Ultimate’s New Products Point Xander AI Toward Usability

Ultimate Candidate Match

Ultimate Software unveiled a series of products and features focused on the user experience at its Connections conference in Las Vegas. Even discussion of Xander, the company’s AI platform, led to a look at how advanced technology can contribute to improved performance, engagement and retention.

Notably, AI’s ability to crunch data barely came up. Rather than concentrate on software engineering, machine learning and other nuts and bolts, Ultimate’s executives stressed the role artificial intelligence can play in reducing unconscious bias and streamlining self-service and HR administration. Overall, improving usability and streamlining HR’s workflow seemed to be the conference’s unofficial theme.

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Intentionally or not—no one from the company mentioned this during the conference—Ultimate also seems to be pursuing a strategy of interface flexibility. Many, if not most, product demos displayed multiple ways for users to access discrete bits of information.

The direction indicated by Ultimate’s announcements is another sign that the conversation around HCM products is changing. In March, Oracle took a similar tack as it unveiled new features for Oracle HCM Cloud. “We’re at the point where we really need to rethink the experience of enterprise software and start delivering this more consumer-like experience,” Emily He, Oracle HCM’s senior vice president of marketing, said at the time.

For its part, Ultimate’s vision of AI is to “amplify the power of people, not replace them,” said Chief Technology Officer Adam Rogers during Tuesday’s keynote presentation.

Embedding Xander in More Processes

Xander is a central, if behind-the-scenes, component of UltiPro Recruiting’s new Candidate Match. The feature recommends specific candidates for specific opportunities by comparing key attributes of job descriptions with candidate information captured from resumes and job applications. Over time, machine learning improves the system’s recommendations. Besides making talent acquisition more effective, Rogers said, Candidate Match will also help identify and remove unconscious bias from the selection process.

Xander’s also present in UltiPro Continuous Performance. Here, the platform provides “actionable insights” by recognizing patterns of strengths and weaknesses (or what Ultimate gently refers to as “opportunities for development”). Again, Rogers emphasized how improving performance management can drive improved employee experience.

Ultimate also introduced: 

  • Version 2.0 of its mobile app. The app offers new functionality as well as an up-to-date look and feel. With it, employees can securely access information, clock in and out, request time off and view current pay information. Managers can use the app to approve requests, view and update progress on goals, send company-wide messages and access various reports.  
  • On Demand Pay, an option offered through Ultimate’s partner rapid! PayCard, allows organizations to pay employees for hours worked before payday. Along the way, it takes into account deductions, garnishments and taxes.
  • Employee Case Management provides workers with on-demand HR support. Users can find answers to questions through a personalized knowledgebase, or submit requests that are automatically routed to appropriate HR staff. Case Management also uses “intelligent process automation” to automate HR tasks related to employee events.
  • Employee File Management allows HR to digitally store and manage employee documents in a single location. HR staff can create, access or share files, whether they’re generated in UltiPro or other business systems, emailed as attachments or uploaded from paper. It also generates a secure audit trail.

Another new product, UltiPro Giving, helps employers set up and manage charitable campaigns and facilitates worker donations. Available at no charge, Giving includes tools for administration and payroll processing, so contributions can be withheld from pay checks and reported on W-2s. Ultimate stress-tested the module with its own employees last year by facilitating and donations to 12 charities.

Because Ultimate makes a point of highlighting its culture, it’s worth noting that one analyst referred to UltiPro Giving as “uniquely Ultimate.” He was unaware of any other vendor offering such a capability.

Listening to the company’s presentations, it’s apparent mobile solutions are a major piece of Ultimate’s long-term plans. Martin Hartshorne, senior vice president of products and strategy, coupled the notion of an “ideal employee experience” with the observation that 73 percent of internet traffic originates on mobile devices. The business world, he said, is “well on [its] way to mobile only.” At the same time, Ultimate said, that shouldn’t be read to mean desktop and laptop versions of UltiPro are going away.

Disclosure: Ultimate Software is a sponsor of the HCM Technology Report.

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Image: Ultimate Software