Picture it: the lights dim, the chatter in the audience lowers to an expectant buzz, and the first beats of the 1980s punk band, The Clash’s epic song “Should I stay or should I go” start pumping throughout the auditorium. No, this is not a summer festival. This is an SAP SuccessFactors customer and partner conference. An annual event that takes place in the major cities of the world, and for the EMEA market, the location is a massive conference center in London.

What soon follow the punk beats are flying acrobats and a stage production to rival any Broadway or West End musical.

Yes, SAP SuccessFactors takes conferencing to a totally different level, but that’s because they’re super excited. They’re excited about their increasing global success and want to celebrate with their customers and partners. And, they’re passionate about digital HR transformation.

They’re so passionate about it that they’re Chief Human Resources Officer, Stefan Ries, struts out on stage to deliver his keynote in full punk attire blazing the words “HR Punks”! This is no gimmick, well maybe just a little bit gimmicky, but his whole story is about embracing change as the new normal. All organizations are experiencing it. CHROs are seeing a dramatic shift in HR from delivering transactional excellence to becoming architects of digital transformation.


The new world of work, which AKT has talked about at exhaustion, operates differently, and how work gets done in HR is changing.

HR must deliver “experiences” to prospective new hires and employees that match the best customer experiences.

“We’re calling SuccessConnect 2017 an event for HR punks,” joked Ries. “This is because it’s all about [the famous punk anthem by The Clash] people considering their job and asking: should I stay, or should I go?”


Ries asserts that human work experiences break down at three levels.

  1. In the hiring process, if a person has a bad experience during an interview, then that person talks about a firm on social media afterward so that real and tangible erosion of company brand happens immediately and virally.
  2. In daily operations, if a firm wants to attract employees, it must realize that over half of people (57% according to SAP) leave their jobs because of bad leadership experiences.
  3. In terms of future development, the majority of talented, high-achieving people who leave a company do so because they see a poor development and promotion experience on the road ahead.

“We in HR need to deliver much more people-centric experiences. We now have to treat our employees not as employees, but as consumers,” said Ries. “We have to look at the impact of our actions and examine what their effect is upon those people and examine where we can bring data analytics to bear on our live business decision.

Global trends, generation wide
Of course, the world has changed, and today we know that companies will need to offer all manner of HR services on secure mobile devices anywhere at any time. Without this type of access and attention to detail, any given company will fail to attract the right kind of employee. This truth holds not just for Millennials, but for the even younger Generation Z and the older Generation X. Indeed, even Baby Boomers carry tablets and smartphones; this is a global trend that transcends all demographic cohorts.


Over-elaborate process mapping, it’s about the journey
Process mapping in many organizations are still too over-elaborate and they are neither employee-centric or company-centric at the core. It’s all about the journey actually, not just a systems implementation. SAP SuccessFactors suggests that the architectural structure of HR software has to be able to work to the unpredictable nuances of the ‘human mental model’ and so must be inherently online, mobile (so accessible anywhere) and flexible. We can’t just implement an SAP SuccessFactors module based on an antiquated process, instead we need to look at an organization as going through a digital HR transformational journey.


This isn’t new ‘news’
So for the attending AKT participants (Yoav, Etan, Tahir and Pavel) this wasn’t anything new. We don’t see the need to change any of our business practices or marketing slogans after this event. For some time now, AKT has been one of the few SAP partners who have been pushing the idea that Digital HR goes beyond go-live. So the SuccessConnect event was a strong reinforcement for AKT that our approach, our thinking, our conversations and our marketing are ahead. A senior SAP SuccessFactors leader also publically complimented AKT’s approach and vision and encouraged other SAP partners to follow our model. Flattering yes, but we hope that they don’t catch on too quickly!



Even though AKT is seen as ahead in its approach, we still came out with some learnings. The focus on Digital HR and the employee experience is even stronger today – we need to ensure that all our external conversations keep these messages in mind. And, we need to continue to put greater focus on the end user; the employee is as much our customer as the company itself.

P.S. Did we mention that Sir Richard Branson was one of the keynote speakers at this event? Here’s a comedic outtake from session.



About AKT View

At AKT, we pride ourselves in being technologically innovative and thought leaders. Our blog offers fresh ideas and insights on digital HR from our global experts, to help you keep ahead of the curve.

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