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SAP Embarks On a New Era of Human Experience Management

Jill Popelka

We are living in the ‘age of experience’ where organizations are striving to deliver exceptional customer experience or employee experience to drive strategic business decisions. SAP SuccessFactors has always recognized the importance of human resource management (HCM). But now, the company believes that just meeting employee expectations is not sufficient. It is now time to evolve HCM to what can be called human Experience Management (HXM). The company has gone one step ahead to roll out its HXM suite in September this year. In other words, SAP is slowly shifting from its earlier focus on HCM, stating that HXM is here to stay in the digital age., In a recent conversation with CXOToday, Jill Popelka, COO, SAPSuccessFactors touched upon some key aspects of HXM, importance of employee experience, how the company is planning to reposition itself in the market with its new business interest in 2020.

CXOToday: What is HXM and what triggered SAP to come up with HXM?

Jill Popelka: HXM is a huge category change for us as we move away from Human capital management (HCM). The change came because of the demands from the customers for a unique experience. Hence, now, our focus is on creating a true experience for the customers that help them connect with their corporate entity and find their true inspiration and purpose. We needed this to help businesses work towards achieving their purpose. A great example would be establishing the Digital Candidate Experience. When we are creating this experience, we are looking at various processes. We are looking at thinking about HR other than our model- from onboarding to evaluating the true experience of the employees. For example: If a new employee requests for a laptop, we gather real time data to find out how his/her experience was, how easy the process was and how much time it took to receive the laptop, and as per the feedback, making improvements for an enriched experience.

Another example is when we create an experience, we deal with multiple processes as we string together recruiting, onboarding and leveraging Qualtrics to understand their improvement to get real time feedback, data and get insights on how to make it better.

CXOToday: How will it impact employee experience?

Jill Popelka: Learning has taken different forms and people have to go to so many different platforms. It tends to get overwhelming at times. With HXM, we are trying to understand the goals of our employees, and their learning objectives. We, then, feed the same into our learning solution and recommend to each of our employees’, take feedback from them and incorporate that into the evolution of the process. This helps us design a tailored program.

CXOToday: What are your views on workplace health leading to better productivity and how are you propelling the same?

Jill Popelka: We truly believe that by increasing the focus on wellbeing of the employee, you can increase the productivity of a company by at least seventeen percent. Our new conversational AI user experience helps us keep a check on the wellbeing of the employees. For example:  if an employee hasn’t taken any leave, we automatically send them a reminder asking them to consider taking a little time off. We have also partnered with companies to embed their research and look at what’s best for the employees like exercise or recreation. We are constantly creating opportunities for the companies to encourage the employees for taking ownership of their own wellbeing.

CXOToday: What are the ingredients of a successful employee program?

Jill Popelka: It is very clear to define measurable goals and objectives. One of the most important ways is to create goals, not just around the adoption of the program but also around the sentiment. The employee’s voice has to be heard and that’s what Qualtrics does for us. We also check the employee’s sentiment again at the end of the initiative to truly understand if we are impacting the mind-set of the employee in the right manner or not.

CXOToday: How is SAP contributing to workplace diversity and what is the role of top management in the same?

Jill Popelka: We are focusing on three major areas:

  • Eliminating unconscious bias and removing differences like assigning gender based roles with the help of Machine Learning.
  • Following pre-emptive learning as it identifies where the bias is.
  • Removing bias from learning and policies in the organization.

We believe the top management has a great role to play in creating a safe and smart workplace. Towards this end, we have constantly been encouraging open conversations to hear from our employees about what makes them safe/unsafe as we believe open dialogue is a must. We have a program where we can engage with different groups and make them feel included. We run this program inclusively with the help of local corporates. At the same time, we are promoting inclusive workplace as we have found that it creates better results.

CXOToday: Do you think HXM, though initially meant for the employees, will ultimately turn towards the creation of a better customer base?

Jill Popelka: We sincerely believe that by creating a better employee experience, you create a better customer experience. Volkswagen has an initiative around connecting employees with the customers by combining their CXM and EXM models. It is a diligent approach. Qualtrics has both the models and we are looking at tying and creating an intelligent link between customer as well as employee feedback.

CXOToday: What are the key trends you observe in the workplace in 2020? Can you highlight your business priorities this year?

Jill Popelka: We observe several interesting trends in human management in the next one year – employee experience, being a vital one. Other trends include: well being at work, diversity and inclusion, greater ownership among managers and improved compensation that includes not just promotion but perhaps transfer to a different role or geography.

As far as SAP SuccessFactors is concerned, we are very excited on our forthcoming releases HXM solutions. In 2020, our three focus areas include qualtrics, conversational AI and improving on-boarding solutions, making it a detailed and automated process.

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