Disney, Boston Scientific show cloud transition stories can have happy endings

LAS VEGAS – In the Jules Verne epic Around the World in 80 Days, Phileas Fogg and company have no choice when faced with a challenge to traverse the globe faster than anyone has before – they must head to the clouds.

And so too must human resources practitioners and the IT teams that support them, says Mike Ettling, the president of human resources at SAP. Evoking the Verne classic throughout his keynote that opened SAP’s SuccessFactors conference, the message was made clear.

“Make no mistake, in the nex three years, HR will will definitely be in the cloud,” he said. “HR is not going to exist for the sake of HR, it’s there to become the enabler of the business, the enabler of the CEO’s agenda.”

While SAP’s SuccessFactors software is currently transitioning to run on the company’s HANA in-memory database platform along with the rest of its products, there is currently no available on-premises option for the HR suite. While SAP’s legacy HCM offering is still available for companies not ready to move into the cloud, SAP is clearly focused on its rapidly growing SuccessFactors business that it acquired in 2012 and has scaled to more than 4350 customers.

That leaves SuccessFactors as the only SAP product unable to run on its S4 HANA for on-premises deployments, notes Holger Mueller, principal analyst at Constellation Research Inc.

“It will be interesting to see if they can keep it up… the question is does it matter to customers,” he says. “There’s large groups of businesses that are not cloud ready yet.”

So to help show prospective customers the way, Ettling did more than reference Verne’s classic (his favourite version of which is the 2004 Disney movie starring Jackie Chan.) He brought out two high profile SAP companies on stage and had their IT execs talk about their journey to the digital cloud. Here’s what they had to say:

Disney’s HR technology fairy tale

Jane Bemis, VP of enterprise HRIS at Disney, presents at SuccessConnect in Las Vegas.
Jane Bemis, VP of enterprise HRIS at Disney, presents at SuccessConnect in Las Vegas.

When The Walt Disney Company started down the path of implementing SuccessFactors, it wanted to achieve an outcome of more engaged employees, said Jane Bemis, vice-president of enterprise HR information systems at Disney. That meant an integrated digital architecture was required.

“Our focus on the employee experience means that employees can use the technologies intuitively,” she says. “We wanted to design from the employee point of view, not the HR point of view.”

Bemis shared some guiding principles Disney had for the project:

  • Anywhere, Anytime, Any device: To create an addictive and compelling user experience on any device. A consumer-like experience that would boost engagement. Provide a career-supporting profile view that would tell employees their story.
  • On-going technology currency: A platform that is continuously advancing to reflect the evolving digital life of the employee. Have frequent new functionality releases.
  • Globally available, locally configurable: Connect talent worldwide while also supporting individual businesses. Deliver consistent quality brand and experience across the company.
  • Integrated processes and technology: HR leaders can get a holistic view without navigating to separate talent management applications. Promote common data and process to eliminate silos.

Disney plans to deploy several modules of the SuccessFactors suite eventually to manage its 180,000 employees in 45 markets around the world. So far its done the talent management suite and the learning suite. The learning deployment took the form of an internal website offering on-demand education.

“We knew when we started this process we wanted a home page that would make it very easy,” Bemis says. “We also wanted a page that highlighted many different learning opportunities.”

The site features content like a leadership speaker series that features video with many different leaders from across Disney’s enterprise.

Boston Scientific’s new approach

From Boston Scientific, Rich Adduci right) CIO and Nitin Mattal, head of HR, present at SAPs SuccessFactors.
From Boston Scientific, Rich Adduci (right), CIO, and Nitin Mattal, head of HR, present at SAP’s SuccessFactors.

Boston Scientific is the world’s largest medical device manufacturer and operates in 110 countries, so when CIO Rich Adduci proceeded with an overhaul of the firm’s HR technology, he knew it wouldn’t be without a lot of work.

“Anyone that’s gone through a major transformation as we did, knows that you need to have great partnerships for success,” he says. “I saw in SuccessFactors that willingness to evolve and develop that product.”

In addition to SAP, Boston Scientific also worked with Accenture as an advisor on how to transform their HR department and processes.

It was the need to replace a 17-year-old Peoplesoft system that had Boston Scientific looking at the cloud, Adduci says. “No one could figure out the terminology of how that darn thing worked.”

As it pursued an integrated technology model for its HR department with SuccessFactors, Boston Scientific had three strategic imperatives in mind:

  • Talent: Establish external and internal talent pipelines, enhance college relations and diversity recruitment, expand early career development offerings, emphasize development of internal leadership.
  • Culture: Promote organizational speed, promote employee engagment and work/life integration, foster culture of high performance and inclusion.
  • Capability: establish workforce analytics, promoted engagement through total rewards inititives, improve operational management through increased strategic engagement with business leaders.


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Brian Jackson
Brian Jacksonhttp://www.itbusiness.ca/
Former editorial director of IT World Canada. Current research director at Info-Tech

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