Ultimate Software's Blog https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com Thoughts on Putting People First in the Workplace Thu, 21 Jun 2018 18:17:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.6 “People First” Software Key to Merging People, Tech in Future of Payroll https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/apa-congress-future-of-payroll/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/apa-congress-future-of-payroll/#respond Mon, 14 May 2018 13:12:59 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=1419 Payroll is like the heart of an organization: when everything’s running smoothly, it’s occasionally taken for granted; but if something goes wrong, the results can be disastrous. Considering the tremendous accuracy and coordination required, coupled with the daunting task of countless variables changing each pay period, it’s not difficult to understand how and why payroll […]

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Payroll is like the heart of an organization: when everything’s running smoothly, it’s occasionally taken for granted; but if something goes wrong, the results can be disastrous. Considering the tremendous accuracy and coordination required, coupled with the daunting task of countless variables changing each pay period, it’s not difficult to understand how and why payroll mistakes can happen.

Historically, payroll provided the perfect opportunity for organizations to begin experimenting with software technology, especially considering these substantial demands. Standard applications, which became more mainstream in the 1980s, used source code designed for rule-based and repetitive processes.

Over the years, these solutions have become increasingly sophisticated. Today, automation has reduced a significant amount of payroll’s manual strain, simultaneously improving overall accuracy. These systems can execute data transactions, generate reconciliations, and even draw conclusions from their findings. As a result, complex tax and payroll calculations are instantly simplified, and most tedious accounting tasks are eliminated.

These innovations were met primarily with excitement, but as AI’s evolution continues at breakneck speed (launching us into the so-called “Fourth Industrial Revolution”), some payroll professionals have grown concerned. It’s clear that jobs will be impacted—just like they’ve been in every industrial revolution—but most agencies predict that AI, and other emerging technologies, will create far more jobs than they disrupt.

Millions of individuals, including payroll professionals, will require new skills, additional training, and more support during this process. But rather than becoming intimidated by emerging solutions, payroll should focus on learning to optimize these solutions, reskilling teams, and homing in on strategy.

This week, we’re thrilled to be attending our 20th annual APA Congress, where our product and industry experts will discuss AI and a variety of payroll-related topics. If you’re attending, please be sure to visit Ultimate Software at Booth 523 throughout the conference and attend Thursday morning’s general session, “The Future of Work and Pay: How Will Artificial Intelligence, Data, and Predictive Analytics Change the World?” featuring Ultimate’s VP of Products, Martin Hartshorne.

The future of payroll is coming. At Ultimate, we’ll continue delivering the best HCM technologies, so your people—and your business—can grow at the speed of technology.

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Shattering Stereotypes and Ceilings Along the Way https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/shattering-stereotypes/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/shattering-stereotypes/#comments Wed, 07 Feb 2018 15:03:31 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=1232 Women in the world of business have long complained about barriers to their professional advancement. So have many minorities (and justly so). While there are laws that prevent discrimination with regard to job promotions, these career obstacles often are hard to prove, much less enforce. Many companies make it seem like the sky is the […]

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women glass ceilingWomen in the world of business have long complained about barriers to their professional advancement. So have many minorities (and justly so). While there are laws that prevent discrimination with regard to job promotions, these career obstacles often are hard to prove, much less enforce. Many companies make it seem like the sky is the limit for all smart, hard-working employees but instead some of us bump up against an invisible obstruction designed to preserve the generally male-dominated executive status quo.

I’m referring, of course, to the “glass ceiling.” Nearly 40 years after the metaphor was coined in a 1978 speech by Marilyn Loden, author of the book, “Feminine Leadership, or How to Succeed in Business Without Being One of the Boys,” the glass ceiling remains firmly in place, discrimination laws aside. A 2017 survey by McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.org of 30,000 men and women employees indicates that while both genders want to be promoted in approximate percentages, women are 18 percent less likely on average to actually receive one. This gap is even more pronounced for women of color.

“Women fall behind early and lose ground with every step they take (in the workplace),” the study states. Since women are underrepresented in line roles at every level of the corporate pipeline, by the time they reach the level of a senior vice president, they hold a measly 21 percent of these positions. “Since the vast majority of CEOs come from line roles, this dramatically hurts women’s odds of reaching the very top,” the researchers comment.

