A Decade of Research at Ventana Research

I’m happy to say that Ventana Research celebrated its tenth anniversary at our recent Business Technology Innovation Summit in San Jose at the Tech Museum. This location was fitting, since at the event we introduced and presented our first-ever Technology Innovation Awards and seventh annual Leadership Awards. If you did not get a chance to attend, we have the live webstream available for replay at no cost; thanks to Splunk for sponsoring this to let everyone enjoy the sessions.

At our summit we discussed best practices organizations can employ to save time and resources when using technology across business processes. We also unveiled a series of new research studies on  business technology innovation, next-generation business intelligence, integrated business planning, next-generation workforce management and customer service agent desktop.

Our firm has strived for ten years to present research based on business and IT facts, rather than projecting analyst opinions based on handfuls of inquiries from IT-specific clients. We rely on primary research across business and IT as the foundation for our analysis and guidance, while most industry analyst firms provide opinions that do not represent the business priorities of organizations, because they research only IT. We continue to see the varying priorities of business and IT through our research, even where the alignment is not obvious. In our recent research on technology innovation, for instance, we found the number one factor driving change across business and IT is a business improvement initiative (60%) – and if you are not researching business, you cannot understand the dynamics of what organizations are doing to prioritize and select technology for business.

The importance of independent research that covers business and IT is essential. I recently wrote about the skewed research in our industry and provided analysis about the misinformation on the projections that CMOs will outspend CIOs in technology. These situations point out the sad state of the technology analyst industry, which needs to do some serious self-policing of its actions and behavior.

At our summit I was glad to bring forward some truth about technology innovation and the priorities of business and IT. Our new business technology innovation benchmark research uncovered some stark realities about what factors are most important for organizations to consider in technology in order to improve productivity and performance. Our research found analytics to be the top-ranked priority (39%), followed by collaboration (16%), mobile technology (15%), cloud computing (13%), big data (11%) and social media (11%). Organizations are using these critical technologies to improve results, and business improvement is the top factor driving change when businesses assess new technology. Many organizations are still working to address the largest barrier in taking on new technology, which is lack of resources (51%).

I want to thanks the sponsors of the summit: IBM and SAP at the vanguard level, Ceridian and Datawatch at the pioneer level, and Peoplefluent, Planview and Saba at the ground-breaker level. I also thank the clients who over the last decade supported our mission to provide quality research and education to the industry. We also could not do this without the help of the partners who have helped us promote and syndicate our research. I thank everyone who has supported our mission to conduct research across business and IT in an independent and objective manner and provide facts and education to help advance businesses’ use of technology and gain the most value in the shortest period of time. I look forward to the next decade, and to continuing to deliver the most direct research and educational value to the market to help everyone use technology to its fullest value.


Mark Smith

CEO & Chief Research Officer

Ceridian’s Ambitious Agenda in Human Capital Management

I attended the Ceridian analyst summit (Twitter #CENAday) in Boston to see how the company  is expanding its business in HR-related software and services into human capital management (HCM). Ceridian derives $1.5 billion in revenue from more than 130,000 customers with 25 million employees at organizations ranging from small and midsize business to two-thirds of the Fortune 500. CEO Stuart Harvey has been expanding the company’s management team, with key additions in heads of marketing and finance and promotions of internal management, all of whom were front and center for the analyst summit. Ceridian’s focus on human capital management meshes with our 2012 research agenda in this field as it tries to exploit the potential value of an entire workforce to meet the needs of the business.

Ceridian sees an opportunity to help clients with new human capital management applications like those from its new acquisition Dayforce, which provides more usable workforce management applications that eliminate manual administrative tasks. When I analyzed Dayforce’s efforts in workforce management I was intrigued by the unique aspects of its product. By acquiring Dayforce Ceridian has made a strategic move to incorporate more applications into its portfolio and build upon its platform.

