We had the opportunity to attend ADP’s ReThink conference, held in Barcelona January 31st till February 2nd 2017. The event is for global customers and prospects of GlobalView, ADP’s global HCM product with a strong foundation in payroll. It was a record event in attendance, the combined companies have a total of 3.5T US$ in revenue… that’s almost the GDP of Germany.


So take a look at my musings on the event here: (if the video doesn’t show up, check here)


No time to watch – here is the 1-2 slide condensation (if the slide doesn’t show up, check here):

Want to read on? Here you go: Always tough to pick the takeaways – but here are my most important ones:

Great Keynotes – Thought leaders and Thought provokers – There are plenty of good keynote speakers, it is tough to find great ones. ADP did not only find great ones, it also had the courage to have them express views and topics out of the mainstream of the usual HCM conferences. You don’t hear a speaker advocate that you need to pay your over performers so much more that it feels wrong. Or have a speaker share that the end of globalization is coming – to an audience that operates global enterprises. Or about the importance of human rights for long time sustainability of enterprises. So, kudos to have controversial speakers, taking alternate views, which ultimately is rewarding for any audience, as it triggers thoughts and ideas that are not coming when listening to the regular ideas of the usual speaker crowd. Moreover, ADP got the mix between product presentation and customers right. Nothing is more powerful than customers learning and hearing from customers and the ADP had at least six global enterprises present from peer to peer. 

ADP ReThink Constellation Research Holger Mueller Future of Work FoW NextGenHCM
Total Revenue and Employees of ADP ReThink attending enterprises

Global Cloud Connect looms – Not surprisingly, ADP’s earlier announced product Global Cloud Connect was the core product message of the conference. The product promises to solve the epic integration challenge that HR professionals face, which is even more pronounced when working on a global level. ADP plans to make Global Cloud Connect not another technical / IT integration tool – but a tool that can be used by the (mildly technology savvy) HR professional. That is an ambitious goal for a challenging problem, but ADP has the experience in the field, operating many of its customers with a BPO offering. It never hurts for software vendors to have the firsthand experience and users in house, wearing the same security badge. Global Cloud Connect is slated to be available early in 2018, so we will have plenty of opportunities to monitor the progress and forthcoming of this key product for ADP customers.
ADP ReThink Constellation Research Holger Mueller Future of Work FoW NextGenHCM

TMBC for the global audience – ADP recently acquired The Markus Buckingham Company (TMBC) (read my take here), I missed Buckingham’s presentation due to flight schedule, unsurprisingly it was well received. Next to the TMBC software IP, ADP has now a thought leader and accomplished speaker to ramp up the ADP game in the Talent Management market. The TMBC StandUp product, that ADP will keep selling, has good functionality in the areas of Engagement, Learning and Performance Management. Over time ADP will have to consolidate these capabilities with its Vantage portfolio, but in the short run it is good to see ADP leaving TMBC in place, making sure positioning and culture of TMBC stays preserved if possible / needed. 
ADP ReThink Constellation Research Holger Mueller Future of Work FoW NextGenHCM
ADP GlobalView

ADP Technology Vision hits the mark – ADP’s ‘secret weapon’ (the introduction), Masiero gave an interesting presentation on the technology vision and direction. It looks like the ADP assistant has made substantial progress since the analyst day (see here) and is being used internally. That the future of ESS and MSS is not a traditional UI but chat and voice, powered by AI is a direction we see materializing as well. ADP has ambitions in Machine Learning that should come to fruition in 2017, combined with ADP’s large trove of data, that comes along when you e.g. pay one out of six people in the US. The spreadsheet direction for the HR professional is ambitious, but plausible. In general, the clock has started ticking on the traditional user interface as we know it, and while the direction for the casual user seems clear (voice), the UX for the professional user (here in HR) is not so certain yet. But good to see ADP having a bold (and unique) vision.


A very good event for SAP, probably the best executive, small scale event in HR that I have attended during my analyst career. As mentioned very good speakers in general, customer presenting to customer and speakers being thought provoking and contrarian. Can’t expect much more from a speaker line up. On the product side, Global Cloud Connect looms, customers and prospects are genuinely excited about the direction and product, possible overseeing that a few more things will have to happen and will happen for GlobalView in the next 12 months, before Global Cloud Connect will be available.

On the concern side, ADP will have to deliver the ‘holy grail’ of HCM, that is traditionally plagued by integration woes. These can be of course solved with the ‘blood, sweat and tears’ of smart professionals in the field of HR and IT, but integration is a living beast, that needs constant attention and creates regular nightmares for those in charge of them. Making the ‘n to m’ connect tool Global Cloud Connect end user friendly is the right ambition, but it certainly does not make the product development task for ADP easier. Rest assured we will follow this one closely.

Overall almost nothing not to like, a great event for ADP customers and prospects, that certainly took home from Barcelona that ADP cares, listens and has solutions to help them with their global HR needs and with running their global HR operations. We will be watching – stay tuned.

Want to learn more? Checkout the Storify collection below (if it doesn’t show up – check here). A day #1 Storify collection is here. - Finally here is a Twitter Moment of Day #1.

And more on ADP:
  • News Analysis - ADP Acquires The Marcus Buckingham Company to Expand Talent Portfolio - read here
  • Progress Report - ADP Analyst Day 2016 - ADP has turned around Vantage HCM - read here
  • Event Report - Event Report - ADP MOTM - ADP delivers: New UI, Benchmarks, Market Place & More - read here
  • News Analysis - Workday and ADP partner to Deliver a Seamless Customer Experience for Global Payroll - read here
  • Progress Report - ADP Analyst Day - ADP executes, kills (most) ghosts from the past - read here
  • Event Report - ADP Meeting of the Minds - It’s all coming together for ADP in 2015 - product wise - read here
  • First Take - ADP Meeting of the Minds - Day #1 Keynote - read here
  • Progress Report - ADP shows great vision, delivers product innovation - now it needs adoption - read here
  • Site Visit - ADP's new innovation lab in Chelsea - read here
  • News Analysis - ADP announces Spin-Off plans for Dealer Services, sharpens ADP's focus on HCM - read here.
  • Event Report - ADP's Meeting of the Minds - ADP has made up its mind (almost) - customers not yet - read here.
  • First take - 3 Key Takeaways from ADP's Meeting of the Minds Conference Day 1 Keynote - read here.
  • ADP innovates with with verve and good timing – read here.
Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here and checkout my magazine on Flipboard and my YouTube channel here.