This lack of advancement is especially staggering for women in technical roles. According to AnitaB.org, the representation of women technologists declines by 50% from entry to mid to senior and executive levels. At this rate, researchers maintain that it will take 100 years for women in technical and non-technical roles combined to reach parity with men in the C-suite!

What is most bothersome to me is the message the study sends to young women and girls about their chances of becoming business leaders—not tomorrow or next year but in this century! So, I’d like to share a remarkable story of a customer I met who has blown up the glass ceiling with grace and aplomb! Few women have gone as far as Kim McWaters, who began her career more than 30 years ago as a temporary switchboard operator at Universal Technical Institute and has served as the company’s CEO and chairwoman since 2003, overseeing more than 1,880 employees today. Universal Technical Institute is a publicly traded nationwide provider of technical education for students seeking careers as automotive, motorcycle and marine technicians—what used to be euphemistically considered “guy jobs,” but now include many women.

Kim recently shared her remarkable journey with me. The irony, if that’s the right word, is that she had no big dreams of someday running a big company. As a favor to her uncle, she took a part-time summer job to operate the switchboard at Universal Technical Institute. She was 20 years old, a single mother needing the income to feed her one-year old son. “What I learned as a receptionist is that I liked helping people solve problems,” Kim said. “My job was essentially to coordinate someone’s needs with someone else who could assist them.”

Most of these needs came from students and their families. Gradually, Kim learned who in the organization could best handle each caller’s specific issue. “In a matter of weeks, I became very familiar with the entire organization; I got to know each person’s functional area of technical expertise,” she said. “More importantly, I learned that a business is like a village; to succeed there must be close interdependence. Every single person in a company is important.”

The summer she learned this, Kim also found meaning in Universal Technical Institute’s purpose. “Every three weeks a new group of students came in,” she said. “These were people who weren’t particularly successful in the traditional academic setting. Most lacked self-confidence, walking in with their heads down. By the time they graduated, the transformation in them was astonishing. The reason was our world-class facilities and equipment and especially our people. Everyone here is committed to changing people’s lives through education.”

I asked Kim what she thought about the fact that so many women eventually collide with their organization’s glass ceiling, knowing she had successfully worked her way up the ranks at Universal Technical Institute from the switchboard through admissions, customer service, marketing, and operations before blasting through the glass ceiling to become CEO. “Shortly after I became president, I launched an initiative called Breakthrough Performance, where we brought every one of our 900 employees at the time offsite for three days and nights, stripped them of their titles, and asked them to act like consultants in helping us make the company better,” she said. “We empowered them beyond their titles to provide constructive solutions.”

Kim learned that this was how the company should always be run. “Every employee must have a voice and every voice must have equal weight, irrespective of the person’s role, gender, nationality, and so on,” she explained.

I also chatted with Kim about the 2016 Gallup study stating that women leaders were better than men when it came to engaging employees, resulting in lower absenteeism and turnover, and higher productivity and profits. Was this consistent with Kim’s experience as a leader? “I generally believe that women are more nurturing and empathetic (than men) and are better able to tap into others’ talents,” she replied. “Women have a different way of motivating people to accomplish their goals. On the other hand, I also feel that some women can be very crippling to other women in the workplace because they’re trying to survive in a male-created business world. That’s changing now.”

I asked Kim to elaborate. “For one thing, many women now realize they don’t need to program themselves to act like men to become successful business leaders,” she said. “The extreme male traits that have made men successful don’t necessarily work for us because we’re different. Women also are learning that their feelings and emotions are positive characteristics in motivating others in the workforce. We’re able to be successful leaders because of our many dimensions.”

I couldn’t agree more. Female qualities are equally needed to manage today’s highly diverse workforce. Young people of myriad nationalities and cultures are self-defining their sexuality and gender. Women must simply refuse to believe it will take more than a century for women to match the number of men in the C-suite. We cannot wait. As Kim has proven in her life and work, everyone can have a chance, but we need to create more of them for women and minorities in order to level the playing field.

