Podcast: ADP’s Joe DeSilva Talks About Making UI Simple

Text Interface


Mark Feffer: Welcome to People Tech, the podcast of the HCM Technology Report. I’m Mark Feffer. My guest today is Joe DeSilva, president of small business services, retirements services, and insurance services at ADP. He just oversaw the launch of Roll, an app that lets small business owners run payroll through simple, conversational interface.

We’ll talk about the value of simplicity to end-users and what it means to HR technology on this edition of People Tech, brought to you by NetSuite. If you’re a business owner, you know that running a business is tough, but you might be making it tougher than it has to be. Don’t let QuickBooks and spreadsheets slow you down anymore. It’s time to upgrade to NetSuite. Let NetSuite show you how they’ll benefit your business with a free product tour at netsuite.com/HCM.

Podcast: @ADP’s Joe DeSilva talks about making UI simple for #HRTech users. #HR Share on X

And now, Joe DeSilva. Joe, welcome. We’re talking about Roll by ADP. Let me start by asking you to give me your description of it. What’s the product? What’s it do? And why did you develop it?

Joe DeSilva: Yes. Our research started quite a while back as we started to see this, whether you want to tie it to generational change, generational demand, marketplace changes, marketplace demands … We just saw that there was this growing demand for a quality self-service mechanism for the buyers or small business owners to do more on their own with a frictionless, effortless type of technology.

And what research led us to believe and realize is that there is this underserved market of what we would call mobile-friendly, mobile-savvy, on-the-go entrepreneurs that are comfortable with self-discovering a payroll product, self-implementing and 100% self-service, in terms of setting themselves up and of course paying their people.

That was the impetus behind Roll. And then, when you marry the technology of Roll … One was a discovery of this underserved market. The next was, how can we enter this market in a really meaningful way and do something that no one else has that could really be useful to small business owners? That’s how we ended up here today with Roll.

Mark Feffer: One of the ironies with products like this is that the easier they are to use, the more sophisticated the technology has to be to make everything happen in a logical, easy way. How does Roll do that?

Joe DeSilva: Roll is 100% a chat interface. It’s artificial intelligence of which you simply … We’re saying if you can text, you can run payroll on Roll. It’s 100% chat-enabled. If you can text, that’s how you set yourself up. It’s how you run your payroll.

In terms of the engine behind Roll, the engine is no different than that of RUN or any of our other products. There is a full gross-to-net payroll engine on the back. That not only calculates your gross-to-net, come up with your payroll, but also does all the implication tax filings and all the other tax stuff that you would expect from a payroll provider.

Mark Feffer: Is this leveraging a back-end, an engine that ADP already had? Or did you build something new?

Joe DeSilva: No. This is leveraging a back-office engine that ADP already had. We did not create anything new for Roll.

Mark Feffer: Now, Roll is pretty narrow-focused, when you think about it. I mean, payroll. It helps you set up and run payroll. That’s all it does. Are there more applications coming that take this approach? Because, obviously, small businesses have lots of little chores that add up for the business owner and they need help with.

Joe DeSilva: Yep. We look at Roll, right now today, as a complimentary offering to RUN. In particular, when you think of RUN by ADP, cover the start-up on upwards, and it has a multitude of services, payroll, tax-filing, where you can add on things that you’re referring to. Retirements services, insurance services, time and labor management, so on and so forth.

Today, the way we view Roll is it’s singular in focus. It’s payroll and it is taxed. We are thinking about the future of, “What other things can we tie to this?” But what makes Roll really interesting today is this chat, on-the-face, on-the-go technology. What we want to be mindful of in the longer-term, and there are no plans today … But what we want to be mindful of in the longer-term is maintaining the integrity of, “Effortless and frictionless.”

When you start adding other things up, then you always run the risk of potentially complicating or weighing down the experience. With Roll, you can run your payroll in 60 seconds or less after you’re set up. We want to make sure that we preserve that integrity. Although there are no plans to add things on today, it is something that we’re starting to sort through and think about for the future, again, while maintaining the integrity of how Roll was built.

Mark Feffer: Let’s take a break. You’re listening to People Tech from the HCM Technology Report. This edition is brought to you by NetSuite. Stop paying for multiple systems that don’t give you the information you need when you need it. Let NetSuite show you how they’ll benefit your business with a free product tour at netsuite.com/HCM.

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Let’s go back to our conversation with Joe DeSilva. I’m wondering also about, not so much adding onto Roll, but finding other areas of a small business person’s life. It could be accounts payable, it could be accounts receivable, something like that. And taking the same kind of wrapper. Putting the same kind of wrapper around it, so there’s a whole bunch of small apps that handle discrete functions with the SMV. Are you thinking about that kind of approach?

Joe DeSilva:

The short answer is no. We haven’t ventured down that road of how … We’ve started down the road of how do we add on other ADP products to Roll, but you really bring up a wonderful point around accounts payable and other tasks that a small business owner has. Not something that we’ve started to tackle just yet, the goal here was to … When you think about Roll, in the beginning it’s, “How do you get Roll to market?”

Joe DeSilva: Does it exist anywhere else in the marketplace? How do you get it to market? Prove that the buyers are there? It’s as useful, and it’s frictionless and effortless as you think. With the vision of what other things you could add on, other ADP products down the road … But it’s a wonderful idea to start thinking about how you wrap on these other, call it apps, if you will, to help the small business owner.

