Workday Channel Initiative Offers Development Partners New Go-To-Market Route

The new Built on Workday program offers the cloud software company’s ISV and development partners the opportunity to more widely sell through the Workday marketplace the applications and add-on software they build for the Workday platform.

Cloud software provider Workday has launched a program to help ISV and software development partners market and sell applications and software add-ons they have built for the Workday platform.

The new Built on Workday initiative is part of the company’s efforts to extend its engagement with the channel beyond the systems integration and service providers Workday has traditionally worked with to include more development and go-to-market partners, Matthew Brandt, Workday senior vice president of global partners, told CRN in an interview.

The initiative is also emblematic of Workday’s own ongoing evolution beyond its human resource, payroll and financial management software-as-a-service applications.

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“We’re transitioning Workday from a provider of core applications to a platform provider,” Brandt (pictured) said. “And in order to do that, it requires us to build a really robust, scalable, global set of channel partners – a variety of types.”

Workday, founded in 2005 and headquartered in Pleasanton, Calif., was a pioneer in the software-as-a-service arena with its cloud-based HR software. Today the Workday applications are run by more than 10,000 organizations with over 65 million users. The company, with revenue of $7.3 billion in 2023, competes against SAP, Oracle, Microsoft and other enterprise application rivals.

Carl Eschenbach took over as Workday’s sole CEO on Jan. 31 after serving as co-CEO for more than a year with company co-founder and chairman Aneel Bhusri. (Eschenbach was president and COO at virtualization giant VMware between 2002 and 2016.)

Workday has long worked with systems integrators and strategic service companies that provide consulting, implementation and integration services around Workday applications. The company’s partner roster includes Accenture, Cognizant, Deloitte and Grant Thornton. The company also works with managed service providers, such as Allegis Global Solutions and NextSource, as well as referral and co-sell partners.

But Workday also works with what the company calls “innovation partners,” many with expertise in specific vertical industries or particular domains like payroll management, who develop applications that run on or extend Workday’s multi-tenant HR, payroll and financial management applications.

Some of the add-on products come from ISVs that develop Workday-based applications, Brandt said, while systems integrators and service providers develop custom add-ons for clients that can be sold to other Workday customers. Brandt, by way of example, cited the case of a partner that has developed a document management tool that works with the Workday HR application.

But in all these cases partners are largely selling their wares on a customer-by-customer basis in the general marketplace.

The new Built on Workday program is intended to provide additional go-to-market capabilities and incentives for those innovation partners and to grow the company’s overall channel presence.

“Over the course of the last year, we're moving extraordinarily quickly as a business in transforming under Carl Eschenbach’s leadership and embracing and opening up our partner ecosystem in ways that we just haven't done before,” Brandt said. “I'd say this is one of the biggest partner channel investments that we've ever made.”

Until now most innovation around the Workday applications has come from the company’s own development work. The new program will help Workday better harness its partners’ innovation capabilities.

“We want to include our innovation partners to help extend our innovation capabilities on a global basis, so that we can meet the needs of our customers more holistically than we can with Workday’s core development capability,” Brandt said.

Built on Workday, unveiled at this week’s Workday DevCon 2024 event in Las Vegas, will enable partners to more easily build, centrally manage and market trusted finance and HR management applications that extend the Workday platform.

The initiative offers partners the ability to sell, license and monetize their products through a newly created “storefront” within the online Workday Marketplace the company established last year. That will provide partners with a “build once, distribute to many” sales and distribution approach that the company says accelerates revenue without scaling costs.

Partners “can build applications, and now have the ability to take those applications and distribute them globally to all of these customers – the 65 million plus users, 10,000 customers – they can build once and distribute many times, really, in the same way that we distribute our capabilities…[and] go to market for our entire customer base,” Brandt said.

Partners can also provide product updates through the Marketplace rather than having to update customer implementations on an individual basis.

The channel executive noted that many development partners are smaller, entrepreneurial companies with a focus on technology and development – and so have limited go-to-market, sales and distribution resources. “On a global basis, it just changes the equation for our partners,” Brandt said. (Workday already provides a range of joint go-to-market and sales resources for partners including full co-sell opportunities with Workday’s own salesforce, he added.)

“We now have the ability for our partners to innovate one time, to own their intellectual property and then to distribute that intellectual property the same way that we distribute our capabilities. [They can] list their applications on the Workday Marketplace so all customers on a global basis can find them. We think this is a game changer for how we go to market with our partners,” Brandt said.

"Our collaboration with Workday is a testament to our shared commitment to innovation and customer value," said Claudio Valera, Workday alliance leader, at PwC U.S., in a statement. "Tools like Built on Workday, combined with our deep industry expertise, will help us create tailored solutions to meet our clients' unique needs and help them realize their potential.”

Built on Workday is slated to be available to select early adopter partners later this month with more partners added through the second half of 2024.

Workday said the program is also expected to make it easier for customers to find and buy Workday extension products for finance, HR, planning, payroll, skills transformation, workforce management and spend management, as well as industry-specific solutions in financial services, healthcare, higher education, public sector, retail and more. (Customers also have the option to develop their own extensions using the Workday Extend low- and no-code development tools.)