Kronos Unveils Software, New Sales Approach at Conference
November 17, 2009 Alex Woodie
There wasn’t a lot of System i product news coming out of KronosWorks, the annual user conference for Kronos customers and business partners that was held last week. The trend of focusing on Windows-based technologies continues for this company, which has more than 4,500 System i customers. However, some of the announcements made last week in Las Vegas may eventually affect them, such as the new mobile scheduling app, rent-to-own options, and user interface enhancements.
Kronos kicked things off at the Venetian Hotel and Casino (one of Kronos’ System i customers, as it were) by announcing financial results for fiscal 2009, which presumably ended September 30. The company, which is privately held and therefore not required to report financials to the government, says it brought in $672 million in revenues and had earnings of $143 million before interest, taxes, amortization, and excluding purchasing accounting adjustments, FAS 123R charges, and non-recurring, one-time charges.
During the fourth quarter, Kronos says it signed deals with hundreds of organizations, including 24 deals valued at $500,000 or more. This led Kronos CEO Aron Ain to remark: “We experienced what appears to be the beginning of a shift in the economy during our fourth quarter.”
The company also announced a “major restructuring” of its business around core industry verticals. From now on, the company’s “initiative to always exceed customer expectations” will revolve around these industries: retail and hospitality; healthcare; manufacturing; services and distribution; and the public sector.
Product announcements were largely restricted to Workforce Central, the company’s flagship human capital management (HCM) software suite, which runs on Windows and Unix operating systems.
Kronos gave show-goers a sneak peak at a new GUI for Workforce Central that will debut in March. The new interface will present data using the popular “dashboard” approach, and will adapt to users based on their particular needs. Kronos’ goal with the new interface is a much more guided experience for the user, so much so that CEO Ain likened the new interface to a GPS system that provides “guidance on how to avoid potential problems, enabling users to adjust as circumstances change, and guiding users to the best possible destination.”
Also next year, Kronos customers will be able to use their smart mobile devices to conduct last-minute employee scheduling changes on the fly. Filling a vacancy at the last minute is typically a work-intensive task for managers, who can spend a lot of time on the phone to find replacements.
With the new Workforce Mobile Scheduler that becomes available in January, managers will be able to broadcast a text message to employees who are on a list of people available to fill an open shift. If the employee accepts the change, the software automatically updates the schedule in the Workforce Central database, without any additional input from managers.
Kronos also announced that the integration work is complete between Workforce Central and two ERP suites from Microsoft. Real-time integration with Dynamics GP and Dynamics AX helps to lower risk, boost productivity, and lower costs, Kronos says.
The last product-related announcement was Kronos’ new rent-to-own option for Workforce Central. Under the plan, customers can minimize up-front costs by paying for their software with fixed monthly payments rather than an initial capital investment. After 24 months, rent-to-own customers will be given the choice of buying a perpetual license to the software. Here’s the good part for customers: Kronos will allow them to apply a portion of their rental fees against the purchase.
The rent-to-own program–combined with the fact that the vendor will allow customers to run the software on-site or in a Kronos’ datacenters–is an excellent example of Kronos’ flexibility. But there’s no reason why the Chelmsford, Massachusetts, company can’t also do this for iSeries Central, its i OS-based software suite for Power Systems servers. Given the proven scalability and continued popularity of this product, offering it as a hosted, pay-as-you-go service would seem to be an excellent option.