Interview: Pete Schlampp, VP of Analytics at Workday

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I recently spoke with Pete Schlampp, Vice President, Workday Analytics, to discuss how many companies consider themselves data-driven, but if they are relying on legacy systems — with data spread out over multiple sources that can’t and don’t talk to each other — they are not taking full advantage of data. Pete joined Workday as part of the company’s acquisition of Platfora, a move designed to further enable customers to unlock insights across various forms of data while cutting the total cost of ownership for managing business intelligence or data warehouses outside of Workday. Platfora has been woven into the Workday platform as Workday Prism Analytics, and with this offering Workday is enabling customers to perform powerful financial and people analytics with the ability to blend together data that resides in multiple systems.

Daniel D. Gutierrez – Managing Editor, insideBIGDATA

insideBigData: Business leaders know that data is important. They know that they can make better strategic decisions by leveraging the vast amounts of data distributed across silos in the enterprise. But not all companies are doing it—or, at least, they are not doing it very successfully. Why?

Pete Schlampp: Well, you hit the nail on the head when you said “vast amounts of data” that companies already have and that keep building up. This data is stored in multiple different systems that can’t talk to each other. There’s no “single source of truth.” It makes me think of Jack Nicholson’s line: “You can’t handle the truth!” The reality is that companies can handle the truth, they just can’t get to it.

insideBigData: That must be an increasingly big problem, as companies have to work faster and faster—especially when it comes to using data–to remain competitive.

Pete Schlampp: Exactly. Companies have to be able to get access to data in real time. Say Joe in finance has a question about the way the dollars allocated to marketing are impacting demand for their products.. Joe has the marketing data in a spreadsheet but it is not connected to the sales data. Well, the way it works now, Joe has to go to his IT partners and make a request for a report based on the question he has. The IT team—stretched thin as it is—taps into the data sources that it believes will answer Joe’s question and creates a data warehouse. From there a report is generated and delivered to Joe—days or even weeks after he asked the question. By then, the information Joe gets may be outdated or incorrect. At any rate, the information Joe wanted to take advantage of will be old news.

insideBigData: So, what’s the alternative? Most companies today have siloed data. How do you break them down to get to the single source of truth you mentioned?

Pete Schlampp: A lot of companies know that this kind of process just doesn’t work in today’s business environment. Things move too fast for a company to take weeks to answer a question. Some of our largest customers have put together their own analytics teams inside the HR and finance organizations to handle data requests. However, while this solves the issue of having to go to IT to pull information, it creates another challenge: Each team has to run a complex patchwork of software that is strung together to answer questions. In this model a simple query takes way too long to answer.

insideBigData: There’s still no “single source of truth.”

Pete Schlampp: Right. The hardest part of leading a data-driven strategy is getting to a reliable, single source of truth that can give you information from multiple data sources in real time. That’s really what we are working to deliver with Workday Prism Analytics. Workday already has some of the most important data in the company as the system of record for people and financials, but now we’re extending it to allow you to bring in data from across the enterprise into a single cloud platform. The best part is that users can ask questions and get answers themselves, speeding time to decisions.

insideBigData: So, a self-service model.

Pete Schlampp: Right. That’s the other side of the coin. Workday Prism Analytics layers self-service data prep and data discovery technologies from Platfora’s modern analytics solutions into Workday’s technology platform. So, data analytics isn’t just for data scientists anymore–it’s truly the democratization of data.


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