ADP Wants to Leapfrog Competitors With Next Generation HCM Technology

ADP Next Gen

While it’s not unusual for vendors to publish some kind of vision statement this time of year, ADP’s concept of “smart and personalized” HCM technology hints that the 70-year-old behemoth may be more nimble than most think.

In late November, ADP issued a release predicting that during 2020, HCM technology will become more flexible, more personalized and more team-oriented. Along the way, the company described “five HCM realities that will shape the workplace in 2020 and beyond.”  

  • A team-based approach is changing how work gets done as employers break down siloes and create a “culture of connectivity” built on engagement and performance.
  • Personalization becomes a top priority as both employers and workers demand app-driven, consumer-grade experiences.
  • Compliance complexity grows as jurisdictions around the world increase their regulatory requirements.
  • Data scientists and business owners adopt “a shared mindset” that enables organizations to make more informed decisions. Predictive analytics become “table stakes.”
  • Technology becomes more flexible in order to keep up with evolving workforce demands.

A spokesperson for ADP told us the predictions are based on internal research and conversations among the company’s thought leaders. If they’re not groundbreaking, they’re certainly in sync with what other vendors, analysts and commentators in HR tech have been saying throughout 2019.

The @ADP vision of “smart and personalized” HCM technology hints that the 70-year-old behemoth may be more nimble than most think. #HR #HRTech #HRTribe Share on X

But we don’t believe the company’s statement is a simple marketing missive. Instead, it should be read in context: ADP’s been busy this year, launching several products, rebranding and semi-quietly showing off new features to analysts and the media. While it hasn’t made any major announcements, the tone and focus of its conversation has certainly changed.

ADP’s Busy Year

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In March, ADP began a modest rebranding campaign with a notable communications effort. Essentially, the rebranding added the words “always designing for people”—“ADP.” Get it?—to the company’s logo. The campaign was ADP’s first 360-degree marketing effort and included its first television spots. At the time, Chief Marketing Officer Lorraine Barber-Miller told us the rebranding was paving the way for the introduction of new products.

Since then, ADP launched a next-generation tax engine that it called “a foundational backbone of the company’s tax compliance products.” It improved the accessibility of ADP DataCloud and rebuilt its marketplace to provide customers with a more integrated set of solutions.

All the while, the company’s been working on something called “Next Gen.” The project’s team (made up of several hundred technology professionals) operates in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, some 25 miles from the company’s Roseland, N.J., headquarters. People inside say the location was specifically chosen to make ADP more competitive with the Facebooks and Googles of the world as it recruited talent.

Over the last several months, ADP has revealed some parts of Next Gen to analysts. Not long ago Josh Bersin said the platform “could become one of the more disruptive systems on the market…. it sets a technical direction for Workday, SAP, Oracle, and others.” HRExaminer Principal Analyst John Sumser described it as “a universal tool that comprehensively meets the needs of individual customers.” Human Resource Executive named Next Gen as one 2019’s top HR products.

Can Next Gen Leapfrog?

Although it earns $14 billion in annual revenue from more than 800,000 customers in 140 countries, many observers regard ADP as a big ol’ payroll service at heart. But while it does have a large number of SMBs paying for basic HR services, it also has a sizable presence in the enterprise market. It’s fairer to say the company serves a uniquely broad range of organizations.

That gives ADP an advantage when it comes to growing its business. Specifically, it can put resources into product development for one market without neglecting the others.  

ADP expects HCM technology to become more agile in 2020. It predicts more solutions will move to the cloud and take an “open ecosystem” approach to facilitate partnerships and integrations. Customers will be able to tailor the user experience and create their own workflows, without having to understand coding or development tools. Whenever Next Gen’s rolled out for all to see, expect those concepts to be its foundation stones.

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Image: ADP

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