We had the opportunity to attend the Ceridian user Conference Insights in Las Vegas at the beautiful Aria hotel. The event had record attendance with over 2000 customers, partners and employees participating. Ceridian also got a very good showing from the analyst community, despite the summer time and related Las Vegas heat.


Always tough to pick the Top 3 from a multiday event – but here you go:

Ceridian is going ‘soft’(and it is good) – As blogged earlier, Ceridian is one of the HCM software vendors that are doing the ‘hard’ stuff, and with that I refer to software that needs constant updates because of legislative changes, is by itself an architectural challenge to run and has major repercussions when it fails. Or in other words Payroll, Workforce Management and Benefits. The more remarkable was that CEO Ossip did not refer to any of the above in the Day 1 keynote – but choose a softer route with core values, employee engagement and Talent Management. Bolstered also by the recent hire of industry veteran Sperling, Ceridian seems to be committed to move out of the ‘compliance’ corner – at least for the opportunity to upsell Talent Management to its customer base. It was interesting that the audience – that is primarily also doing the ‘hard stuff’ at their employer – was quite open for the more ‘soft’ positioning that bides well for the future upsell efforts by Ceridian. But let’s be clear, Ceridian will not abandon any compliance work, it is even doubling down more in the area e.g. referring multiple times to the San Francisco Retail Worker Bill of Rights, that the vendor will be one of the first to endorse (it has taken effect July 3rd, more e.g. here). Nonetheless a very different key message compared to previous Insight editions.

It also looks to us that Ceridian has earned back a lot of trust from the customer base, something that was in a sour state even two years ago. But Ceridian did what software vendors need to do – issue a (realistic) roadmap and deliver to it. Be transparent on challenges and changes, communicate and deliver to it. In previous years there was a lot of conversations amongst the attendees on where to trust the roadmap or not – that was absent in 2015. Even more, the attendees did not even miss that a roadmap wasn’t offered in the keynote. It is possible that the 20+ customer advisory boards that met before the event took the edge off the topic, but a remarkable change of attitudes and relation towards Ceridian.
Talent Managemen Sperling addressed the Ceridian Insights audience
Talent Managemen Sperling addressed the Insights audience

Much improved user experience – An area where Ceridian has been lacking in the past had been user experience. Two years ago the vendor tried to emulate Microsoft Office, and approach that had some valid arguments on the familiarity side, but would have been disastrous if followed through, given the everlasting permutations the Microsoft Office user interface is going through. The good news was (like overall) that Ceridian has been listening to customers (and influencers) and has been working at innovating on the user experience side. It is also remarkable that the vendor went back to the drawing board when the first effort fell short of industry standards, a decision that takes guts and nerves for an executive team. From what we saw and was demoed at Insights, the decision was the right one, the newest version of the user interface is modern, easy to use and even ahead of the fast moving industry benchmark. The main innovations are a reduction in navigation needs, less screens, less pop ups, more consistency and some innovative overloading of UI elements, e.g. the employee picture with information from TeamRelate and actions pertaining the employee. As with all software innovation does not happen overnight and Ceridian will gradually roll out the new user interface in the coming fall and spring releases. As with all gradual user interface rollouts, making smart decisions on how to split uptake across release matters, it looks like with focusing on ESS and MSS Ceridian is making the sensible decision. The good news for customers is that in case they do not want to operate with two different UI paradigms, they can keep working with the old user interface. From my impressions that would be short changing their employee base, but each project and enterprise is unique and needs to make their own decision. It is good to see that Ceridian offers choice. 

New Ceridian Dayforce Employee Profile inside of MSS
New Dayforce Employee Profile inside of MSS
On the flipside the early Dayforce adopters have been through the ‘innovation rollercoaster’ and are showing some tiring. E.g. we heard some concerns, on the main navigation moving from left to top back to left. But having to deal with more innovation than less is probably the better problem for enterprises to have. And on that point attendees emphatically agreed.

Ceridian TeamRelate Screenshots
TeamRelate Screenshots

TeamRelate is major differentiator – We predicted already for 2014 that the ‘P’ (psychographic and psychologic) information would make its course to mainstream HR systems. Turns out we have been a little too optimistic on vendor innovation pace, but in 2015 Ceridian was one of the (few) vendors coming through on this prediction with the acquisition of TeamRelate. TeamRelate finds out how well two people relate to each other, which means how well they could work with each other. It also makes assumptions on roles, and which roles people can have and which roles are needed to staff teams and projects successfully. As such TeamRelate makes a key contribution to discover new working relationships beyond the experience and gut feel factor of managers, but discovers valuable potential work relationships beyond a manager’s perception and knowledge horizon. Ceridian has been aggressive at adding TeamRelate information to many areas of Dayforce – e.g. the employee profile, team composition, Recruiting (there for the applicants) and Performance Management. It is good to see the speed of the uptake – as the consistent application of the ‘P’ information is key for moving an organization’s performance.

