KronosWorks 2014 broke all previous attendance records with over 2500 attending this year’s show. Kronos CEO Aron Ain was justifiably proud of Kronos accomplishments during his Keynote address pointing out that:
· Kronos exceeded $1B in revenue (to quote Aron ‘that’s a lot of zero’s”)
· Kronos will invest over $100M in R&D in the upcoming year
· Kronos was recently voted the best place to work in Massachusetts by the Boston Globe
The keynote was put together exceptionally well with Aron sharing the stage with Kronos customers from around the globe as they discussed how central their work force is and how Kronos enables that workforce in retail, hospitality, healthcare, public sector etc. Kronos also produced a brilliant set of video vignettes called 1 in 100 Million http://www.1in100million.com/ . At least one of these stories will bring a tear to your eye.
What are retailers thinking?
I attended the specialty retail breakout session and, I must say, for all the talk about customer experience and innovation in general I saw very few examples of retailers really trying to break out of the mold and do something different. Most of the conversation centered on ways retailers reforecast or tune schedules once they have been published in order to contain cost. Boring. Having said that, there were a few bright spots.
Some retailers talked a fair bit about their comprehensive Multichannel strategy. Cross channel branding going forward (so think of things like in store signage and bill boards or email blasts) will contain or reference the retailer’s website as sort of the first point of access to. The quote I remembered was “we want to build loyalty with our customers by the time they are 11 years old.” The challenge for retailers is to execute this multichannel strategy and make it relevant to the multiple formats that make up a retail fleet that contains its flagship stores, its specialty shops flagship stores and its outlet stores. Lots of different labor models to introduce new services to.
The challenge with this approach was highlighted by retailers with complex transactions. As more sales migrate online but are fulfilled in whole or in part at the retail store the actual effort to assemble “the sale” is migrating from the customer to the retailer. This is significant for retailers that have exceptionally big transactions made up of multiple items. Buy online pickup in store will be expensive transactions to execute because customers take no part in assembling the products they intend to purchase.
Product Focus: UI and Mobile
On the product trend side there was still a lot of focus on some familiar areas for retail, but leading the way was increased focus on the user interface. The corner stone of this was the commitment by Kronos to rid its products of Java in favor of HTML5. Every time this came up the room would erupt in applause. Obviously a major pain point for all Kronos users.
The angle that Kronos brought to its Mobile platform was interesting. Many of the industry experts speaking at KronosWorks acknowledge the profound changes the “Millennial” demographic was having on the work force. A big part of that change is how the millennial generation (usually defined as being born between the late 80’s and the early part of 2000’s) wants to send and receive information and how they choose to interact with people and organizations around them.
The result of this reframed Mobile as a “when” not an ‘if’ for retailers. No more foot dragging about de minimis rules etc. Your workforce is increasingly comprised of millennials and they will demand mobile options or they won’t work for you. With 10,000 baby boomers retiring everyday (seriously, that’s a statistic) you can’t not have millennials make up a significant part of your workforce. . While I didn’t hear anyone talk about actually capturing hourly employees time using mobile, I heard lots of examples of the professional workforce (like corporate users as an example) using mobile to capture time, and the Kronos app generally got positive feedback.
Wow, did the updates to ProfileManager ever generate a lot of positive buzz at KronosWorks. As a reminder, ProfileManager is a repository for labor standards and store specific characteristics. The recent updates to ProfileManager address a host of issues retailers typically experience when applying standards in Kronos. Now with ProfileManager, standards can easily be modeled and applied to a store or specific stores with very little work actually taking place in Kronos.