Customer Analytics Research Reveals Required Capabilities for Software

Our recently released research into next-generation customer analytics shows that the most participants (52%) use spreadsheets as a customer analytics tool. I recently wrote that while these popular tools are adequate for some tasks, they are not suitable for analyzing large volumes and many types of customer data. So I think it is appropriate that one in four (26%) participants have adopted a dedicated customer analytics tool and a further 29 percent are planning to invest in such a tool in the next 24 months.

There are good reasons to use a capable tool for this critical vr_Customer_Analytics_08_time_spent_in_customer_analyticsarea of analytics. The research shows that the biggest issue for companies in producing customer analysis is data; users spend most of their time preparing (47%) or reviewing (43%) the data before they can perform any analysis. If companies don’t take action to correct this, the situation is only going to get worse. In my various research I have identified 23 sources of customer data; they include transactional data in business applications such as CRM, ERP and knowledge management, call recordings, text-based interaction data such as letters, forms, text messages, chat and Web scripts, event data such as agent desktop clicks as they try to resolve interactions, and social media posts. So not only do users have very large volumes of data to deal with, but the data comes in many different formats, several of which are unstructured. To produce as complete an analysis as possible, companies need systems that can handle almost all of these sources of data, that can automate the process of extracting the data from them, and that can standardize the data to ensure it is of the highest quality and all data relating to a single customer can be integrated. I believe that making the right product choice for customer analytics depends first on what and how much data it can process.

That said, the research reveals some other factors that impact the choice of customer analytics including real-time (21%), advanced vr_Customer_Analytics_06_most_important_customer_analytics(19%), statistics (14%), predictive (12%) and visual (10%) as first ranked priorities. Many customer-related tasks require information that is as up-to-date as possible; for example, a contact center agent needs to know what a customer attempted to do before calling the contact center so the response can be put in the context of previous interactions as well as the customer’s profile. Product evaluations thus should look for systems that not only process all forms of data but that can collect the data in real time or near real time and produce the analysis likewise. Another factor is that in dealing with customers, it is increasingly important to have predictive capabilities. To keep up organizations must move from relying on historical analysis to predicting likely future action; for example, an unusually high volume of complaints might lead to customer defections, and real-time capabilities could, for example, indicate when a negative post on social media is likely because of what the customer is saying during a phone call. I suspect that the majority of users who rely on spreadsheets do not have high expectations about the way the results are presented. But I believe that as engaging with customers becomes more complex, users will need information presented in more visual ways that help them quickly see areas that need addressing or present the data in more useful forms, such as showing the customer’s location on a map to help find the nearest service engineer to deal with an emergency.

Ventana Research tracks six technologies that are changing the waysvr_Customer_Analytics_07_new_technologies_for_customer_analytics users access and consume technology that our research finds important beyond analytics itself: big data (60%), cloud computing (44%), collaboration 62%), mobility (38%) and social media (35%). My research into next-generation customer engagement shows that companies expect analytics to have the greatest impact on the way they engage with customers in the future; more recognize that without a complete view of customers it is hard to develop a focused customer service strategy, enhance customer-related process, provide personalized responses to interactions or understand how their company is performing from the customer’s perspective. Each of the other five next-generation technologies is also having a direct impact on customer analytics. By whatever definition you use, customer data is “big” – it comes in large volumes and in multiple forms, has to be processed in real time and requires predictive capabilities. Increasingly more of it resides in the cloud and must be integrated with on-premises data, and many companies are looking to cloud-based services for customer analytics. Because many business units engage with customers they should share a single set of customer reports and analysis so that all actions and decisions are based on the same information. To do this, more companies are looking at collaborative capabilities that allow users to share customer information and work together on actions such as resolving customer issues. In addition many employees need access to customer data while away from their desks; nearly two-fifths (38%) of participants in the customer analytics research said that mobile access to their customer analytics systems is important. And finally, there is no doubt many consumers use social media, and more are doing so all the time; many of these users are also employees, and they want their work systems to be socially enabled. Add to this that companies need to understand what their customers are “saying” about them on social media, so at the very least a customer analytics system should be able to processes social media data feeds.

One of the latest buzz phrases is the Internet of things, which will serve the connected customer on more devices than ever. People now engage with companies increasingly electronically, often using smart mobile devices – they are more connected and can do things much faster than ever before, including look elsewhere if they are not satisfied with a company. Knowing your customers therefore has never been so important. Ventana Research recommends that you evaluate the options now available in customer analytics tools to help improve customer service and the outcomes of customer engagement.


Richard J. Snow

VP & Research Director

Ceridian Expands Workforce Management to Human Capital Management

At its recent 2014 analyst day Ceridian showed the progress it has made on its Ceridian and Dayforce human capital management (HCM) platform since last year’s launch of its broader HCM portfolio. Ceridian’s overall HCM business, which the company says had revenue of $950 million in 2013 and now has more than 100,000 customers, consists largely of payroll-related products and services such as tax filing and payroll cards, but also benefits, Untitledhuman resources and workforce management products.

In recent years Ceridian has made investments in its Dayforce HCM product line, which provides cloud-based payroll, HR, benefits and workforce management and recently added talent management capabilities with now over 900 customers.  The company also sells employee assistance products called LifeWorks, which have approximately 50,000 users. Since last year’s analyst day, we evaluated Ceridian in our Workforce Management Value Index, where Dayforce Workforce Management was awarded our Hot Vendor or top level classification. Recently it has also expanded its Dayforce Touch that is used for time capture and self-service HR needs and has expanded significantly to support a range of identity and validation options.

