Ceridian Insights - drilling down on the latest product announcements
- HRMS & Payroll vendor Ceridian had a newsworthy user conference last week in Las Vegas. Here are some of the highlights.
Ceridian’s annual user conference was chock full of product announcements. The product line continues to grow and so does the vendor’s global footprint. What follows is just a taste of the most recent news.
Ceridian has experienced material growth in recent years even while dealing with a pandemic. Management noted:
- Total customer count now exceeds 5,800. This is in contrast to approximately 4,000 total customers in 2019.
- The company now has 170+ partners. This was easily verified just by looking at the scores of conference sponsors.
- The company’s flagship product, Dayforce, has grown 32% YoY. Dayforce is a cloud HCM solution.
- Total annual revenues for the company are now $1.024 billion (2021). Revenues in 2019 were $824 million.
- The software now supports 57 countries with active payroll. Interestingly, Dayforce is running in 163 countries. This leads me to conclude that some customers are implementing Dayforce and utilizing local country payroll solutions. That’s actually a common phenomenon with many HRMS solutions. Ceridian also stated that implementations are currently underway in 105 countries.
- Net customer retention now stands at 106.5%. This represents, I believe, retention of past year’s customers as well as those customers adding more Ceridian modules to their subscriptions
- 38% of customers are running the full Dayforce HCM suite.
- NPS (net promoter score) for support re: Dayforce has improved 41% (I didn’t get further details on this). Ceridian did state that they’ve seen a 23% reduction in the number of service tickets for its products.
Diversity, Equality & Inclusion
Ceridian self-reported its internal DEI statistics, reporting that 50% of the workforce is made up of women, with less than one percent pay disparity between men and women. It’s great to see a software vendor live the values and technology they sell. No other data was provided on other dimensions (e.g., age, nationality, etc.).
The (numerous) product announcements
Ceridian product enhancements are driven by new regulatory requirements, global expansion needs, the use of advanced technologies (e.g., machine learning) and other factors. The company seems to have themes in its new releases though. In 2019, the firm was very focused on improving the ways that employees and managers interacted with the software. In 2020, the theme was around the enhancement of talent and talent development technologies. This year, data factored largely in the enhancements.
Ceridian made over 840 new product enhancements over the last year. I cannot document them all but here are some that stood out to me.
This upcoming capability will offer live personalized news feeds on compliance/regulatory matters. Given the importance that Ceridian places on compliance support, this seems to be of value to Ceridian and customers alike.
Ceridian has made some acquisitions recently that provide the firm with local, in-country payroll processing capabilities. Several of these are now part of the company’s support for 57 native country payrolls. Ceridian indicated that they are providing an ‘operating system of trust’ for customers instead of the ‘system of record’ that competitors offer.
This is actually a big deal for clients of mine. They want the same level of payroll support for all countries they operate within and not just for their headquarters location. Payroll customers want one customer service center to contact with all questions/issues and not to have to navigate through a labyrinth of different, local in-country payroll service providers. It’s not just that they want one-throat-to-choke, they want 24-hour expert access as problems could be surfacing in locales far from headquarters. These companies also want one data model, consistent data meanings, a single data warehouse, and global pay analytics. They do not want dozens of different, dissimilar data stores and reports. Businesses want more than a system of record for every country they operate within. They want one system for everything.
Ceridian showcased a number of data visualization capabilities, many of which were powered by Microsoft’s PowerBI toolset. These tools are:
- Tightly integrated to/from Dayforce and retain Dayforce’s access/security rules.
- Part of the Dayforce suite. Customers don’t need a PowerBI license from Microsoft as Ceridian’s embedding it within their suite.
- Capable of connecting to a customer’s own data warehouse. Customers can also export Dayforce data to their own local data warehouse to do their own analyses. A Dayforce connector facilitates this capability.
Ceridian also provides a ‘Report Marketplace’. This allows users to use/share reports they or others have built. These reports can then be tailored to a new user very quickly as much of the report development work has already been completed.
One observation regarding these reports is that they didn’t appear all that ‘smart’ or aware, however Dayforce does provide intelligent nudges that alert users to take action to address emerging changes in key indicators as soon as they fall outside expected norms. For example, these reports did not appear to possess pre-supplied anomaly detection logic, although they did provide visual drill-down/slicer capability. Likewise, if anomalous data were detected, there was no evidence that this occurrence would trigger exception handling and workflow driven follow-on activities. In essence, users could get great, highly visual reports but the assessment as to what these reports were showing was left to the user to interpret.
What this capability appears to be is a system of intelligence layered upon a suite that contains all kinds of HRMS data and other customer-specific data. For example, customers can load survey results (e.g., engagement data), job/talent profiles, and more into this repository.
This repository is key to running analytics (like the skills inference tool below) and to better understanding one’s workforce.
I thought this concept was interesting. One Ceridian speaker described how so much work has gone into helping large numbers of employees acquire a better employee experience, but most vendors have ignored the experience issues that executives, business unit leaders, functional leaders, etc. face. I think he was onto something.
Managers and executives are often dealing with different sides of the same coin and need tools that reflect those very different perspectives. For example, if an HRMS vendor makes it easy for employees to schedule work hours on their smartphone, a manager might want different screens to show which shifts are under/overstaffed and whether the employee is moving into an overtime situation.
This tool also helps executives/managers align their KPIs and track their very-specific job performance metrics.
