Workday Laughs Its SaaS Off In Viral Videos - InformationWeek

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5/8/2008
11:32 AM
Alexander Wolfe
Alexander Wolfe
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Workday Laughs Its SaaS Off In Viral Videos

Viral marketing is moving into areas you'd never have thought. Take software-as-a-service, where upstart Workday, a company formed in 2005 by PeopleSoft founder and ex-CEO Dave Duffield, is posting up on YouTube a series of short videos -- OK, they're commercials -- which poke virtual fingers in the eyes of industry powerhouse SAP.

Viral marketing is moving into areas you'd never have thought. Take software-as-a-service, where upstart Workday, a company formed in 2005 by PeopleSoft founder and ex-CEO Dave Duffield, is posting up on YouTube a series of short videos -- OK, they're commercials -- which poke virtual fingers in the eyes of industry powerhouse SAP.One of Workday's selling points is that the on-demand SaaS model is more flexible than traditional hosted apps. It's also promoted as a less-expensive way to handle payroll, ERP, business intelligence; stuff like that. Since I'm addressing the marketing aspects in this post, if you want to dive into the tech and market aspects, I commend you to the deep expertise of my colleague Mary Hayes Weier. Here's her succinct explanation of the differing approaches of Microsoft, Salesforce.com, SAP, and Workday:

"SAP's strategy is somewhat similar to Microsoft's software + services strategy, broadly defined as the idea that on-demand software and on-site software are not exclusive of each other, and often work best when used together. It's a different approach than pure-play SaaS vendors such as Salesforce.com and Workday, which preach that conventional, licensed-based software is reaching the end of its life span."

OK, so back to the viral vids. The two I'm posting immediately below share a lot in common with the wildly popular Apple ads, where a hapless Bill Gates stand-in (actor John Workman) vies with unctuous Mac dude, to the surprising detriment of the latter. (You'd think Apple wouldn't want you to come away from the commercials hating their guy, but who am I to argue with Steve Jobs's marketing genius?)

What Workday is trying to do in its videos is to stick it to SAP, by contrasting its on-demand approach with what it claims is the more bloated model of hosted ERP software. These videos have fairly low production values, but they definitely seem to be effective as a way of getting one's message out. In the pulling-one's-punches department, let me stress again that I'm not taking any position on who's software is better, and again I recommend that you read Mary's article for some serious perspective on the software issues at hand.

Here (finally) are the two Workday videos:

Of course, when it comes to viral videos, if you want a really edgy example, nothing fits that bill better than the too-coy-by-half Serena 'Bleep' video. Somehow, sly sexual allusions never get old to the YouTube audience, judging by the nearly 1.2 million views this one has already chalked up. (Serena, by the way, is the company, not the girl.)

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