Located: San Mateo, California
Market: On-Demand Performance and Talent Management
Products: Goal Management
Key Customers: Advo, Allianz SE, Cadbury Schweppes, Hilton, Kimberly-Clark, Gen-Probe, PETCO, and Rexel
Podcast: People Performance Radio – US Edition
I asked Lars Dalgaard, SuccessFactors’ Chief Executive Officer a few questions about his business and his view of the SaaS market in 2009.
Did you start out as a Software-as-a-Service company?
Absolutely. Since the beginning, we built SuccessFactors as an on-demand platform in the cloud from the ground up. The underlying technology platform is called the SuccessFactors Web Component Engine, and it’s the basis for all SuccessFactors’ applications. The Web Component Engine was built on a multi-tenant architecture with a single-code base incorporating expertise gained from working with more than 2,600 customers worldwide. The platform includes a set of reusable technology components such as a business process template designer, workflow engine and data permission model. It’s the foundation of SuccessFactors’ Performance and Talent Management Suite and enables us to quickly innovate and create new applications to drive business performance for our customers.
Why do your customers buy from SuccessFactors?
By using the latest research, the smartest technology, and the most secure systems on the planet, SuccessFactors works every day to help companies achieve tangible and measurable results, lower costs, and align their organizations.
Since day one, SuccessFactors has been focused on customer success and our on-demand platform helps us do this quickly – getting customer-driven product evolution and frequent enhancements up-and-running when they need it. We also deliver innovative, customer-driven new features on an iterative monthly basis, allowing customers to continuously increase the value they receive from us.
By listening to what our customers want and then taking action immediately to deliver what they need, we’re providing the ultimate level of customer service while providing fun, easy-to-use, user-centric software that creates real business value for our customers and encourages better adoption companywide.
What do you see as the key trend emerging in the SaaS industry?
• It’s going to accelerate. Hard economic times force innovation and companies are keeping a close eye on the bottom line, so this is going to speed up the pace that companies adopt lower cost of deployment SaaS offerings, delivered via Cloud Computing
• SaaS and Cloud Computing will continue to innovate and be easier to use. We are going to see more companies making SaaS as easy to use as Google, Amazon and a slew of other consumer applications and Web sites. Driving adoption and everyday usage will continue to be very important.
• Customer service is HUGE. Today companies care most about doing more with less and keeping their existing customers DELIGHTED. They had to do this before but now it’s critical – they can’t afford to lose customers. We interact and work closely with our customers on a daily basis – a paradigm shift from the legacy, on premise software sales model of selling multi-million dollar license deals and then reengaging the customer five years later. Companies with lots of customers and smart strategies are pouring everything into keeping customers DELIGHTED and the SaaS model makes the product more relevant, flexible, and scalable to the customers’ needs.
What is your outlook for 2009?
Our customers are putting increased focus on their top talent and high performers to make sure these people are motivated and engaged – a critical strategy during today’s economic downturn. SuccessFactors is giving them the tools to really hone in on who’s doing great work, while also providing the clarity to help them make tough business decisions. The War for talent has not ended. A company’s top performers are still being targeted by competition.
There has been a lot of discussion about the strength and resilience of the SaaS model during uncertain economic times. We get that. But what is more crucial is that companies really need to focus on energizing, retaining and keeping their best people motivated. It’s not a ”nice to have,” it’s a must have. Currently, companies are spending about 70 percent of operating expenses on their people. Companies need to be ahead of the curve, and SuccessFactors helps provide ways to make better business decisions in today’s tough economy.
Thank you to Lars Dalgaard and Jennifer Gazin for contributing to this profile.