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How AI is Making Managers More Human https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/ai-people-management-hcm/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/ai-people-management-hcm/#comments Fri, 26 Jan 2018 21:38:30 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=1227 Note: This article from Adam Rogers originally appeared on Forbes. Artificial intelligence (AI) technology has been around for decades, but its capabilities, interest, and funding has skyrocketed in recent years. Machine learning functionalities are disrupting nearly every industry and our everyday lives, from self-driving cars to Facebook’s facial recognition. According to CB Insights, funding for […]

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Note: This article from Adam Rogers originally appeared on Forbes.

ai hcmArtificial intelligence (AI) technology has been around for decades, but its capabilities, interest, and funding has skyrocketed in recent years. Machine learning functionalities are disrupting nearly every industry and our everyday lives, from self-driving cars to Facebook’s facial recognition. According to CB Insights, funding for AI startups reached a record high of $5 billion in 2016. Further disruption is almost guaranteed as the exponential acceleration of AI technology continues.

This rapid progression is driven by advanced machine learning, systems that continuously consume and apply knowledge to improve accuracy and analysis. AI has already proven its potential for expediency and efficiency, completely redefining the way we live, work, and relate to each other. The prospect of AI actually improving human-to-human interaction, especially within the business environment, is particularly intriguing.

Human innovation paired with technological development is a powerful force. I’ve had a front-row seat to what that can accomplish in the HCM space, where technology has evolved from simply performing basic HR processes, to predicting future outcomes, to fundamentally restructuring how employers manage their people. Smart technologies powered by machine learning, natural language processing (NLP), and distributed data-collection interfaces are poised to completely transform the workplace for HR leaders.

Big Data Fosters Understanding

Running a business requires a substantial amount of data.

The term “Big Data” broadly refers to the staggering volume of information available at any given time. Today’s technology can digest these data mines with superhuman capacity and speed, applying advanced mathematical algorithms to find patterns, trends, and outliers. This insight can transform how managers approach everything from turnover to overtime, and provides an opportunity for leaders to better understand their teams and how to strengthen them.

Automation plays an important role in the data consumption process and is responsible for unparalleled advancements in convenience and productivity. Complex administrative functions have often plagued employers, particularly in HR, and these solutions alleviate the potential for human error while dramatically increasing completion speed. What used to take dozens (if not hundreds) of hours of human analysis is now achieved almost instantaneously.

This laid the groundwork for the game-changing power of prediction. Today’s leading HCM solutions leverage Big Data to forecast everything from performance success to flight risk, and these self-taught systems are incredibly accurate, extremely adaptive, and constantly learning. Rather than simply reporting on past trends, they predict future ones, empowering leaders to drive continuous improvement within their organizations.

Consider retention, for example. Turnover is a top priority for today’s leaders, as it can contribute to increased business errors, negatively impact culture, and cost up to twice an employee’s annual salary, according to Deloitte’s Josh Bersin. By automatically processing and analyzing a wealth of HCM data, predictive AI tools can identify the employees most at risk of leaving and alert their managers to proactively address the situation—before it’s too late.

This brings us to the next frontier for disruption: prescriptive analytics. Once again building on past innovations, prescriptive systems pull from predictive functions to suggest specific, personalized actions at key decision points. These AI-based recommendations can make managers better leaders, applying unbiased data to solve difficult decisions. The prescriptive functions can inform not only who to talk to and why, but how, based on what’s worked well in similar situations. Using the above example, the manager of a high-risk employee may be encouraged to take their employee to lunch, thank them for their continued contributions, and initiate a conversation about their career goals and aspirations. The additional support helps leaders coach and engage their people, leading to improved business outcomes, but the process also relies on the innate human traits of intuition, empathy, and kindness. It’s symbiotic, people-first AI.

Leveraging the Voice of the Employee

According to a 2016 study by The Center for Generational Kinetics, the best way for leaders to improve retention is listening to and addressing employee concerns. This seems basic, but it’s actually quite difficult to scale listening to the voice of the employee (VoE). Organizations have traditionally relied on annual performance reviews to accomplish this goal, but once-a-year discussions don’t always suffice (especially when tied to salary negotiations).

Employee satisfaction surveys are another alternative, but poorly designed (or executed) surveys won’t deliver impactful results. The most effective surveys offer a mix of qualitative and quantitative prompts, but these take significant manpower to analyze.

