Podcast: ADP Marketplace’s Craig Cohen On How Integrations Should Work

ADP Marketplace


Mark Feffer: I’m Mark Feffer and this is People Tech, news from the world of HR technology, from the HCM Technology Report. This edition of People Tech is brought to you by advos HR Workplace Edition. It provides the information and tools you need to elevate your company’s brand using a collaboration and advocacy platform that makes it easy for your team to amplify your employer message. advos HR/Workplace Edition. Learn more at www.advos.io. That’s www.A-D-V-O-S.io.

Today, I’m joined by Craig Cohen, who’s the general manager of ADP Marketplace. ADP calls it the largest HCM app store in the world, that brings together partners to create an ecosystem of products where customers can put together their own HR solutions using apps that connect to ADP’s platforms and data.

On our latest podcast, @ADP's Craig Cohen describes how app stores succeed by putting the customer at center stage. #HR #HRTech Share on X

Craig, Thanks for joining us. Let’s start with the marketplace itself. Let me ask you first, could you just sort of give me a brief description of what it is and what it’s meant to be?

Craig Cohen: Sure. The way to look at ADP Marketplace is there’s two aspects to it. One is the platform side of the ADP Marketplace, which allows, it’s basically a gateway and a platform that allows APIs between ADP and third parties to be built and consume, and be distributed in a very easy format. So, that’s the first side. So, think about it not as true, like a true partner to partner side, but think about our clients and their needs to access their data and attach it to other systems.

The side that most people know the ADP Marketplace for though as the second half, which is more of the, it’s more of the retail/B2B side, where clients can go out and find third-party products to discover, buy, and implement all in one place.

Mark Feffer: Now, ADP likes to call the Marketplace game-changing. It says there’s nothing like it. What’s so special about it?

Craig Cohen: So most HCM providers are very good at providing their solution. When they go out to a client or a prospect, they’re recommending what’s best for the company themselves. And so I think what’s happened, it’s more of an attitude change with the way we look at it, where we say, “Hey, let’s go out and talk to a client or prospect, and let’s actually find out what their needs and pain points are. And then we can pick and choose from all different sources. It doesn’t have to be just ADP, to give them the best solution to fit their needs.”

So, that’s where we consider that game changing. And by the way, if that’s only one part of it. The other part of it is how do we do it where there are no gaps, where the data flows automatically, where they don’t have to go to a professional services team or a third-party to build an integration, or use IT resources to make things work together. We’re doing it all out of the box, all real-time. So, I think that just provides the client a much better experience than they ever would’ve gotten before.

Mark Feffer: And is there anybody else out there who’s doing anything like this?

ADP's Craig Cohen
ADP’s Craig Cohen

Craig Cohen: There are HCM providers that do have marketplaces. I would say to the extent that we have and what we do, we’re the only ones that have certain things. I say there’s eight big differentiators between us and most common marketplaces. The first one is API maturity. A lot of marketplaces have APIs, there’s this big developer toolkit. They put it out there for clients to see, but it’s really difficult, and you need to know APIs. You kind of have to be able to figure out how to build to it, and you’ve got to have all the resources to make it work together. So, we have this API maturity in this platform, that allows you to go and pull, and basically drag and drop APIs to make them work with your own APIs.

The second thing is we’re one of the few market places or we’re the only HCM marketplace that allows you to discover and buy an implement on the fly. So a lot of them are, you go to their marketplace, you click on the third-party app that you’re interested in, and then it takes you to that third party’s website. Where then you go through its own process for discovery, purchase, communicate with them about implementation, things like that. So we’ve got API maturity, we’ve got eCommerce.

The biggest one that I usually like to say to the end, but I’ll put it now as route security, because it’s tied to both of those first two things. Most times when you build integrations it’s either file-based or it’s API, there’s nothing really in the middle that makes sure that the data flowing is secure and safe. Because it can be going out to AWS. It could be going to Azure. It could to go on a Google Cloud. It could be going anywhere and it can be sitting where anybody accesses that data and you know with HCM, that’s payroll information, it’s social security, it’s addresses. It’s a lot of confidential information.

So we put all of our partners through a very stringent test that allows, make sure that they’re secure. There’s a one pipe that protects any data that’s going to be hacked into and then we’re not only do it when we first kick off the partnership, but we do it annually with every single partner. So that’s a huge competitive differentiator that I don’t think any other HCM marketplace offers.

