At its 2011 KronosWorks annual user conference, the workforce management application provider advanced
its agenda with the introduction of new applications to further its global
presence. From my visit, and from looking back at my analysis of its 2010conference,
it seems the company’s focus is to simplify management of an hourly workforce.
At this week’s event, the most impact came from the introduction of the Kronos InTouch device.
This is not a typical time clock; it provides employees with interactive,
self-service access to worker-related information and applications. First, it
provides access to messages, schedules, punches and other standard time-clock
activities, but it also has the ability to make a telephone call to managers or
service centers so workers can discuss any questions. The device has the usual badge
reader but adds smart-card identification along with biometrics. The InTouch device
can operate in harsh environments with extreme temperatures or in facilities
that lack front- or back-room clock-in areas.
All of these capabilities come packaged in an
Internet-accessible device that has a 7-inch VGA color touch screen with
Ethernet capabilities and a supporting application platform, which means that
you could code an application that, for example, would allow workers to order a
pizza to be delivered to their home as they punch out. Kronos’s Workforce
Central system lets customers and partners build, certify and deploy
applications, which expands the potential for worker self-service in applications
or training videos that review new policies and procedures. Kronos continues to
support a range of hardware maintenance, repair and replacement options, along
with software support for the device.
For organizations that are not ready for this big step
forward, the company still provides its long-standing 4500 model, which has
been available for more than a decade. That device interoperates with Workforce
Central to track and manage worker activities on the Kronos InTouch.
Beta users of Kronos InTouch spoke about it at the
conference, including Aramark, Briggs & Stratton and Nestle. I was
impressed with the form factor and the features. It reminded me my high school
and college jobs of clocking in while working at Safeway and agricultural
processing plant in the 1980s. I could appreciate the advances over the last 30
years and was amused hear to some people question the importance of this
device. They suggested an Apple iPad could do much of what Kronos InTouch does,
but I doubt they have experience with the environments that these devices
operate in today. This is a worker terminal, almost a mini-kiosk, that lets
organizations expand what they provide to workers in any environment.
I also used and reviewed the second and latest major release
of Workforce Mobile,
which can be downloaded from application stores like Apple’s. You can experience
it for yourself by clicking on a link. In what I call the “if you’ve got it,
flaunt it” approach, Kronos has opened up access to users who want to see what
they can do with the software. Some providers believe either that their
products require explanation or that they might provide competitors insight
into their efforts; Kronos has moved beyond that and takes the approach that
Apple does with its user experience, making the application available to anyone
without the need for a manual or training. With this release both workers and
managers can perform many activities without a time clock or computer but from
a smartphone. The new support for managers is critical, and I expect to see
more from Kronos over the next year in terms of providing manager-class
applications on tablets. If you have not tried Workforce Mobile, you can do it
from your own smartphone.
In addition, Kronos announced version 6.3 of its core WorkforceCentral.
Since this application is the nerve center for managing workforces, it was a
major focus at the conference. The company has made it easier to support global
users from a single server and offers advances to help manage and support
compliance with time-off policies for hourly and salary workers across
countries with different regulations. The request and approval processes are
now automated through workflow. Workforce Navigator enables management and
managers to review workers, and supports simpler access for workers to get to
their own information. Improvements in onboarding workers through to payroll
will save organizations time and resources.
Kronos also enhanced its Workforce Talent Acquisition to
help in the process of hiring hourly workers with new capabilities. I believe
this is an area for still further advances in embracing the use of social media
like that I found and reviewed in my analysis of Talent Technology or digital interviewing with HireVue.
It also continues to advance the company’s delivery of cloud services to make its applications available anywhere the Internet can be accessed,
without the need for internal IT infrastructure. The options for renting and
not just licensing the software provide
more choices for customers.
Kronos continues to demonstrate global customer and
financial growth in its fiscal 2011 reports;
revenue increased to $800 million. I was impressed to see the company hadrecently announced its partnership with Saba, which provides learning management systems and can help Kronos advance into
the new field of social learning.
The conference demonstrated Kronos’s prowess in applications
and technology, and gave its representatives a chance for strategic dialogue
with customers on how to continue to meet their needs worldwide. As you look at
the next generation of workforce management, I recommend putting Kronos on your
short list of vendors to evaluate in
managing not just hourly but also salaried workers.
Mark Smith – CEO & Chief Research Officer