co-founder diginomica
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Salesforce.com chooses another best friend in Workday

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19th Sep 2013
co-founder diginomica
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OK, so the story so far.

Salesforce.com and Oracle  have rumbled along over the best part of a decade with the former increasingly becoming a pain in the latter's CRM side as Oracle alumnus Marc Benioff drove his firm harder and harder into the traditional Oracle hinterland.
Then suddenly peace broke out earlier this year and both sides declared that they'd be teaming up to use one another's products (to varying degrees), including Salesforce.com standardising on Oracle's Fusion HCM applications.
The rapprochement was, according to an Oracle FAQ messaging document at the time, a blow against Workday, carving a name for itself in the second decade of this century as the HCM equivalent of the Salesforce.com pain in the Oracle side. 
That FAQ document stated: "This agreement is also a forceful strike against Workday. It unsettles Workday’s strategy of going to market as a favored SFDC partner. It also drives a wedge into the Workday/SFDC alliance to deliver services on Force.com."
The memo went on to state: "Salesforce.com will implement Oracle HCM Cloud and Oracle ERP Cloud internally."
So far, so good 
This week you could be forgiven for having a sense of deja vu again. While Oracle prepared to announce some rather lacklustre quarterly financial results, Salesforce.com and Workday chose to announce that they were in fact still BFFs, the Oracle wedge hadn't driven home and Salesforce.com was about to standardise on Workday internally!
At this point you may be forgiven for going 'Huh?'.
Angela Eager of research firm TechMarketView was puzzled. "Uniting the two Cloud environments makes sense and the applications complement each other. What does not make sense is that this mirrors an almost identical agreement Salesforce.com made with Oracle in June relating to Fusion financials and HCM in the cloud,"  she notes.
Eager also points out: "There was no mention of the role of Salesforce.com’s own early stage HCM applications in either announcement. One interpretation is that it is not going well so Salesforce.com is hooking into other players to access these areas of functionality and the coveted back office space which has been resistant to SaaS so far."
So, the devil's in the detail perhaps?  For his part, Benioff said Salesforce.com and Workday have agreed to use each other’s software products internally and this will minimise deployment times and costs for customers as employees will gain familiarity with each company’s products.
He also put an interesting interpretation on the alliance when he declared:  “This is primarily an engineering release. These phenomenal solutions are better when they work together….Customers want integration, they want partnership, they want vendors to have working relationships with each other."
He added: "Not all vendors have this philosophy. They’ve isolated themselves. They think they can do it all. I think increasingly customers will have an aversion to vendors that don’t have these types of partnerships and working relationships in place.”
HCM choices
Where does this leave Salesforce.com and its use of Oracle Fusion HCM? Frankly, who knows?
Benioff was coy on this point, stating that Salesforce.com uses the Oracle ledger internally - ie not the still relatively early days to market  Workday alternative -  but that the company is going with Workday as its standardised choice.  "We have evaluated a number of packages but made the decision to go with Workday,” he said.
From Oracle comes silence on all this - so far. 
But with Oracle OpenWorld kicking off on Sunday and CEO Larry Ellison due to take to the stage on Tuesday to pitch the firm's Cloud vision and strategy, all eyes will be on what emphasis is placed on Salesforce.com.
The odds on Benioff making a guest appearance on stage would however seem to have lengthened...
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