Workday seeks to move beyond providing cloud-based tools for managing human and financial capital, as the Pleasanton, Calif., vendor is now offering users insights from analytics and machine learning.

Workday Insights Applications is a suite of software tools designed to turn a business' data into actionable game plans, offering recommendations akin to Amazon's products suggestions and Facebook's targeted advertising. The analytics tools will be fused with Workday's human capital and financial management software.

If a hardworking employee's career is leading him or her away from organizational goals, Workday Insights can recommend an internal pathway of advancement to keep the staffer on track and on board. If a group of employees are heading into a company trip filled with temptations, the analytics software can recommend ways to keep them from abusing the organization's expenses.

The more data a company feeds into Workday Insights Applications, the better the software will be at making recommendations specific to the organization. As the analytics software takes on new data, it begins to look for new trends.

Enterprise organizations want analytics software to deliver an experience much like the recommendations delivered from e-commerce sites and Netflix, according to Workday CEO Aneel Bhusri.

"With Workday Insight Applications, we're placing that level of simplicity, accuracy, and value in the hands of our customers," says Bhusri.

While charts and other graphic data are necessary, the most valuable analytics is often more discrete, says Dan Beck, vice president of technology products. Beck says Workday Insights Analytics sets itself apart from other analytics software by the actionable information it provides.

"Our belief is that you can't get to recommendations without knowing the context of the user: each one's role, security rights, and even the decisions he or she faces," says Beck. "Workday has all of this user context already."

When it finally launches in 2015, Workday Insights Applications will enter a market where storied technology firms have been attempting to establish themselves. One such competitor, IBM, is still struggling to generate significant revenue from a similar new business tied to the analytics and machine learning abilities of supercomputer Watson.

While data science is nothing new, analytics of Big Data is helping companies make more sense of information being collected every day. The growing data flow is incubating a new breed of enterprise software, says Ray Wang, founder of Constellation Research Inc.

"The goal is to optimize business outcomes by finding patterns of insight in data," says Wang. "This ultimately should inform predictions and recommendations that decision-makers can act on within an application."

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