Fifteen years ago, the Internet began to transform the way we buy, entertain ourselves, and socialize. With those shifts came the launch of technology giants such as Facebook, who in 2004, was ushering in a new era for online communication. As Axsium Group celebrates its 15-year anniversary, we look at how our industry has changed (and Axsium along with it).
In 2004, the workforce management industry was also in transition. Organizations had been unable to get an enterprise view of their labor data—partly because many used spreadsheets to manage their data, while others used legacy WFM tools or client server applications sitting on a manager’s desktop. Those organizations that used client-server systems would eventually migrate to an enterprise, web-based WFM system, centralizing their data to get an organization-level view of it.
In those days, as is often the case still today, the WFM software vendors provided core implementation services for their solutions but did little to consult with their clients around the business implications of a new implementation. Because it’s not really about the software—it’s what you do with it that really matters.
During this time, Axsium was founded to deliver superior workforce management consulting along with higher quality implementations. The new company initially focused on Workbrain (now Infor WFM) implementations for their clients. Early clients included Bank of America, Fidelity Investments, and Cox Communications.
The next few years would bring major shifts in employee growth, revenue, and acquisitions. Here are some highlights:
- In 2005, Axsium opened its global headquarters in the Liberty Village neighborhood of downtown Toronto.
- Two years later, Axsium ranked 27th on Profit Magazine’s Hot 50 list of young and growing Canadian companies.
- After significant growth in those first four years, the company was acquired in 2008 by Knightsbridge Human Capital Management, Canada’s leading integrated human capital solutions (HCM) provider. The acquisition gave Knightsbridge the ability to offer WFM consulting and technology expertise to its expanding portfolio of HCM professional services.
- In 2008, Axsium once again made Profit’s HOT 50 list and launched its Managed Services which provides clients 24×7 support for their WFM system.
- Important clients during this period included International Paper, Duke Energy, and Rock-Tenn Company.
The Great Recession of 2008 brought increased unemployment, followed by a slow economic recovery. While the US real estate market collapsed, and international brands reported massive financial losses, Axsium dug in and sustained its commitment to growth:
- In 2009, we acquired Labor Standards International (LSI), giving us the ability to further expand our services to include the development of engineered labor standards. This allowed Axsium to generate ongoing and repeatable cost savings that year for clients such as Follett Higher Education Group and Burlington Coat Factory.
- In July 2009, we opened our European, Middle East and African (EMEA) headquarters in London, working with Ahold, the largest grocer in the Netherlands, and Dubai-based luxury hotel chain Jumeirah, among others.
- Two years later, in 2011, our Australian office opened its doors in Melbourne, and we started our long-term history with the Government of Queensland and many top retail brands.
- In 2012, we started holding our annual WFM Forums in the UK, and since then have held that event at great locales all over England.
- As we came into 2015, Axsium spun off from Knightsbridge and became a stand-alone company again. We also launched Opus, our industry-leading work measurement solution.
- We launched a North American version of WFM Forum in 2017, and we recently held our fourth one in Nashville. We also started offering virtual WFM Forums, giving our global community a unique opportunity to discuss common WFM topics.
- In 2017, we launched Studia, our mobile data collection app available in the Apple App and Google Play stores.
- Over the last year, Axsium has continued to work with many multi-national retailers and continues to see growth in its EMEA and Australia businesses.
So, What’s Next?
Over the last 15 years, Axsium has grown and significantly evolved in many ways to not only lead the market, but also meet the needs and requirements of our customers. Fifteen years might not be a long time in other industries, but in the WFM world we’re veterans and we’ve seen it all. We’ve also carved out a unique trajectory that helped define what WFM is and how organizations can be successful with relevant tools and processes.
Today, all types of organizations still struggle with common WFM challenges, but these challenges are different from 15 years ago.
- As we head into the third decade of the millennium, we find ourselves in an era of full employment. Most developed countries have low, one-digit unemployment. This means that filling roles with the right candidates is more challenging and it underscores the importance of engaging and retaining your employees.
- It’s harder than ever before to contain labor costs. Today’s organizations face new wage pressures. Upward pressure on wages, some of which is driven by competition for candidates, and rising minimum/living wage in some countries—such as the Fight for $15 in the US—create compression and more pressure with existing employee wages. Rising wages put pressure on profit for all employers, prompting them to find ways to increase worker productivity.
- There are more generations working together than ever before. While some Boomers are retired, many are still in the workforce in hourly wage jobs. Meanwhile, Millennials are in full force, while Gen Z’ers are typically part-time wage workers. So, there’s a constant challenge to satisfy different types of workers while maintaining a uniform customer experience.
- Despite their differences in #3 above, one thing these demographics have in common is that every generation has changing expectations of how they expect employers to engage with them, creating tremendous WFM challenges. Customer expectations are also shifting, with customers wanting online and offline support, flexible payment options, etc. Engagement is also technology driven, which creates new demands on customers and employees.
Despite these ongoing industry challenges, we’re excited about the next 15 years. And to address these and other changing needs and trends, we at Axsium have made these commitments:
- As we look ahead, we’ll keep focusing on implementing WFM and helping organizations become more efficient with this technology and use it better over time.
- We’ll also help them navigate and identify opportunities with WFM and determine if they need to overhaul their tools (including the cost benefit of this investment and a roadmap to achieve its benefits) or learn to do more with their current data or business processes.
- Productivity, or how people work and which tools they use, will continue to be a core element of our business. We will be a source of insight for how organizations can drive more efficient and profitable businesses through labor.
We’ll keep focusing in 2019 and beyond on helping clients maximize the benefits they can reap from their WFM strategy and the solutions that support it.
Here’s to the next 15 years.
President, Axsium Group