On the concern side, TeamRelate really needs to work, similar to the ‘true’ analytics scenarios. People need to use TeamRelate, and start trusting TeamRelate to make proper prediction on relatability. We spoke to some early prospects and they were encouraged by what they saw. Good news – but an area Ceridian (and we) will watch.


Analyst Tidbits

  • ACA the gift that keeps giving – We saw renewed interest and much more urgency around the ACA topic. Practitioners now know that any hope of the law not making it in its full extent into daily practice (from an avoiding the work perspective) is mute, and they better get on top of it. That is good news for Ceridian, who has been preparing and building functionality to make the adoption and compliance with ACA easy for enterprises. 
  • Dashboarding – A year ago Ceridian showed natural language based search for insights, and the system works, but the results were visually less appealing. As part of the new user interface effort Ceridian has gone back and revisited the dashboards usability, and (apart maybe from the color palette, that matched the Aria’s earthy tones) it has become a much more polished experience. What a year ago was likely a backdoor tools for HR professionals, could now become (what it should be) an exploratory tool in the search of insights from the personal to the boardroom setting. 
  • Documents – Also a year ago Ceridian launched Documents, a Dayforce based document management system that is following the required compliance and statutory regulations. Uptake has been well, and customers are adding more information and documents to the system. To a certain point of course Ceridian has been ‘greasing’ the system by automatically moving paychecks, performance management and recruiting documents to the Documents system. But when you have it, you should use it, a good move to force adoption of new product functionality. Licensing is not a concern as we heard, which is a critical feedback from attendees is. 
  • Lifeworks – Ceridian has a sizeable employee assistance program, Lifeworks, that goes beyond the basic blocking and tackling and also supports wellness and lifestyle choices. In the UK it has found recognition and rewards vendor WorkAngel (more here) and plans to partner more with the vendor. WorkAngel has key experience in mobile platform, user interface and retailer gift card / payment management that are attractive for Ceridian. More will come here, watch the space. 


A very good event for Ceridian. User conferences with a growing user base and a growing customer base are easy setups from a motivational perspective. Attendees seeing more attendees, larger and better keynotes, nice show floors etc. get a basic positive vibe. When vendors get the messaging right, they turn out to be good events, like this Insights conference.

It is good to see that Ceridian is finding more of Talent Management value propositions, which makes the vendor more complete in regards of competition in the market place. But even more important is that Ceridian stays true of its DNA of solving tough compliance problems for its customers, as mentioned above the ‘hard stuff’. There was a number of very good data points in regards of implementation and operation ROI. Ceridian keeps converting legacy customers at a quick pace and seems to have upgraded approximately a third of the legacy customers with Dayforce now. That by itself is remarkable, and by itself probably the fastest and most active old to new conversion in the marketplace.

On the concern side Ceridian is growing fast and needs to scale beyond the product – on the sales, implementation and support side. As of July it looks like the sales side is in good shape, Ceridian even shared that it is now giving existing customers the choice to stay on the legacy product or move to Dayforce, something vendors pressed for revenue won’t do. But it also needs to make sure skills on the implementation side are growing. The partner ecosystem on the implementation side is the same ‘usual’ suspects (that are all growing), but as mentioned in our Progress Report from the analyst day of March (see below), Ceridian needs more partner implementation resources. On the support side it looks like Ceridian has been able to add and train resources faster and with that again gaining the upper hand in the support quality conversation. All good problem to have as they result from growth, but they need to be successfully addressed.

Overall a very good user conference for Ceridian that is building momentum on all aspects, and even more importantly is actively working on differentiating itself from the other vendors. Ossip’s vision of Ceridian becoming a ‘brand’ that employees will ask after when changing employers is an ambitious one, but Ceridian is working towards it. We will be watching and analyzing, stay tuned.

More on Ceridian

  • First Take - Ceridian Insights Day #1 Keynote Takeaways - off to a good start - read here
  • Progress Report – Ceridian executes on product, next challenge – implementation capacity, then sales … Read here
  • Event Report - CeridianINSIGHTS 2014 - Ceridian innovates and adds key functionality - read here
  • First Take - Ceridian INSIGHTS Day 1 Keynote - Top 3 Takeaways - read here
  • Progress Report - Ceridian makes a lot of progress - but the road(map) is long - read here
  • Ceridian transforming itself and with that the game – read here

And unrelated to Ceridian - but how important payroll can be for HCM innovation:

  • Could the paycheck reinvent HCM - yes it can - read here
  • And suddenly... payroll matters again - read here
Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here and checkout my magazine on Flipboard.