Ceridian Demonstrates What’s Behind Its Brand Performance [ Market Bulletin ]

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Last week, I spent a day and a half with Ceridian at its annual “Analyst Day” event in San Francisco. Ceridian understands the value of analyst relationships where most other vendors relegate it to an analyst relations process. Managing analyst relations and having analyst relationships are two different things. Ceridian gets this.

Under the direction of VP of Market Strategy Jayson Saba and Ceridian’s marketing and events teams, Ceridian has established an ongoing conversation with 20 to 30 of the market’s leading analysts and influencers. I’m always honored to be in the room.

Ceridian’s CEO, David Ossip, was the master of ceremonies and main presenter. To watch him present, and support his team as they presented everything — market strategy, financial results, product road map, integration strategy, internal HR processes, and more — I was struck that the most valuable asset Ceridian acquired in the acquisition of Dayforce a few years ago was a neck-and-neck race between David and the product itself. I’ve been in this industry for a long time, and it’s rare that a CEO of a $1 billion company can go from a 30,000-foot level of strategy down to ground-level execution across all functions and stay on message.

This year’s analyst day came directly on the heels of our release of the 2015 HCM Vendor Brandscape ReportTM, where Ceridian experienced some impressive brand velocity looking forward from 2015 to 2016. Ceridian also received high points for message focus. This suggests that along with a strong understanding of the HCM customer, it also has demonstrated emerging competitive strength and competitive potential. The analyst presentations in San Francisco underscored this.

A few things stood out:

Ceridian understands how its brand impacts business performance. Ceridian has evolved from its early days as a payroll service bureau that offered payroll with enabling HR software, to an emerging HCM technology leader via the Dayforce HCM platform. Ceridian has extended its platform and the benefits of it being a single technology stack to deliver value for the customer. It’s now broadening that focus beyond core HR and into the rest of the employee life cycle, as well as redefining its brand promise. Ceridian has also updated its message to the customer: “Ceridian makes work life better.”

David Ossip reiterated this new message and how it’s reflected in the history building the company to this point and the strategic and product directions moving the company forward. This new brand focus and the resulting supporting messages will be a big priority for Ceridian in the coming year. It’s important Ceridian gets it right. The results could amplify Ceridian’s projected brandscape velocity in 2016 just as easily as it could put a damper on it.

Ceridian understands its customer, and the brand message continues to be on point. Repeated throughout the meetings were the benefits reaped by Ceridian’s award-winning Customer Success program, XOXO. This program underscores the priority Ceridian puts on the customer relationship and is a key vehicle for Ceridian to deeply understand customer needs. Ceridian invests in its customer relationships and the result is visible in the brandscape.

Ceridian has aligned its strategy and product with the three trends we see impacting HR and HCM technology the most. In the brandscape report, we outlined three trends that will shape the future of HR: strategic workforce optimization, the rise of HCM for small and medium-size businesses, and the rise of the contingent workforce.

Ceridian has delivered functionality in its core product, extended the product via development, and made strategic acquisitions to move the company forward in alignment with all three of these trends.

Strategic Workforce Optimization: Dayforce HCM has always incorporated point of sale, ERP, financial, CRM, scheduling, and other key data from the customer’s enterprise systems to give both the line manager and the HR executive the information they need to make strategic workforce decisions. This data also fuels the day-to-day operations with “when I need it” analytics in the interface. I watched a large national retail customer demonstrate how its managers get back four hours a week just by having data available to them to more efficiently schedule their employees. At the same time, Ceridian gives users the ability to use natural language to define an ad hoc report on the fly. Typing “show headcount from employee against age band split by ethnic origin” results in a report and chart that can be analyzed, saved, and shared.

The Rise of HCM for Small and Medium-size Businesses: Ceridian announced a new offering for the SMB that’s scaled and priced appropriately for businesses with fewer than 500 employees — a very strategic move for a company already adept at servicing the middle market. The increasing buyer empowerment in the SMB may define the future for HR and HCM technology. We’re seeing more innovation for the SMB than anywhere else in HR technology.

The Rise of the Contingent Workforce: By combining its newly updated recruiting capabilities with even newer mobile-device time-punch capabilities and facial recognition, Ceridian is addressing a rising contingent workforce — a workforce that is mobile-ready and on demand. The contingent workforce is projected to be 50 percent of the Fortune 100 by 2020. Ceridian is ahead of the curve when it comes to adding key capabilities to address this emerging management challenge that customers will face.

Along with addressing these trends, Ceridian announced the acquisition of HR technology startup Related Matters. Related Matters uses a combination of assessments and pulse surveys to both measure engagement and help employees understand how to better work with each other. It’s a mix of behavioral science and pulse feedback, giving staff and managers more context around employee performance and communications. These capabilities will be integrated throughout the Dayforce HCM platform. This is a smart move for Ceridian as it moves aggressively toward strengthening its talent management capabilities. I see engagement as the next big platform vs. point solution battle in HCM and HR technology. If Ceridian gets this right, it will be a strong supporting argument for the platform.

Ceridian has experienced strong growth, adding 2,000 new customers globally in fiscal year 2014. It’s also managed strong client retention, and its NPS scores are reportedly much higher than the industry average. Ceridian’s brand as experienced by the market and customers has been a driving force behind its success.

I’ll be looking at the other 21 vendors and associated brand performance in The Starr Conspiracy’s HCM Vendor Brandscape ReportTM with my colleague Lance Haun in an upcoming webinar on March 31.

The brandscape offers a clear view into what makes The Starr Conspiracy different, from the LightpaperTM format to the forward-looking analyses and predictions we offer that challenge common conventions about the B2B human resources technology market and the trends in play at any given time. It’s been exciting to release the report, review it with the vendors covered, and get feedback from the HCM community at large.

We’re not stopping at HCM. We’re working on brandscapes for talent acquisition and employee engagement due out later this quarter. We’ve got a 2015 publishing calendar that covers all the major HR technology segments.

If you have specific questions about this report, please email me at george@thestarrconspiracy.com.

If you’d like to learn more about our research and how it might help you in your efforts, schedule some time with a TSCIU analyst by emailing us at briefings@thestarrconspiracy.com.