Aneel Bhusri on the Cloud, the iPad, and the Consumer Enterprise Application

Aneel Bhusri was interviewed this week by Matt Rosoff for Business Insider.  If you’re not familiar with Aneel, he and Dave Duffield are the guys who led PeopleSoft until the hostile takeover by Oracle in 2004, and then founded Workday, a cloud-based human capital management, payroll, and financials solutions.  These days, they are eating PeopleSoft’s lunch (full disclosure: I’m working on three Workday implementations right now, and all three will replace on-premises PeopleSoft implementations).  Some salient quotes:

“The last 18 months, the cloud has really become mainstream… for the last 18 months, it’s really exploded. We’ve been growing. 2009 we grew (bookings) 50%. 2010 we grew 75%. 2011 we’re going to grow 100%. Our growth’s actually accelerating….Right now we have more demand than we actually know what to do with.”

“…one things people haven’t paid attention to with the cloud is the pace of innovation. We don’t have four or five versions we’re worrying about. You look at PeopleSoft or SAP customer base, they might be on one of four or five versions going all the way back to the year 2000. With the cloud model, everybody’s on the same instance. When a new version comes out, they all go on the same version. We just keep moving customers forward instead of keeping them on old releases. So the development model looks much more like Google or Facebook than it does like SAP or Oracle.”

“…we made a big leap forward around the ease of use — we hired a bunch of consumer Internet developers to really build our UI technologies. The newest big leap is around the iPad. We see a lot of executives carrying around iPads. Generally they don’t get on these enterprise systems, but if you can give them a system that is really built for them — analytics, search, directory, simple transactions — they will use it.”

“We rolled out our iPad offering just a couple months ago and it’s met with an unbelievable reception. So much so that I think in the next couple years, executives, managers, employees, all of whom use HR systems, they will predominantly use the iPad and systems like that to get to Workday. The power users, accounting and HR people will still use a laptop or desktop, but 90% of the people who are not in the HR or accounting department, they will use tablets.”

“[On why Microsoft will soon be the number two tablet vendor] I love my iPad. I think Apple rocks. But I still need Office, and that’s the one thing I can’t get on the iPad. If I could get Office on a tablet I’d throw my laptop away.”

“It’s not just about the cloud versus on premise, it’s that the cloud vendors are taking all the consumer internet technologies and bringing them to the enterprise world, and the old guys are not. So I can do an iPad demo for you now that looks just like a native iPad app. It doesn’t look like an enterprise app. It’s an iPad app … [SAP] spent $5 billion on Sybase, and a year later they still have nothing to show for it. Workday had 5 22-year-old developers building our iPad client. We both had 5. Five billion, five developers.”

Remember when we used to call it “the future?”  Take a long, hard look at your career plan, and ask yourself if you’re history.  If you aren’t up to speed on the cloud, the iPad, “consumer” application design, Agile development and Agile project management, and who’s doing what in Silicon Valley, it’s time to catch up.

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About Dave Gordon

Dave Gordon is a project manager with over twenty five years of experience in implementing human capital management and payroll systems, including SaaS solutions like Workday and premises-based ERP solutions like PeopleSoft and ADP Enterprise. He has an MS in IT with a concentration in project management, and a BS in Business. He also holds the project management professional (PMP) designation, as well as professional designations in human resources and in benefits administration. In addition to his articles and blog posts, he curates a weekly roundup of articles on project management, and he has authored or contributed to several books on project management.