We have a vertical focus, so we’ve broken out all of our partners in the vertical focuses where the biggest feedback we heard from our clients and our prospects were, “Hey, like it’s great that you have this marketplace. They’re 400 apps on there. I just want to know my industry, my role, what people are using and how they use it.” So we’ve broken down to nice vertical chunks where we’ve actually gone to every single partner and said, “Hey, what verticals do you work in? Why do you work in them? We need really specific examples.”

So now when a client goes out there and find if they’re a construction or manufacturing or a restaurant or whatever it is, they can actually pick and choose items that are specific to that specific vertical. And then I would tell you the last piece of this is our sales reps are taken care of. Just like if they’re selling an ADP product, they’re taken care of by some third-party products. So there’s no advantage for them anymore to just sell ADP products. Like they’re really doing what’s best for the client because there isn’t that compensation thing that gets in the way when you talk to sales reps with most HCMS.

Mark Feffer: So, there’s a huge range of products available in the marketplace. Is there an overlap? Do you ever find yourself competing with yourself if you know what I mean?

Craig Cohen: All the time. So if you look at ATS, you look at Ben Admin, you look at performance, you look at onboarding. When you look at even time and attendance, we’ve made a mandate and Carlos, our CEO has been amazing with this. He said, “Hey, listen we’re going to be truly open. And once again, like we have to change the way we think and the only type of competitor that we’re not going to allow on the marketplace is another payroll company” or a true just HCM that competes against our true HR technology, but all the ancillary we’ve got to offer what’s best for the clients. And so now with all those ancillary services, the clients have plenty of choices.

Mark Feffer: One of the things about ADP is you cover a huge spectrum of businesses, from very small businesses with payroll up to enterprise level companies. Who is the marketplace really tailored for?

Craig Cohen: All of the above. When we go out and we find partners to work with us, they come on board, we ask them specifically, Hey, who’s your target market? Who do you want to work with?” And we have found as it covers the spectrum. So if you go to the ADP marketplace, you can search by your size of your company like I mentioned earlier, the vertical, your role. So we’ve got solutions for example, an applicant tracking.

We’ve got solutions that are focused to the easy integration with ZipRecruiter and need quick, easy to get out there for a small business to the enterprise, which is like ICMs. So it really, there isn’t one specific type or size of client. I say we’re the peanut butter across ADP. We really spread the whole range.

Mark Feffer: It makes me wonder that if you’re looking at companies or if you consider companies who are say less than a hundred employees. It feels almost like the business owner in that case could go to the marketplace and kind of assemble their whole suite of HR technology pretty much everything that they need. So aren’t you in effect competing with the Bamboo HRs of the world and companies like that?

Craig Cohen: Yes. So we’ve already compete with Bamboo, right? So Bamboo has a payroll HR, some applicant tracking, but we’re taking it one step further than Bamboo. So if you’re a small business, think of yourself as mom and pop shop USA. You have a retail business that sits on Main Street and you have 72 employees and you have a need. Well, it’s not only payroll, HR, applicant tracking, that type of thing, but it’s a place to help you find talent. Maybe you need integration with your POS system because you know you have toast or square, whatever it is, and you need some kind of integration.

It could be, “Hey, I’m struggling with getting my ads onto Facebook” or “Hey, I want better collaborations for scheduling because I have a millennial staff. I want to be able to text all of them and say, who can take this shift.” So it’s above and beyond just that true competition against the Bamboos and the Gustos and the Zenefits, and all of those in the under hundred space. It’s a step beyond that because now we’re hitting all the [inaudible 00:09:49] that you wouldn’t think of ADP or Gusto or Zenefits or Bamboo for. That’s where the value is.

Mark Feffer: It seems to me that there’s this huge opportunity for someone who can serve micro-businesses with HR technology. If someone could come out and be the Intuit of HR. Is the marketplace putting you in a good position to take advantage of that trend and if it does put you in a good position, was that part of your thinking?

Craig Cohen: Yes. We’re looking at how do we penetrate and how do we become the true go-to like you said, Intuit. Fantastic for QuickBooks, does a great job with QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks where you get out and a small business, and a CPA that works with a small business recommends them. We’re trying to penetrate the same way. So when they think of QuickBooks for running their financials, they’re thinking of ADP of how to run their people.