Fortunately, recent AI developments are solving this dilemma and improving employee-manager relations in the process.

Speaking Our Language

Despite the remarkable advancements AI has made in learning and prediction, users are often frustrated by its failure to understand the true meaning of words. Google Translate can instantly convert text from one language to another, and even basic Web-based chatbots can provide reasonable responses to basic queries. But until recently, these systems relied on literal translations and interpretations. Human language is incredibly complicated, brimming with context and subtleties, making it challenging for machines to decipher.

Enter natural language processing (NLP). This technology has improved incredibly quickly, and NLP solutions are learning to think and speak like humans. It’s the difference between a French 101 student and a native Parisian — the AI is actually speaking our language, not translating it. Machines can now discern emotion recognizing differences between sadness, anger, even sarcasm. It’s a breakthrough with incredible implications.

There are many potential opportunities to leverage NLP in the workplace, such as advanced customer service bots or email summarization software, but employee surveys are an obvious start. By applying NLP and machine learning algorithms to open-ended, text-based surveys, leaders receive feedback on what their employees are saying as well as how they’re actually feeling. Managers can keep a pulse on their team’s health and use these metrics to arrange one-on-one conversations, evaluate opportunities to increase satisfaction, and drive organizational change.

Improving Human Connection

Truly understanding how people are doing their jobs, what they care about, and what inspires them can improve nearly every aspect of the employee experience. Developments in automation, analytics, and NLP are making these insights possible and fostering authentic connection and understanding between managers and their employees.

In this way, AI has accomplished perhaps the last thing we expected: it’s making managing more human.

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2018 HR & HCM Technology Trends: Three Forces Reshaping the Future of Work https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/2018-hcm-trends/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/2018-hcm-trends/#comments Wed, 10 Jan 2018 14:58:31 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=1219 Rapid advances in technology—from the distributed computing reality of the  Internet of Things (IoT) to artificial intelligence (AI) to increasing workforce fluidity (as described in our 2017 Trends Blog)—are combining to reshape today’s workplaces. In addition, there are some broad cultural trends that are impacting HR technology, pushing us well beyond the automation of traditional […]

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2018 hcm trendsRapid advances in technology—from the distributed computing reality of the  Internet of Things (IoT) to artificial intelligence (AI) to increasing workforce fluidity (as described in our 2017 Trends Blog)—are combining to reshape today’s workplaces.

In addition, there are some broad cultural trends that are impacting HR technology, pushing us well beyond the automation of traditional manual tasks and redesigning performance management processes, to rethinking the way we manage employees.

First, AI is everywhere, but not without its challenges (for example, machines learning from biased data)—so its newest incarnation will have to be focused on not just mastering the science of AI, but also on the art of collecting better, more accurate data. Cloud-based AI, machine learning, natural language processing, image recognition, and virtual reality experiences have already been changing the dynamic among people, work, and communication—and we’re going to see more application of these technologies in the workplace in 2018 and beyond.

Second, hyper-personalization—from designing your unique, one-of-a-kind Nikes, to M&Ms with personalized messages, to online shoppers for clothes and groceries that remember your preferences and customize recommendations for you—is coming to employee management in 2018, and HR must help its managers lead with a higher degree of personalization and understanding of each of its direct reports.

And, finally, with technological advancement comes the risk of becoming removed from the “messy” human work of fostering belonging and shared purpose for our teams. Creating and maintaining an inclusive culture requires knowing a lot about people, empathizing with them, and sustaining that commitment long term. Current diversity and inclusion (D&I) efforts need to be redefined and updated to bring ongoing positive change for people organizations.

With this in mind, I believe there are three pivotal trends that must be of interest to HR and senior business leaders in 2018, each interconnecting with the others to transform the near-term future of work.

Megatrend #1: People-First Artificial Intelligence: Machine Learning and Human Intuition Combine Forces

In 2018, businesses will migrate from AI focused on automating tasks formerly performed by people to more complex AI technology that augments and amplifies human intelligence and capability. This next evolution of AI underlines the assistive role of the technology to enhance human performance, by allowing people to scale and undertake more rather than replacing human skills and experiences. The application of AI in the world of HCM reinforces the role of human intelligence in solving problems individually and collectively.

