Chasing growth, Workday builds its NZ customer base and local capabilities

Chasing growth, Workday builds its NZ customer base and local capabilities

Partners play a big role in Workday's global and local sales and delivery

Stephen Jack (Workday)

Stephen Jack (Workday)

Credit: Supplied

US enterprise cloud software company Workday recorded $18.2 million in revenue in New Zealand for the year ended 31 January, well up on $14 million the previous year.

That gain was not enough, however, to take it into the black, with losses before tax reported at $5.3 million, up from $3.2 million in 2019.

Workday's managing director and vice president A/NZ, Stephen Jack, said he could not comment on country results but pointed to Workday's global results.

In its 2020 financial year, Workday global reported revenues of US$3.63 billion, up 28.5 per cent year on year, subscription revenue of US$3.10 billion, up 29.8 per cent and operating cash flows of US$864.6 million, up 42.5 per cent.

The company reported an overall operating loss of US$146.1 million.

"We're a growth business and our investment in growth is substantial," Jack said. "There's still a lot more we can deliver to our customers, a lot more product we are releasing.

"We tend to look at our business around growth rather then the P&L [profit and loss] on its own. We are enjoying growth in this part of the world as we are around the world."

It is still early days for Workday locally, too, as its New Zealand subsidiary — optimistically named Workday (NZ) Unlimited — was only registered in 2014.

While Workday might be best known as a provider of cloud-based human resources (HR) software, Jack said it was financial software that was now the fastest growing part of the business.

Jack said in NZ, Workday has a direct sales force, but works very closely with partners such as Deloitte and Accenture and Cognizant subsidiary Collaborative Solutions to implement software.

It also works with other partners in New Zealand to resell its planning software further down into the small and medium business market. These include Miro, G K Horizons and Fusion 5.

Jack said Workday had around 80 adaptive planning customers in New Zealand and most of those would have come through the channel relationship.

Workday also operates one of its global "follow the sun" support centres out of Auckland.

Jack said New Zealand provided two things: very similar privacy laws to the EU and Workdays' expectations; and a very stable market.

"That support centre really is part of the global support organisation," Jack said. "Whether you are a customer in EMEA, North America or here it doesn't really matter."

Workday has 110 staff in New Zealand and has expanded its local office to a second floor, including more customer interaction facilities, Jack said.

"We've also expanded, more importantly I think, the capabilities. When you walk through the NZ support centre you are pretty much seeing whatever we do around the world.

"We've got security, operations, compliance functions there, integrations teams who can work on any customer's case from anywhere around the world."

Jack said Workday had found good staff around the Auckland area and they had become very productive very quickly.

He estimated around 90 of the 110 staff in New Zealand were in the support centre part of the local business.

One recent large contract was with Trustpower, running financial software implemented by Accenture. Southern Cross Healthcare was another large local customer

"Probably COVID has highlighted the issues with legacy platforms and stimulated the need to move to digital platforms and SaaS," Jack said.

Customers such as Southern Cross were glad of the move because it allowed them to engage their workforce more easily than otherwise.

It allowed better staff communications and processes in the remote environment enforced by the pandemic, Jack said.

"We're getting really good feedback from customers and seeing more interest in the market with people saying they really need to get on and get digital platforms in place."

Jack said a recent IDC study the company sponsored showed more than half of C-level executives were struggling to make changes to their financial plans or to realigning their organisation structures during the pandemic.

"We are if anything seeing an uptick in demand because crisis always highlights what you need to do."

Jack, who spent five years in Christchurch as a child, said New Zealand was an important market for Workday, which was and would continue to investing here.

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