At this year’s event Ceridian discussed its overall progress during the past year and reported growth in its Dayforce HCM user base, which includes customers in North America and 50 other countries. According to the company, the Dayforce HCM business is growing enough to cover the attrition of legacy customers. In addition, Ceridian says it continues to provide support for its other payroll and HR management products, as the majority of its customers today use core HR management and payroll products other than Dayforce HCM. The company will also continue to offer a conversion program to manage the transition of customers using older products to Dayforce HCM. This is wise, as Ceridian continues to generate a substantial portion of its total HCM revenue from these users.

The company also previewed several new capabilities throughout the analyst day. First it announced the release of Dayforce Recruiting, which was made available with the 6.42 release of Dayforce HCM and targets existing customers. As I recently wrote, other HCM suite vendors also are launching new recruiting products. For Ceridian, this product continues the Dayforce HCM strategy of providing all products on one platform and database and as one cloud-based system for its applications. The unified design makes information across the system available in Recruiting, including job descriptions to populate requisitions taken from the HR management system. Recruiting, which focuses on providing applicant tracking functionality, offers an easy-to-navigate user interface for recruiters and hiring managers and includes most of the standard features of applicant tracking, such as job requisition libraries imported from the Ceridian HR management system, configurable workflows for requisitions and candidates, candidate profiles that take data from both online applications and LinkedIn, and candidate search capabilities. Where the recruiting product does not provide recruitment capabilities directly, Ceridian has formed partnerships to fill those gaps, including agreements with Jobvite for recruitment marketing capabilities, HireRight for background check capabilities, and Sovren for resume parsing. This expansion of the Dayforce HCM suite is well timed as many companies look to expand their workforces.

Ceridian’s team previewed several other capabilities and changes that will make their way into Dayforce HCM in the coming year. Highlights included a change in the design of the user experience to make the application more closely match how consumer social media applications work and a demonstration of new capabilities that strengthen analytics embedded in the suite. Presenters also discussed plans to enable the HR management application to handle global requirements, a new document management capability to handle HR documents within the system and long-term plans to add more talent management functionality to the Dayforce suite.

vr_nextgenworkforce_critical_workforce_technology_areas_updatedCeridian demonstrated an early version of its new user interface that moves Dayforce toward a more social and collaborative approach. The main page for users runs on an activity stream, much like a Facebook wall, letting users see and post on specific activities that are relevant to them – for example, whether they like their schedule or want to swap shifts with other users. Ceridian also is redesigning the product’s management functions to work on the same social application design concept. Indeed, including collaborative and social design elements into the interface aligns with our benchmark research on workforce management, which shows that the most desired technology enhancement is collaboration capabilities, cited by 70 percent of participants. Today’s new generation of employees are likely to be pleased that it works like the social media applications they are accustomed to.

However, one possible challenge of Ceridian’s new design is that it is based entirely on HTML5. Since the new user interface must work on mobile devices as well as PCs, the HTML-only design may be an issue: Native device applications are more likely to render and operate correctly on mobile devices. While the company’s management team said HTML5 is the direction for the new user interface,  I think it should further expand and support native applications for the major mobile devices as well that our research finds are important for deployment.

Ceridian also demonstrated enhanced analytics capabilities expected in its 6.44 release later this year. The new version will include richer visualization capabilities, the ability to search existing data with natural language, and features to help managers take action more easily on that information. These enhancements follow a trend among other HCM suite providers toward including complete analytics functionality within their products. It is also in line with our recent benchmark research on human capital analytics, which shows that dedicated reporting and analytics tools embedded in HCM suites is one of the fastest-growing segments of human capital analytics, with nearly two out of five (38%) companies planning to take this approach in the future.

The new human capital analytics capabilities or what they call vr_HCA_05_capabilities_sought_in_human_capital_analyticsbusiness intelligence includes several new capabilities, but a few stood out. One is the ability to export data and charts from the system and insert them into PowerPoint or other presentation media, which enables business users to share relevant information and take action based on outcomes from the analytics more efficiently. This aligns with two of the five most sought-after capabilities for human capital analytics: the abilities to take action based on outcomes and to present data visually. The enhancement Ceridian demonstrated that lets users search for existing data using natural language matches another of the five capabilities research participants seek most. Specifically users can type relatively free-form questions into the search bar and the system will dynamically parse and then build analytics, including visualizations, to show the results. These and other more general improvements will enable Dayforce users to do more with the system and help them make better decisions with the information.

Finally, Ceridian discussed its product roadmap for 2014.  Beyond its human capital analytics enhancements, the company plans to VentanaResearch_Leadership_Award_Winner_2013release many advancements for global HR management. It also intends to continue enhancing Dayforce’s talent management capabilities, which should serve customers well and help keep the HCM suite competitive. Our analysis of best practices in customer deployments in 2013 identified Guitar Center who uses Dayforce HCM and received our prestigious overall business leadership award. Ceridian approach to engage and support their customers is done through what they call their XOXO program that has a team of seasoned industry professional with over 100 years of HCM experience.

In the HCM market overall, Ceridian’s latest investments are further evidence of a trend by workforce management, payroll and HR software vendors like ADP, Ultimate Software and Workday to offer more complete HCM and talent management suites. For customers this evolution can result in fewer vendors to manage and generally lower HCM costs. If your organization is presently evaluating HR, payroll or HCM products including workforce management, Ceridian’s Dayforce is worth examining with its current available HCM portfolio and a continued expansion in its product portfolio.


Ventana Research