Ceridian showed a number of capabilities that help customers understand the skills that new hires, existing employees, etc. possess. This capability has a skills ontology and other logic to review an employee’s master data and infer what skills the person likely possesses. The software reads a person’s HR records (e.g., performance reviews, resume, transcript, etc.) and helps deduce what skills a person likely possesses.
This is a hot area in HR software currently and other vendors are rolling out similar tools. I suspect this kind of capability is red-hot currently due to the inability of firms to find enough skilled resources on the job market. In that labor scarcity scenario, companies have no choice but to look inwardly to find those people who might need to be repositioned into more critical roles. The problem many firms possess is that they don’t really know what their people are capable of doing. They lack a skills inventory.
But, there are other uses for this skills data, too. An employee or supervisor might want some insight as to what’s required (skill-wise) to get promoted. This information could be quite helpful in a mentoring or performance management discussion. If HRMS software knew which skills a person possessed and what skills are required to competently perform another position, then better training plans, succession plans, and career paths could be plotted. Ceridian’s Dayforce Career Explorer is helping with this need.
Ceridian announced a nifty tool that helps managers spread out potential overtime assignments in an equitable manner. The software checks to see if some workers are getting more/less overtime time slots. One reason for this is to prevent some workers from receiving preferential treatment while others are being punished (this is a fairness matter). This technology can also help prevent some overworked employees from experiencing burnout. And, of course, it can help assign people in a more efficient manner.
This functionality is needed in certain industries more than others. It helps employees identify and bid on which shifts/days they’d like to work (or won’t work). This tool provides some scheduling control to employees while helping fill needed time slots. It also provides a fair way to assign people to shifts.
Ceridian showed some interesting examples on how smart watch technology can be used in time and attendance applications. In one example, we saw a watch display notice that a worker was still 12 KM from the office and would arrive 2 minutes late for work. The smart watch asked if it should notify the employee’s manager.
In another example, the watch noticed that the employee was no longer in the building and asked if it wants the system to clock out the employee. Likewise, the smart watch could determine if a worker had entered the workplace but had not clocked in yet. In that situation, it can prompt the user and see if the user wants to be clocked in automatically.
While my very basic wristwatch isn’t this smart, this technology had some obvious new use cases and applications.
Readers should think of Guides as a tool to help employees navigate certain ‘moments that matter’. For example, there could be a guide to help employees update withholding, insurance beneficiaries and tax forms when they get married.
Wallet is a payment technology that sends employee pay to a debit card. It can also be used with Ceridian’s on-demand (or daily) pay processing so that employees can get paid whenever they choose and in a manner that provides more immediate access to funds (without having to use a payday lender).
While this software is something I’ve written about previously, Ceridian did provide some updates on how the software is being used by customers. About 750 customers are now live with Wallet. The product is getting a 45% participation rate. Employees are spending about $28/transaction with the debit card and these purchases often cover food, gasoline, and other modern necessities.
Mobile Benefits Enrollment
The crowd certainly loved this application. It gives smartphone users the ability to perform their annual benefits enrollment on a small form factor device. If this tool works as promised, it should help dramatically reduce the number of year-end calls to the HR team. That’s especially critical as Q4 is often a hectic time for HR professionals because they are often dealing with holidays, performance reviews, pay changes, vacations, benefit elections, and year-end tax, regulatory, and other time requirements.
This is another smartphone application that can “provide intelligent employee career path recommendations based on skills and qualifications, along with predictive development plans.” This tool obviously works with the skills identification and succession planning tools within the Dayforce suite.
And these are just a few of the many new and upcoming functions debuted at the show.
Ceridian speakers made sure we knew that they are promoting the “Dayforce. Your Global People Platform” messaging. This is in addition to the multi-year emphasis on Ceridian’s Makes Work Life Better™ brand promise. The newer, global angle was clearly a point they drove home in their growing customer locations and support for native payrolls.
Ceridian speakers also pushed the ‘Single System’ message in their remarks. Ceridian now has a large suite of HRMS applications and a full ‘whole product’ (a term coined by Geoffrey Moore). Beyond the applications, there is also a platform and an ecosystem of implementers and related technologies to supplement and complete the offerings.
Since all of this is part of a single, integrated solution with a common database, UX, and other components, this ‘singular’ messaging of Ceridian has parallels with Workday’s Power of One messaging of the last few years. That worked well for Workday, and the single system message might work well with Ceridian prospects, too.
Here are just some of Ceridian’s software modules:
- Separation management
- Career pathing
- Tax filing and forms
- Pulse surveys
- Performance management
- Talent acquisition
- Succession planning
- Document management
- Leave management
- Approval workflows
- Time tracking
Ceridian and Dayforce have grown and progressed quite significantly in just a few years. For enterprise software vendors, this is a hard thing to do. Why? Many back-office solutions often remain in place for a decade or more. Given that long-lived nature of installed products, only a small percentage of firms are ever interested in replacing their technology solutions in a given year. So, to grow like Ceridian did is out of the norm.
The sheer number of new capabilities showcased at Ceridian Insights was a delight to see. Several events I’ve attended this year have been long on marketing, wishful thinking, and positioning and notably thin on any real news regarding the product’s evolution.
The attendees at the show appeared to both like what they were seeing/hearing and be happy that they had gone with Ceridian. I just couldn’t get anyone to divulge any complaints.
Bottom line: great progress by Ceridian and customers appreciated that.