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Kronos Doubles Down on HCM Platform Development


Earlier this month, Kronos held its annual client event, KronosWorks, in Las Vegas, drawing >3k attendees from around the globe. 

Much of the attention at KronosWorks centered on the launch of InTouch DX, an intelligent time clock offering that incorporates advanced digital capabilities including an LCD with touch-enabled access, facial recognition, and integration with Kronos Workforce Dimensions for workforce management insights. However, many attendees were there to learn what Kronos has planned for its HCM platform offering.

If you are familiar with Kronos, you likely know their long history and body of work as a workforce management software provider. It offers an extensive time & attendance and scheduling capability that is not only leveraged by thousands of clients of all sizes and industries globally to address complex workforce management requirements, but the solution is also leveraged or resold by several leading HR services and technology providers as their "go-to" integrated, advanced WFM solution (e.g. SAP/SuccessFactors, ADP, etc.)  

However, over the past three years, Kronos has also been quietly developing two cloud-based, next-generation HCM platform solutions that are now serving nearly 4k clients globally and have experienced a sizeable adoption increase of >30% in 2019 (a growth rate comparable to its HCM technology peers in the space, many of which focus exclusively on HCM and launched solutions several years prior).

Kronos HCM offering at a glance

Kronos' HCM offering includes two cloud-based platforms, both localized and targeted to organizations headquartered in nine countries: U.S., Canada, Mexico, U.K., France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Australia, and New Zealand. Together, the platforms now support >3m HCM users and an additional >35m users on its WFM solutions. The Kronos HCM platform offerings are:

  • Workforce Ready: generally targeted to organizations with <5k employees, but with the capability to support organizations >5k
  • Workforce Dimensions HCM: targeted to organizations with >5k employees; generally, those operating in industries with high populations of hourly workers or having a complex workforce management requirement (e.g. unions, global presence, etc. – which may also include organizations below 5k).

The two HCMs have aligning infrastructure and are built on the Kronos D5 cloud platform enabled by Google Cloud technology. Therefore, both platforms share essential functionality and capabilities (currently >90%) across their HCM modules.  

A key element to the Workforce Dimensions platform, and where its capability differentiates from that of the Workforce Ready platform, is its complex workforce management and planning capabilities. Kronos also offers this as a standalone solution and is often adopted by users of both Kronos' HCM platforms, as well as integrated with other leading HCM solutions. Workforce Dimensions (WFM) is currently configured to support 17 languages. Additionally, the platform offers deeper functionality to support key requirements inherent to operating in industries such as healthcare, manufacturing, retail, staffing, distribution, government, banking, and education.

What’s new and next

Kronos continues to push hard on the advancement of its HCM offering, directing a sizable portion of its annual R&D spend toward its HCM platform development. In addition to advancing its HCM capability, Kronos is also investing in a significant marketing blitz aimed at shifting its brand awareness from that of a WFM technology provider to a provider of comprehensive, platform-based WFM and HCM technology solutions.

Central to the Kronos HCM roadmap and platforms’ future is the infusion of AIMEE, an artificial intelligence and machine learning engine that provides predictive and prescriptive guidance for employees and managers. AIMEE supports tasks and insights such as predicting employee "flight risk", identifying employee success potential, measuring employee fatigue, and supporting succession planning by analyzing employee trends. 

At the event, Kronos launched a new Advanced People Analytics offering powered by AIMEE. The offering, which is available now for Kronos Workforce Ready and due in 2020 for Kronos Workforce Dimensions clients, provides access to three data science tools for decision-based actions:

  • Insights Powered by AIMEE: enables strategic data views in planned areas such as absence management, flight risk, leaves, onboarding, performance, and recruiting 
  • Insights Explorer: a data exploration tool that simplifies the dissection of data from across the employee lifecycle, leveraging a descriptive analytics engine to “connect the dots” between engagement, performance, and productivity with multiple datasets 
  • Insights Dashboard: provides visualizations through Insights Explorer to provide leaders with a single view of critical people insights.

Moving ahead, Kronos is focused on enabling deeper user personalization and insights across both platforms’ suite of modules and will do this by expanding the use of AIMEE AI to address additional use cases and tasks with predictive and prescriptive guidance – as well as leveraging NLP technology and chatbot capability to address a wide set of everyday HR tasks.

Kronos plans the continued expansion and development of its vertical solutions to address use cases unique to buyers of key industries such as retail, manufacturing, and healthcare. It also plans to expand its native payroll capability beyond the U.S. and Australia (integrated through Payroll Metrics Australia) to include Canada in 2020.

Further, Kronos is committed to rapidly expanding its network of integrated partner solutions to address white spaces and extend the value of their platforms beyond HCM. Recent examples include PayActiv for on-demand payroll capability, Unum Group for leave management administration, and integrations with Cornerstone OnDemand's talent management solutions.

The outlook for Kronos’ HCM offering

With its HCM platforms currently supporting employees in ~85 countries (and quickly expanding), the company is looking to the U.K. and Australia (Australian Payroll is now available through a partnership with Payroll Metrics) as part of its international expansion plans to drive further HCM adoption, where it has a sizable WFM client presence and is already seeing strong HCM adoption in line with its U.S. growth trajectory. To support its international growth plans and help it scale, Kronos continues to rapidly expand its network of global implementation partners that can deploy its HCM platforms on its behalf.

The challenge for Kronos will be increasing its cloud HCM technology "at-bats" with potential buyers seeking to modernize their HR operating models. Kronos is betting on its media blitz to help address this issue, including targeted TV and radio ads, sponsoring professional golfers from the PGA and LPGA (some of which were at KronosWorks), and conducting field events and tradeshows, while also building out its advisory and broker alliances. Further, Kronos will also look to its base of >8k Workforce Central and other legacy WFM clients globally as potential converts to its broader HCM platform offering.

As Kronos heads into 2020, it brings with it strong momentum for its HCM platforms, which remain distinctly positioned in the space against competing HCM-centric peers, offering one of the only fully-integrated, vertically-enabled HCM and WFM solutions available from a single technology provider.  

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