Serving Education and Training Markets Since 2006

SAP acquires SuccessFactors – Enterprise Education Platform trend evidence.. What will Oracle do?

In 2010 the Gilfus Education Group predicted the “Combination of academic and administrative functionality into a more cohesive experience” and for 2012 “Major advancements in academic analytics capabilities that elevate eLearning intelligence”. Each of these predictions are based on intensive research and foresight into the education market. In addition the team released an industry leading whitepaper the Enterprise Education Platform that proposed the combination of administrative and academic capability could reduce the costs of fragmentation and lead to an intelligent learning platform far beyond today’s capabilities.

On many of the Gilfus Education Group maturity curves we see professional education and talent management ahead of the traditional academic and education marketplaces. It is for this reason that we are not surprised that the corporate learning/training/talent market has taken its first step into reaching the holly grail of analytics by executing against such a strategy. The combination as laid out by the EEP could be the example that academia is looking for in creating high performance learning organizations.


Top 10 Reasons for SAP Acquisition from SuccessFactors CEO Lars Dalgaard

Bob Evans, SAP

Lars Dalgaard packs all the subtlety of a Jolt-juiced mosh pit.

So it’s worth hearing in his own deeply passionate words why, after 10 years of intensely hands-on leadership at SuccessFactors, he’s agreed to have SAP acquire the company he created. (For the full story behind the acquisition, please see SAP Seeds the Cloud with Blockbuster SuccessFactors Deal and Can SAP and SuccessFactors Crack the DNA Code?)

That creation, according to a recent profile of Dalgaard, reveals not just a classic entrepreneurial drive but also Dalgaard’s willingness to attack in unique ways some challenges that most others would have dismissed.

“Back in 2001, Lars Dalgaard was a recent graduate of Stanford’s Sloane management program looking for a technology business to run,” the article says. “Amid the chaos of the dot-com bust, he acquired the assets of two failed startups and relaunched them as an online business software company called SuccessFactors. . . .

“Dalgaard said he launched SuccessFactors by assembling assets from more than one company — and in one case taking on $3 million in debt — raising venture capital and then lining up $1 million worth of sales in three months.”

Sounds like a fiercely independent individual. And SuccessFactors’ growth rate and solid financial standing gave Dalgaard the ability to keep the company independent for a long time to come.

So, why agree to be acquired? Why now? And why SAP?

Here are 10 comments made by Dalgaard over the past several days since the deal was announced that I’ve selected and ranked in ascending order, from #10 to #1. Individually as well as collectively, they reveal Dalgaard’s belief that SAP offered him and SuccessFactors the best possible opportunity to achieve on the broadest possible scale the mantra Dalgaard holds most dear: “The customer must win.”

#10) Help Create Better Society. “Our mission is to improve how every company in the world gets work done, and drive people’s love for their work back into their heart. We believe that will drive a better society in general when people come home from work happy and fired-up: better dads, better moms, better brothers, better everything. And we just got the biggest turbo-boost for that mission.”

#9) Most Products Per Customer. “We believe that’s the most enterprise paying users of any business cloud application company. Any. But SuccessFactors has not only found a way to operate the cloud for the largest companies, we’ve also implemented more products by customer, on average, than any other cloud company. Which is, of course, extremely relevant for this combination.”

#8) Acceleration Through Combination. “This ability to scale to any size company in the cloud—building, selling, and deploying multiple products, is the DNA with which we will accelerate SuccessFactors’ core and all of SAP’s very, very impressive cloud assets from their deep heritage, 40 years of driving business-applications excellence at 170,000 companies worldwide: that’s 2-1/2 times the #2 player.”

#7) Transform Business-Software Market. “With SAP, we and our employees and our partners have the opportunity to transform the business-software market to deliver the power of the cloud to customers all over the world and create new innovations that customers and users are going to love.”

#6) Incredible Customer Innovation. “Expanding relationships with SAP’s 176,000 customers with our speed to value, friendly user interface, on mobile devices and the web, and seamlessly delivering more SAP solutions in the cloud will be legendary, as organizations adopt the cloud to improve their business.  . . .  The business world is ready for enterprise-class cloud applications and together, we can deliver incredible new innovation for global businesses.”

#5) Size and Scale—Plus Beauty. “What’s different about this cloud company is that we have 15 million paying users. Nobody else comes close—it’s a multiple of 5 over the #2. Not only that, but this is ideal for SAP. Why? Because SAP is the company that has the most intellectual property and the most applications for the last 40 years since Hasso Plattner started this company. We can take all of that IP and put it on our platform and we can compete in every market—and even more exciting, compete in markets that never existed before! Create incredibly lightweight, beautiful applications—more beautiful than the iPad—for all users, everywhere in the world.”

#4) Shared Cloud Vision. “I’ve had the opportunity to spend some serious time with the SAP senior management team, and including Hasso Plattner, the founder—40 years ago, founded this amazing company. They share our cloud vision, they have a similar culture of excellence and customer-centricity, and they have a shared vision for how big and disruptive this opportunity really is.”

#3) Massive Business Value. “There’s nobody who really understands unless you’ve been an SAP customer how incredibly valuable they [SAP] are to the whole business-value chain. These are the people who make planes land. These are the people who, when you go to the hospital, you rely on their software to make things work. They’re hearts-and-lungs people, and also fun mobile apps that make you go to work and have fun at work or wherever you might be in the field—that’s what they can do.”

#2) Cloud Revolution Is Here. “People want cloud for all their mobile devices and web, and we’ve been doing this as one of the first for 10 years, and the cloud revolution is only just hitting its tipping point. Now is the time to take this game to the next level—with SAP, we can bring the incredible value of enterprise cloud applications to all businesses, everywhere. We feel like we’re able to shorten our total roadmap at SuccessFactors by 10 years!”

#1) Massive Opportunities. “I see an opportunity in mobile, I see an opportunity in social, I see an opportunity to completely annihilate the way we thought about applications in history, and look at the way for the future to work together and love work again and if people have fun at work, you know what? They have fun when they go home with their friends, their families, their spouses, their partners, and we will help that around the globe.”


Talent Data Combined with Enterprise Performance Data
SAP tracks performance data on all levels, SuccessFactors tracks talent performance. This combination could be the Holy Grail CEOs have been looking for, as SAP will inevitably make it possible to combine SuccessFactors data with their enterprise performance data.

Perhaps this is the real reason (or at least an additional reason) SAP acquired SuccessFactors?

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