Global CIO: Wal-Mart Picks SuccessFactors For Largest Enterprise Deal Ever

A 300,000-seat trial turns into a 2.1M-seat global deal as SuccessFactors' business-execution strategy continues to resonate.

Bob Evans, Contributor

May 4, 2010

4 Min Read

After evaluating dozens of social-software companies and technologies in the past year, Dalgaard decided to go acquire CubeTree, which SuccessFactors described as "the only comprehensive Enterprise Purpose Built Social Software application, 100% Cloud, that will be key to unlocking business productivity and getting real work done every day in organizations of any type, anywhere, starting with our 8 million unique seats."

Dalgaard said he began his in-depth search for the right social technology a year ago. "We looked at every single social software and collaboration company out there that did something for the enterprise with a consumer look and feel and that was fun to use but that also was built with a very specific business purpose and the people we were most excited about and impressed with was CubeTree," Dalgaard said in our phone conversation.

"We talked some and eventually I decided to ask if we can merge and do these things together, and [CubeTree CEO and cofounder] Carlin Wiegner and I agreed we have a shared vision that's extremely important for both of us so we're all very excited about this opportunity."

The opportunity is now Dalgaard's to lose—with the massive Wal-Mart deal along with the battle-tested Siemens deployment, SuccessFactors has achieved a level of customer adoption that most smaller software companies can only dream about. But that type of success brings with it a lot of attention, scrutiny, and no doubt competition, so SuccessFactors needs to stay very hungry and very humble. Some potential trouble spots for the company:

1) High ambitions are a great thing, but only if the company raising them shows that it can not just meet but also exceed those ambitions. Doing what it's done before will no longer be good enough for SuccessFactors.

2) Surviving and thriving at high altitudes: When SuccessFactors won the Siemens deal early last year, Dalgaard emphasized how the company would need to intensify its focus as it moved into new areas of scale it had never been in before. The Wal-Mart deal is now five times bigger than that huge Siemens deal, so the challenge of doing phenomenal work in rarified air is correspondingly bigger as well.

3) Growing and digesting simultaneously: Can Dalgaard and his team manage all of these high-velocity efforts at the same time? The company acquired Inform a few months ago and is now assimilating CubeTree as it takes on its largest customer ever and continues to be extremely aggressive on other fronts as well. As I mentioned above, shooting for the moon is a great thing—but the margin for error is miniscule.

4) Competition/acquisition: You can't snag huge deals and expect to stay under the radar, and the Wal-Mart deal doesn't just put SuccessFactors on the enterprise-software map—it will very likely put the company at the center of the bullseye for industry giants such as Oracle and SAP. SuccessFactors will need to prevent all that from becoming a distraction because its intense customer focus is the precise reason why it's been so successful to date.

Because, as the effervescent Dalgaard loves to say, "The customer must win."

Bob Evans is senior VP and director of InformationWeek's Global CIO unit.

To find out more about Bob Evans, please visit his page.

For more Global CIO perspectives, check out Global CIO, or write to Bob at [email protected].

Recommended Reading: Global CIO: SuccessFactors Is The Future Of Business Software Global CIO: Cloud Computing's Deadly Vulnerability And How To Avoid It Global CIO: CEO Benioff On Beating SAP And Microsoft In The Cloud Global CIO: IBM Took 'Goldmine Of Taxpayer Money,' Claims Bureaucrat Global CIO: Inside SAP: 10 Factors Behind Its Dramatic Turnaround Global CIO: The Top 10 CIO Issues For 2010

About the Author(s)

Bob Evans


Bob Evans is senior VP, communications, for Oracle Corp. He is a former InformationWeek editor.

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