LAS VEGAS – Have you seen a new hire come in on their first day only to discover they don’t have a place to sit, a phone to use, or any inkling of what exactly they should be doing? It’s an all-too-familiar occurrence that SAP says it can fix with its new Intelligent Services in SuccessFactors.

At the annual SuccessConnect conference, for users of SAP’s human resources cloud software suite, the vendor announced a new set of services backed by machine learning that will help HR managers better cope with changes to their staff. Whether it’s planning for how the work will be covered for a leave of absence, what has to be done when a new hire is made, or relocating an employee, the idea is that a set of rules and automated processes can replace manual tasks done by staff. The promised benefit is less reliance on shared services or outsourcing resources, and therefore reduced costs.

“The notion of shared services and service delivery for HR, we’re turning it upside down and shaking it really hard,” says Mark Brandau, vice-president of solution management at SuccessFactors. “There’s no one that does this today. The only way it happens is with manual service providers and employees.”

Demoed on stage by Dmitri Krakovsky, senior vice-president of global product management at SAP, the first release of Intelligent Services will include 16 specific service types that come pre-configured. Users will access the feature using SuccessFactor’s Event Centre. The first service types include:

  • Becoming a manager
  • Leave of absence
  • Hire
  • Termination
  • Change in employee information
  • Change in job information

HR users will be able to program the rules engine to set up triggers and events without coding help from IT, Krakovsky says. Examples of events that could be triggered include recommending a learning module to an employee once they’ve relocated, or suggesting they join a specific social group on the company network.

More than that, the Intelligent Services will learn what transactions commonly happen as the result of a change made in SuccessFactors and predict what next steps a user might have to take as a result. In some cases, the actions could be taken automatically.

With Intelligent Services, SAP may be creating a competitive advantage for itself by offering something that other HCM suites don’t provide, says Holger Mueller, principal analyst at Constellation Research.

“They have the first mover advantage, if you’re only a talent management vendor, this is harder for you to do,” he says. “Bringing it all together and making it easier is really powerful, but it has to work.”

SAP hinted that this is only the debut of machine learning in its software lineup and there’s more to come.

“We started this with ‘let’s solve the problems for HR first and we’ll spin out from there’,” Krakovsky says.

Expect to see more intelligence in SAP’s software in the next five years, Brandau chimes in. “The notion of predictive elements to help us do the things we do.”

SAP says the Intelligent Services will begin rolling out to users of Employee Central this month and will be fully deployed with the Q3 release.


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