Event Report: SuccessConnect Fall 2021 – Elevating the Employee Experience

February 1, 2022

At the recent SAP SuccessFactors SuccessConnect virtual event SAP SuccessFactors executive leaders, customer representatives, and product developers and designers shared a consistent message – that in the new world of work winning organizations will be the ones that prioritize the employee experience at all points of the employee journey. That is a simple sounding, and obvious concept, but as we all know it has proved challenging and elusive for most organizations to instill in their work practices, cultures, and in the technology solutions they provide their employees. At SuccessConnect, SAP SuccessFactors’ leaders articulated a clear and compelling vision for a re-imagined workplace, with employees at the center, and supported by and enabled by a novel approach to workplace technology, which they call HXM – Human Experience Management.

During the SuccessConnect opening keynote, President Jill Popelka discussed how the pandemic and the nearly two years of workplace and personal disruption have increased the pressure and challenges facing organizations and HR leaders. The major changes are made in three principal areas. First, work has become much more personal, and increasingly employees and candidates seek greater purpose and meaning at work and through their work. Second, employee burnout and mental health issues for employees are on the rise, forcing employers to have to address issues that have traditionally been on the back burner. Finally, the role of the manager, and the relationship between the employee and their manager has become even more critical to the employee experience at work. And HR leaders themselves are not somehow exempt or immune to the workplace disruption and increased pressure, in fact 90% of HR leaders have reported increased stress levels because of the pandemic and related challenges

With that context established, the SuccessConnect event proceeded to highlight both the innovative technologies that SAP SuccessFactors has developed to help organizations meet these challenges, as well as highlighting several customer experiences and transformations demonstrating the impact of these technologies on the employee experience and the ensuing overall business outcomes. One such organization is Whirlpool, one of the world’s leading and most well-known manufacturers of home appliances. Whirlpool’s HR technology transformation story was featured both in the SuccessConnect keynote, as well as in a deeper dive session focusing on their journey as they worked to migrate their legacy, on-premise HR technology solutions to the cloud. I was fascinated by their story, as shared by Arun Serikar, Global Director HR Technology & Digital Transformation, and would like to share some of the key takeaways from that journey here

In the case of Whirlpool, as is common in many organizations that have been successful over a prolonged period, they had developed a considerable number of older, on-premise, and highly customized HR solutions that were difficult to integrate, were inefficient, and were not suitable to support the kinds of agile business transformations that the modern business and competitive landscape requires. Additionally, Whirlpool determined that the legacy, on-premise solutions did not have the needed design focus that modern business and modern employees demand. Primarily, these legacy solutions were about transaction completion and data accuracy, which of course are important, but are not what the primary goals of a modern set of HR solutions should be. By migrating from these disparate, legacy solutions to a modern, cloud-based suite, Whirlpool was able to address additional challenges in better, faster, and more insightful reporting and analytics. In fact, one example given during the Whirlpool session was that in the legacy environment, a simple global headcount report was a time-consuming process. In the new, cloud environment, the information, and insights that Whirlpool can produce from their HR and people data are significantly enhanced, allowing them to understand the state and progress towards important HR goals like meeting key diversity and inclusion targets

In addition to the practical modernization of their HR solutions platform, and the increase in data access and availability as a result, the migration to modern, cloud HR technology has enabled and empowered the HR function at Whirlpool to focus less on basic transaction completion, and more on the strategic, and critical people and talent challenges facing the organization. With an increase in self-service, mobile, and “bot” based automation, the HR team at Whirlpool has become more energized, engaged, and important to the organization and their achievement of their business objectives. This idea, that modern HR tech can free up HR organizations to do higher value-added and strategic work is often promised, but to see it being delivered at Whirlpool as an outcome of their adoption of SuccessFactors cloud solutions is encouraging. And is a good reminder and proof-point that the pace, speed, and dynamism of the current business environment and the competition for talent requires HR technologies that are equally dynamic and adaptive.

Finally, Arun shared some of his advice and tips for those organizations who are about to embark on a similar journey to migrate their legacy, on-premise HR solutions to the new, modern cloud HR technologies. First, ensure that the migration project plans allow for some flexibility, as new capabilities and enhancements that matter for the organization should be incorporated into the plans. What you do not want is to go live with a solution set that is already one or two releases out of date. Next, any successful HR tech project, certainly one that introduces change across the organization, must be communicated early and often, and with emphasis on the specific benefits that employees can expect to see that will impact their own success. Additionally, Arun recommends that you forge a true partnership with your HR tech provider, with each side having responsibility and accountability for the project’s success. Finally, and most importantly, the project must be aligned across the teams (HR, IT, Finance, Procurement, etc.), by an overarching set of guiding principles and associated desired business outcomes that serve to inform decisions, prioritize work items, and keep everyone centered and focused throughout the process

Overall, SuccessConnect did an excellent job of showcasing thought leadership and understanding of the key business and HR issues facing organizations today and describing the role and importance of modern HR solutions in meeting these challenges. Plus, the many customer showcase sessions provided practical examples of the impact of these technologies in the real world and in a rapidly moving marketplace. Finally, the demonstrations of some of the very latest solutions like SAP SuccessFactors Opportunity Marketplace and Dynamic Teams provide ideas and inspiration for organizations that need to connect the dots between business challenges and desired outcomes, supported and powered by modern HR technology.

For more information about SuccessConnect and to view recorded sessions on-demand, please visit https://events.sap.com/successconnect/en/global-home.

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