny grey – doesn’t look so cool… 🙁 But I got the slide deck – gold!

There were many cool things in there, but the new UI being proposed for the user landing page was probably the most exciting bit – which is why David didn’t say much about it, but left that for Amy the next day at the keynote.

Lots of debate about this new conversational AI based UI. With the biggest one being, there better still be menus and some way i can add a link to view my payslips, and apply for leave  with one click without having to type in “view my payslip”.

We’ll see how it develops as looks like planned delivery 2020 – but I’ll bet on it not being GA before next SuccessConnect. Perhaps beta with a couple of customers… lets see next year.

After David’s excellent presentation I got to catch up with the team of analysts and media folk who’d had a briefing that day. Josh Greenbaum was holding court and had some interesting comments around SAP’s strategy with payroll, but the wine and food was excellent and I left with some of the folks there to go to the exhibition show floor and do what I was supposed to be at the conference for (not chin wagging with analysts!)

I was here at SuccessConnect to sell a SAP CP extension for SuccessFactors that me and my team have built – it provides EHS functionality embedded into SuccessFactors. It’s pretty cool! But I would say that!


I have discovered that I sell much better with a glass of wine in my hand…

After that it was to Jewel nightclub to the Kronos and Rizing party (not sure I really should have continued drinking, next day was hard work!) But did get to meet up with Sherryanne Meyer which was nice.


The next day was lots of water and the keynote.


Have to say, I love the moments that matter idea. as in consider where you are putting your effort in making certain processes work better. It’s probably much more important that the initial day one experience for an employee is better than the process they have to use to apply for leave. They might apply for leave hundreds of times, but they only have one day one and it will be a much bigger impact. Think about the return to work process for return from parental leave, make that a great experience don’t worry so much about timesheet entry….

However I heard the term FAR too over used during the conference and used outside of the context i just described.

And then the keynote just went to “eXperience”. It was wow, everything was about HXM or Human eXperience Management, not Human Capital Management. Look, I dislike the HCM idea of treating employees as “Capital”, that’s not what we try to do, but still there is a whole bunch more the the successful running of employees in a business than just looking after their experience!

I observed cynically to someone (the night club from night before possibly didn’t help my mood) that it seemed  that the SuccessFactors exec team had all been given bigger KPIs to sell Qualtrics than they had to sell SuccessFactors.


After the keynote were lots of general sessions including loads of roadmap sessions! The conference team really listened to the customer desire for roadmap sessions and most were repeated at least one. Even better the sessions were short on presentation and long on questions. This is why people come to conferences rather than reading the slides at home (and without having to fly stupid distances around the world). So SUPER KUDOS to the SuccessFactors team, your roadmap sessions were AWESOME! I had lots of fun in one run by Mark McCawley who I meet for the first time and leaked some news that I’m hoping we can reveal soon that will make many customers very happy!

Saw mention that instance sync tool will allow copy back of employee data from prod to non-prod systems (without full system refresh) allowing for trouble shooting of issues in test environments – this is awesome and will be a huge benefit for customers. When you look at the list price that Accenture were/are charging for a SAP CP tool that does similar thing, you can see how customers were really wanting this functionality!

Talking of the SAP App Store and SAP CP extensions, they were highly visible this year on the show floor and customers were clearly interested!

Final keynote was more eXperience Qualtrics puff along with 3 partner add on solutions, and a strange plug for SAP.io which I’m pretty sure the audience didn’t care about. Much disappointment that non of the partners on the stage with SuccessFactors add ons were using SAP Cloud Platform – a real lost opportunity to showcase the power and benefit of having extensions that look like they are just additional modules of SuccessFactors, a functionality that SuccessFactors has that is unique – I’m afraid integration to ServiceNow isn’t really that unique…

Last day and the team:

went to the golf driving range, where I discovered I’m not terrible at this golf lark, but not good at it either. Was fun!

Anyway – flight about to be called.

Was great to be at SuccessConnect, think it would be good for the SuccessFactors exec team to perhaps take a moment to listen to the SAP Mentor feedback – perhaps we can arrange something for next year?

#SConnect15 – SuccessConnect 2015 Sydney Day 1

I think perhaps my photo taken on the way to the airport this morning sums up today pretty well.

An empty road with a whole bunch of speed bumps. I’m afraid that’s what today felt like. It’s kinda weird starting off a conference without hearing the keynote to set the tone. Even with SAP conferences like TechEd we have “pre-conference” days – thanks ASUG! But today was part of the conference, and it didn’t really feel like it.

An example of the bumpy road was having a session today on the new support model for SuccessFactors, but without mentioning the SFXpert program. It was kinda weird – but apparently Mike Ettling will talk about that in the keynote tomorrow, it’s a little confusing.

Moreover, there weren’t an awful lot of people here. Which in someways is pretty good, it means that we’re able to have comfortable conversations, no running around with microphones to ask questions. But it certainly seems that running a SuccessConnect in Singapore may have reduced the number of Sydney attendees. I’m not sure, perhaps tomorrow will bring more people? It was a big ask to get people to come for a whole day for 3 sessions.

But it was a glorious evening in Sydney:


and we’re keeping on going with the saving of Elephants and Rhinos with the corporate social responsibility thing

Would love to know where we’re at with that total – hopefully we’ve got above a few thousand dollars by now.

So a few bumps, a fairly empty road, but the way ahead looks clear, and the weather is glorious. I look forward to tomorrow. I just hope that the panel session with David Ludlow goes well. 🙂

we shall see.