Integration vs. Customization
One area where Workday fails to entirely satisfy customer demand is customization. Once the bugbear of on-demand systems because of the multitenant architecture of SAAS (software as a service), Salesforce.com developed Apex as a Java-like programming language that gives Salesforce enough control over individual customizations to ensure that a given customization doesn't break the entire application. At present, Workday doesn't offer anything like this. Instead, it has broken the application down into discrete workflow process pieces, called the Business Process Framework, which customers can cobble together. Bhusri said this gets them 85 to 90 percent of the way toward the customization they need, a trade-off he said they're willing to make because of the other benefits of the application framework.SAAS vendors like to claim that they have to earn their money every month, and that because they're just providing a service, there's no vendor lock-in. Well, I've had plenty of customers tell me that's not true-there's far too much pain involved in backing out of a big SAAS deal. But Bhusri told me that Workday has a built-in incentive to keep customers happy. It gets paid by the year-not the month-and not only does it not earn a return on its investment with the customer until the fourth year of the contract, but customers will pay more per seat in the later years of the contract. In other words, Workday has every interest in keeping its customers happy enough to stick around for the later years of the contract.
Would Workday create something like Apex to allow full customization? "We could go to that down the road," he said. But for the time being, integration will have to do as a substitute for full customization.