I spent time last week with Ceridian clients, partners and staffers at their annual Insights user conference. The event reflected Ceridian’s ongoing evolution from a traditional payroll vendor to a cloud-based Human Capital Management solution provider.
As mentioned in my previous post from the organization’s analyst event back in March, the UI has continued to improve, becoming easier to navigate, and sporting better layout and functionality with each release. CEO David Ossip’s opening session highlighted the continued integration of functionality from its RelatedMatters acquisition in the form of TeamRelate, which brings relationship insights into performance and recruiting conversations. And despite all the time and attention paid to new functionality throughout the talent lifecycle, Ossip reiterated that “nothing we do in talent will ever be a distraction from compliance.”
What was new and different at this event, though, was the feeling of a blurring of the lines between Ceridian, its partners, and its customers. For example, at one point a Ceridian client came on stage to present a customer service recognition award to a Ceridian support team member. It was a powerful example of shared ownership of client goals, and also a powerful example of strategic recognition. If you say you care about customer success and want to reward behaviors that align with that goal, it doesn’t get much better than your client giving someone on your team that kind of accolade. This level of organizational engagement and alignment, and its link to business performance – for Ceridian itself and its customers – was a central theme of the event.
Ossip and team also seem to be finding the fine balance required between being confident and bold in what they do well, and humble enough to know when it makes more sense to partner. You will find no one more adamant than Ossip himself that Ceridian “will continue to be first in compliance.” But he and the team are under no illusions that they will be the next ERP, or that they will ever catch up to key solution providers with deep talent functionality in certain areas. As Ossip mentioned several times, “if you need extensive performance management capabilities, go with SuccessFactors,” one of several organizations with which Ceridian has a referral partnership. The organization seemed to have a quiet confidence this time around that let them stay focused on clients without the distractions of a turf war – despite its desire to continue to build out and improve talent offerings under the expert hand of the newly arrived Lisa Sterling to run the talent management product division.
Ceridian still has a lot of work ahead, continuing to build out talent management components like compensation and succession, and keeping up with the changing market needs in its core products like timekeeping and payroll. It also has key opportunities, such as its newly announced partnership with WorkAngel, a social reward and recognition platform. One area I will be paying particular attention to is the TeamRelate functionality, which has huge potential, but also requires a big commitment and cultural adjustment by users to truly yield value. I still have some concerns about ensuring that managers truly know when and how this data should be used, as with all assessment or evaluation tools. But as the world of software providers evolves to become solution partners, Ceridian’s blurred organizational lines may enable them to better help clients not only adopt tools, but continue to put them to strategic use.