Going into ADP’s industry analyst day, I was curious about where a 61-year-old “payroll” company fits in today’s market for human capital management. It certainly has a presence, with over 550,000 customers across multiple lines of business – HR, payroll, tax and benefits administration – and nearly $9 billion in revenue with three consecutive quarters of growth coming out of the worst recession since the Great Depression.
Throughout the day ADP executives did an impressive job of highlighting their product development strategy, particularly when it came to revealing more about their highly anticipated, cloud-based ADP Vantage HCM suite now in pilot testing and to be officially launched this fall. They said that current payroll and benefits products and services customers at complex global enterprises kept asking for better platform integration that also included time and attendance, HR and talent management capabilities, which motivated them to develop Vantage.
The previously released cloud-based Workforce Now for small to midsize companies was actually the starting point of this product development and is revving into version 3.0. Workforce Now has gained more than 10,000 clients in less than two years on the market, and ADP says that 70 of them each have more than 1,000 employees. That’s impressive in such a short time and an indication that ADP is paying attention to its HCM software buyers are looking for today.
Even though ADP did have nearly $500 million in acquisitions during the past year, some of which won’t be integrated into Vantage any time soon, the new HCM software platform built on the success of Workforce Now, collapsing and consolidating the code base to integrate ADP’s existing payroll, benefits, HR and time and attendance platforms.
As I Tweeted during the analyst day: “This ain’t your father’s payroll company.”
But what caught and held my attention more than anything else during the day was ADP’s single mobile solution called ADP Mobile for Enterprise, which can be used to access Vantage and most other ADP products. (By the way, mobility is one of the five emerging business technologies my colleagues and I are focusing on this year – see my HCM agenda. The idea of a single mobile solution is to have one application configurable for various smartphones and tablet computers that gives employees and managers access to HR and payroll systems through widgets; this is an alternative to a single-sign-on app that only accesses one dashboard in the system and requires the user to navigate with extra steps.
We’ve seen many HCM vendors of late release mobile apps for apps’ sake apparently without thinking through the whole complex of employee needs, management needs and organizational needs as well as form factors and the where, how, when and why of work today.
The ADP product strategy and development execs told me that while they don’t crowd-source many of their 550,000 customers for evaluative product feedback and development, they do use customer advisory councils, focus groups and automated customer experience software. The idea to develop a single mobile solution came from talking with over 700 customers and prospects.
We’re going to dig deeper into the state of HCM mobile software soon with our Next Generation Workforce Management and Mobile Business benchmark research efforts in 2011. In the meantime ADP presented some interesting findings from its recent survey of trends in workforce mobility that helped form its strategy in developing the mobile component for Vantage. Here are a few I thought noteworthy:
- Growth of smartphones is fueling expansion of enterprise software applications; they represent 50% of the workforce that utilizes mobile systems.
- Over 50% of employers see value in providing employees with HR mobile access.
- 40% say mobile HR is critical or important in their HR outsourcing decision.
- 50% to 80% plan to implement mobile services in the next 18 months.
- Businesses will spend over $1.4 trillion on investments in mobility, and enterprise applications are the fastest growing segment.
Based on this data, ADP’s technology executives questioned further their customer and prospect pools, and the consensus was that the first thing their customers want is more employee self-service adoption. This is critical because to eliminate the employee/employer divide in organizations today, employees must feel comfortable with the technology and systems they are asked to use, which means allowing them intuitive access to their payroll, benefits and other core employee information, as well as company services and resources, and preferably with more than one way to access the data – a mobile option. Once they are empowered to do this, we can expect employees’ comfort and confidence levels to elevate and communication with management to improves, as they no longer feel they’re kept in the dark about things that matter to them.
I got to play with the mobile application first-hand, and I found it very cool (and seemingly productive) – think a configurable iPhone app with configurable widgets for employees and managers; the focus is on the employee experience first, though. The app includes access to payroll, time and attendance, scheduling, workforce management, corporate directory, 401K valuation, benefits and other systems. According to ADP, the single mobile solution increases communication and collaboration, productivity, engagement and decision-making.
There are two mobile releases planned, and the first has only a few configurable widgets that are functional while client testing goes on with others. Right now the single app is native to Apple products as well as mobile Web enabled for BlackBerry and Android devices.
One last comment about all things mobile per my conversations with HR suppliers recently: Vendors may not be able to monetize mobile technology soon, but it will be table stakes and could make the difference in closing future deals. I say that because, as with the current “freemium” models of social networking software – which let you test-drive the software for free before you buy – companies won’t be willing to pay for a technology like mobile HR apps that don’t make a strong business case in user adoption, enhance workforce management and show a significant return in driving revenue via greater productivity. That said, I believe ADP’s single mobile solution is on the right track to eventual profit.
In my next post I’ll review the workforce analytics development for ADP Vantage HCM. This is an exciting time to be an HR and talent management executive because the technology choices available are finally addressing the true needs of the global workforce and the way we manage it today.
Team - Ventana Research