Mark Feffer: Now, ADP is known in a lot of markets for doing a lot of things. I guess that’s a way of saying you guys are everywhere. How does Roll fit into ADP’s ecosystem? It seems to me that this approach could be used for a lot of different types of customers for many different kinds of tasks? What’s your thinking? Or what’s ADP’s thinking about taking this approach and applying it to different markets and different products?

Joe DeSilva: Big question. What I would tell you is that, yes, you’re right. ADP does everything from the start-up, up to the large enterprise clients. Today, with how to step into this, call it, this additional … Or in addition to the lower-end segment, is this idea of this mobile-savvy, entrepreneur, on-the-move … This ability to come to market this underserved segment.

That was the impetus behind it. I will tell you, as we roll out this technology, there is this … We’re trying to wrap our heads around where else is something like this applicable throughout ADP in one of two ways. In its current shape and form somewhere else? Or can we leverage this technology for another component of a business?

All stuff that we’re thinking through today. But right now, to be honest, all the research that we’ve done and the build out of Roll in particular … Now it’s about going and really perfecting it. And getting it right in the lower-end of the SBS segment. And then, from there we’ll figure out what other uses this might have across ADP.

Mark Feffer: I’d like to climb a little bit in altitude, if you don’t mind?

Joe DeSilva: Sure.

Mark Feffer:

We’ve been talking about ADP, but I’d like to talk about Roll in the context of HR technology in the wider sense. When I first read about the product and looked it over, the thing that I kept thinking about was SuccessFactors’ Human Experience Management approach, which you know is chat-based. Very task-oriented.

How does Roll compare with applications like that? And I’m not trying to set up a SuccessFactors versus ADP shoot-off here. But there’s a lot of people looking at the user-experience and the user-interface trying to make it simpler, trying to make it more conversational. Where does ADP sit with that comparatively?

Joe DeSilva: I’m probably not the most educated to give you a direct compare and say, “ADP does this versus SuccessFactors does that.” The intention that we stepped into this was, if you think about any type of chat interface in general, it’s very limited in terms of what it can do in a lot of ways.

You need a report? I can take you here. Do you want this information? I can give you a report. What we really wanted to expand on in the chat interface and this chat interaction through artificial intelligence is making sure that not only are we asking chat to do something, but it’s taking very deliberate and specific action in the background.

It’s not just, “Hey, go do this.” It’s, “Hey, can you pay Mark today?” “Do you want to pay Mark the same as last week?” “Yes.” “Would you like to give Mark a bonus?” “Yes.” There’s a lot more intents built into the chat with a lot more action on the back-end. And that was the goal for us when building out this interface.

Mark Feffer: Okay. In general, the whole idea of simplifying work flows, simplifying the business person’s task, whether it’s a small business, but could be a manager in a large business too for that matter …

Joe DeSilva: Yep.

Mark Feffer: That seems to be gathering a lot of steam in the HR tech world. Roll feels like it’s a very natural entry into the industry. Could you just tell me how you feel about where the business is in terms of usability and combining the demands of usability with the flow of work on the customer’s part?

Joe DeSilva: Let me take a step back first. What I would tell you is anything that we develop, whether it is Roll or enhancements to existing products … In particular, for this conversation, the small business owner, I would believe that small business owners starve of two things. Time and cash-flow.

Everything that we build is built with the customer in mind and obsessed about the customer. In particular, a small business client, entrepreneur, what their tasks are in a day. With the ultimate goal of, “How can we give back as much time to them as possible?”

When you think about, whether it’s the chat interface of Roll, or just Roll in general … The idea behind everything we do is meant with an obsession with the customer and making sure we build with them in mind. And understanding that these are small business owners that signed up to go fulfill a dream in their companies.

They signed up with a partner to help fulfill that dream. Everything we try to do is a built with an obsession around them. And that’s important to note, because that’s how coming up with Roll just because there’s an underserved market is only one piece of the pie.

Making sure that you find an underserved market and build it so that it helps and contributes to giving small business owners back time is critically important to us. And it’s something that we simply obsess about. In terms of usability, you know Mark, it’s a little early to tell you in terms of how much usability will be passed through here. It’s early days for us. I really don’t have much to share with you yet.

Mark Feffer: Joe, thanks for visiting today.

Joe DeSilva: You, as well. Thanks, Mark.

Mark Feffer:

I’ve been speaking with Joe DeSilva, president of small business services, retirement services, and insurance services at ADP. And this has been People Tech, the podcast of the HCM Technology Report. People Tech is brought to you by NetSuite. Now is the time to upgrade to NetSuite by Oracle, the world’s number one cloud business system.

Whether you’re doing a million or hundreds of millions in revenue, you’ll save time and money with NetSuite. Join the over 24,000 companies using NetSuite right now. Schedule your free product tour right now at netsuite.com/HCM. That’s netsuite.com/HCM.

And to keep up with HR technology, visit the HCM Technology Report every day. We’re the most trusted source of news in the HR tech industry. Find us at www.hcmtechnologyreport.com. We’re a member of Evergreen Podcasts. You can check out other shows at www.evergreenpodcasts.com. I’m Mark Feffer.

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