At the summit Ceridian introduced Dayforce HCM as a platform and set of applications to address the mission of providing one employee record, one user experience and zero interfaces. The HCM platform includes a range of capabilities, including mobile access, messaging, analytics, workforce activities, payments and other foundation items needed to support payroll and tax, benefits, human resources, operational workforce management and even talent management applications from recruiting onward. The suite has a solid start already in Dayforce’s workforce management and now expanding into broader set of human capital management needs. Ceridian presented its roadmap for HCM, covering an expanding range of capabilities in payroll, benefits, payments, HR self-service and workforce management. Ceridian’s design principles balance the user experience with flexibility, accuracy of data and processing speed.

Some of the dialogue at the summit was led by Ceridian Dayforce President David Ossip, who provided an overview of the business in 2011, touting more than 500 client engagements, 200 of which are already live. The customer list is a Who’s Who of consumer brands, including Harley-Davidson, SkyWest and Bridgestone. David explained the importance of integrating payroll and workforce management, which allows managers to validate work and pay, and dynamically calculate pay for the day to provide an immediate financial view of the business. It is in Ceridian’s best interest to integrate and leverage its portfolio with Dayforce. An additional value of integrating time and pay with Dayforce is that Ceridian can now process 40,000 checks in five minutes using its platform, compared to the hours that it took previously with Ceridian aging mainframe based approach. 

Presenters demonstrated the latest Dayforce release, including integration points with Ceridian covering payroll and other HR services. Dayforce lets workers quickly see their earnings and can automatically populate W-4 and other regulatory documents to ensure accuracy of information across the applications and documents. These capabilities can be used for both hourly and salaried workers. 

Dayforce’s unique advantage from my perspective is in the user experience. Analysts and administrators can use its scheduling and visual workflow designer to route work tasks for exceptions and approvals. Also unique is the ability to render any interactions with a worker in the individual’s native language. Dayforce has built many of the tasks using prompts and wizards, so, for example, shift changes of hourly workers and notifications to managers can be done with a few clicks in the application. 

Dayforce performs calculations and processing in-memory and distributed across the client and server environments, which makes its application more efficient and more reliable. I did not previously realize the depth of detail with which the company automates specific manual activities, including changes of address and tax jurisdiction across geographic areas and calculation of changes in payroll and earnings. For some organizations this could save hours every week. Though Dayforce is not yet a fully functional compensation management provider, it has many capabilities that our benchmark research in total compensation management found to be critical, from calculations of bonuses and incentives to dispute and resolution capabilities. I was also impressed with the simplicity of its reporting and analytics, and the productivity improvements such as built-in search and type-ahead for dynamic querying and selection.

Dayforce enables smartphones to access workforce management and payroll information. It provides geographical location check-in for work shift changes, which those with older mobile phones can execute via SMS. Other new advances in workforce management are planned for 2012 including an Android-based approach with Dayforce Touch for time clocks, support of Window 8 and a new user experience for vacation bidding. 

Ceridian has also advanced into more detailed analytics and reporting with Ceridian Business Intelligence, which is built on the SAP Business Objects technology. A quick review showed some depth in its prebuilt measurements and reports, which could be an attractive component of its offering, but it is not well marketed or even apparent on the company’s website, though Ceridian claims to have more than 500 customers for BI. What they have really built is a workforce analytics application that according to our benchmark research is desperately needed in HR that are still operating in silos of spreadsheets and lack critical measurements to determine places for course of action.

Ceridian has other initiatives planned for 2012 that span health and welfare, COBRA and compliance. Its efforts over the last year have been impressive, with customer and product expansion along with new management team members who should help the business continue to grow further over the next couple of years. 

Ceridian with Dayforce is expanding into what I refer to as the next generation of workforce management, which I am currently benchmarking. The combined company’s platform and applications help organizations address their desire for better workforce engagement methods that go beyond time worked and pay provided. If you are looking to re-assess your workforce management needs and looking for some significant process efficiency improvements, it is worth investigating the power of Ceridian and its newest Dayforce platform and applications for human capital management.


Mark Smith – Chief Research Officer