Founded in 2005, Workday develops enterprise cloud applications for finance and human resources. These applications range from data science and machine learning algorithms that help make financial and people management decisions to professional services automation that streamlines recruiting, staffing, development and retention. Workday’s 2012 IPO was valued at $637 million and was described by Forbes as “the clearest sign yet of the relative strength of new enterprise technology companies.” Its revenues grew to more than $700 million in 2014, and it expects to exceed $1 billion in 2016.
Workday is investing a great deal of that revenue in research and development. It recently embarked on a discovery process in which it interviewed customers to find out what they want from learning solutions. What they found, according to Leighanne Levensaler, senior vice president of products at Workday, is that LMSs are “disconnected, impersonal, and not easy or fun to use.” Workday’s customers wanted “a system that would let them create and share content with each other and link to outside information that would help them learn…recommendations from people in the same job…and what they should learn from their next job.”
Historically, Workday has worked with Cornerstone OnDemand and Saba to help its customers find learning solutions. The introduction of Workday Learning may mean a gradual end to Workday’s collaborations with these companies, though the company says it will honor existing partnerships. But Workday believes it makes sense for a company to have all its cloud enterprise applications come from one vendor, though Vice Chairman Mike Stankey does say it’s impossible to be everything for everyone and says, “We’ll pick those industries where we think we can build almost everything,” including human resources and financials.
So Workday developed Workday Learning, which it describes as “a new application intended to offer a more personalized, meaningful learning experience” throughout the employee lifecycle. It will be available in the second half of 2016 and will use machine learning to recognize and recommend content to its users based on their jobs, stage in the employee lifecycle and personal learning preferences. It will also integrate existing Workday applications to measure effectiveness. Since a majority of learning professionals view strategic alignment as crucial for great training organizations, developing this capability is important.
For example, a Workday Learning user who just started her career as an accountant can specify that her career goal is to be a CFO. Workday Learning can then use that knowledge to recommend activities and job opportunities at her organization that will help her along her career path.
The application will support a variety of types of content, including microlearning activities, certification and compliance training, and videos. In fact, the ability to provide video content is supported by Workday’s acquisition of MediaCore, a video creation and sharing platform founded in 2011 for educators and trainers. MediaCore was one of Fast Company’s top 10 most innovative companies in digital video in 2013 and raised $4.5 million in Series A financing in 2015, led by Vanedge Capital.
Josh Bersin of Bersin by Deloitte wrote in Forbes that the rapid development of video technology means learning organizations are seeking ways to efficiently manage and distribute video content authored by their employees. Workday’s “integrated learning experience optimized for video” will provide this service, which will likely only grow in demand, as “the use of video learning has been explosive.” Some analysts predict that over 80 percent of all mobile Internet traffic will be video by 2018. Acquiring MediaCore at the same time they announce Workday Learning demonstrates Workday’s focus on video content and, Bersin believes, “is likely to create a new level of excitement for integrated video-based learning.”
Not only is video-enhanced training becoming more common, it also has many benefits. Enabling organizations to create their own content increases affordability, adaptability and engagement. When organizations can create and share videos, they can build their own training libraries, which employees will be able to use anytime and anywhere.
Levensaler says Workday has found that in organizations, “everyone is a teacher….Everyone is good at something, and they want to share that with each other.” With Workday Learning, now they can.