So absolutely that’s the one that’s one of the definite possibilities. And by the way, we also partner with Intuit and TSheets and QuickBooks and online with integration. So we look at it as if you have one, you have the other and they’re both working together, you’ve got the full solution to make your business run appropriately.

Mark Feffer: With HR tech coming out and it’s also getting into the homestretch of 2019, do you have things coming up that you can preview a little bit?

Craig Cohen: Yeah, so we’ve got some pretty key ones. So the first one is how do we give the experience that our clients have today that buys third-party products digitally? Like, so today you go to the marketplace, you can find a third-party product, you can watch videos, you can see reviews, you can click, you can buy, and you can implement all there on the fly. But today you can’t do that with ADP products.

Think about if you’re a client and there’s additional products that you want from ADP, you’ve got to go through that old process. You got to call a service or the sales rep and say, “Hey, can you help me?” Well, now it’s not the way people buy today. Think about your own buying experience, Mark. Like you go out, you find it, you buy it, and you go to Amazon. If you don’t like it, you cancel it or you return it. I want to make the same experience for all of ADP, all the ADP products.

And another thing is you mentioned earlier about like hey, you go out and can your small business or even if you’re a mid tech business or enterprise and you’re looking to build a full solution, you could do it through the marketplace. But it’s all a la carte. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to go out and say, “Hey, I’m a construction company. I’m 85 employees. I want a bundle that solves my time and labor issues. Solves my certified payroll issue, solves my job costing issue, and gets my people paid right away, and has 30 machines that sit on site at my construction site that I feel safe about.”

Well, now you can just go to the vertical bundle and it comes with a whole solution at a discounted rate. So working on that peg bundle, the last piece that I think is really, really important is we’re trying to solve the problem of integrations fit long-term. So today there’s a lot of people like Workday and Ocado. MuleSoft, which Salesforce bought. There’s a lot of different third-party integrators, but what happens with those third-party integrators is it gets expensive, right? You get a scope of work.

You say, “Hey, I need these two to work together.” Next thing you know they quote you $15,000 to do it and then six to nine months later you’re spending $35,000 instead of the 15,000 you were quoted because it took longer and there are nuances. So we’re trying to do is build a managed integrations team that builds straight out of the box integrations. For even people that don’t, we don’t send referrals to them just to make it easy for all of our clients to be able to go out and say like, “Hey, I need an integration with Oracle. I need an integration with Workday. I need integration with SAP.”

For whatever the integration they need instead of having to deal with a professional services group to be able to buy it straight out of the box. There is no scope crease, there is no change and it goes live within six clicks, and your live within a couple hours.

Mark Feffer: Which sounds like it would be a huge undertaking. I mean a very attractive one for customers, integrations have become such a big part of the business now. But how do you think your whole approach to integration with the marketplace? How big a factor is that to customers? How important is that aspect do you think when they’re making their buying decisions?

Craig Cohen: So we’ve heard from our studies and from the research we’ve done, the first thing is security is always their number one priority when they talk about integration. Number two is ease of use. Because what happens with HR is they have all these different products and what’s happening is … with HR tech, with all the different vendors, really even small companies are going best of breed. Like it used to be one place to buy everything and now they’re really picking and choosing.

And that’s why there’s all these little snowflakes that applicant tracking, and all the different types of products that are coming out. So they want the two products to work together and they want it easy. So integrations have become a huge piece of this. And not only do they want it to work well, work secure, but they also want immediate satisfaction. They don’t want to have to wait six months for it to happen. So it’s speed, it’s security and it’s ease of use.

Mark Feffer: Craig, thanks very much for your time and have a great show at HR Tech.

Craig Cohen: Thanks. Hopefully, I’ll see you there.

Craig Cohen is general manager of ADP marketplace. He joined me on People Tech, the podcast of the HCM Technology Report. This edition was brought to you by advos HR Workplace Edition, a collaboration and advocacy platform that makes it easy to amplify your employer message.

Learn more at www.advos.io and to keep up with the most important developments in HR technology, visit the HCM Technology Report everyday. We’re the most trusted source of news in the HR tech industry. Find us at www.hcmtechnologyreport.com. I’m Mark Feffer.

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