People-first AI means organizations and managers using machine learning to better understand what motivates employees, how to more effectively recruit and retain talent, and how to improve on the employee experience at work by using both their own skills and knowledge combined with the near-instantaneous analytical power of AI. This type of AI supplements the work that HR and managers already do, rather than replacing them—for example, by alerting managers to increasingly negative sentiment in employee feedback from one particular office that may have a morale issue, or by suggesting ways to reword a job posting to be more inclusive.

Megatrend #2: Hyper-personalization: Individualized Leadership Replaces “One-Size-Fits-All” Management

An astonishing 95% of people want to feel whole at work—free to be their authentically unique selves. Prior corporate leadership models frequently embraced a rigid, hierarchical “command and control” structure based on an employee’s perceived skills and capabilities, or encouraged managers to manage everyone on their team in the same way in order to be perceived as fair and equitable. Today’s workers prefer a culture in which leaders seek to develop the whole person, with a deep understanding that one-size-fits-all management is not an effective approach—and that different people need different styles of management to best motivate them. Some employees prefer public recognition and others prefer a private thank you or a handwritten note. Some employees thrive in complete autonomy while other employees work best when they receive confirmation from a manager or co-worker on each step of a project.

This obligation to lead and develop the whole person at work requires that leaders understand the needs, motivations, concerns, challenges, and goals of people in many dimensions. Leaders must nurture the cognitive and emotional development of people, beyond the typical physical-wellness offerings of many organizations, to help their people achieve meaningful, purposeful, and productive work and careers. The most effective managers will be able to flex and adapt their personal management styles to the individuals they manage in order to help their employees put forth their best effort and succeed at work.

Megatrend #3: Humanizing Work: Breakthrough Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the Modern Age

A workforce culture in which all people can feel they belong and be themselves—and one that taps into the most powerful combinations of talent and experience—requires a broader consideration of the tapestry of human diversity, and a mind shift from compliance-driven D&I models. Many organizations recognize that human diversity generates unique perspectives that foster greater innovation, sustainability, and cultural competence. But today’s D&I must go farther than categorizing and measuring to more broadly recruit for differences in opinion, experience, lifestyle, and background, and to also ensure concrete actions and follow-through to drive progress.

Rather than consider D&I merely as a must-do initiative or a socially responsible action to become an employer of choice, modern diversity, equity, and inclusion will apply advances in virtual technologies and neuroscience that allow organizations to move beyond the talk and numbers, to evaluate and overcome unconscious bias in the entire work experience—from recruiting to performance management to pay equity—to help companies create workplaces that are truly inclusive beyond traditional categories of diversity. Impactful diversity, equity, and inclusion effort requires attention on individual, team, and company levels—not just looking at an organization as a collective whole, but analyzing and assisting the company at all levels and providing concrete guidance beyond just static reporting—to result in better business performance.

These three Megatrends—people-first AI; individualized leadership; and  diversity, equity, and inclusion—intersect in powerful ways. For instance, people-first AI is an enabler to leadership that is tailored to every person individually, allowing leaders to break out of the one-size-fits-all approach to development, and ensuring employees remain engaged in their work, feel good about their place in the organization, are physically and emotionally healthy, and are able to collaborate freely, openly, and confidently.

People-first AI also empowers leaders and organizations to gain an entirely new understanding of people and how their diverse perspectives come together to solve business problems. This new technology is poised to help organizations create more innovative and effective teams, as well as understand and respond to the needs of their diverse customers.

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Previewing the Top-Three HR and HCM Megatrends for 2018 – #12DaysofHCM https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/previewing-top-three-hr-hcm-megatrends-2018/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/previewing-top-three-hr-hcm-megatrends-2018/#respond Thu, 21 Dec 2017 11:00:47 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=1209 As we wrap up an innovative 2017, HR technology is well on its way to expanding beyond the automation of traditional manual tasks. Cloud-based artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, natural language processing, image recognition, and virtual reality experiences have already been changing the dynamic among people, work, and communication. Looking ahead, there are three pivotal […]

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artificial intelligenceAs we wrap up an innovative 2017, HR technology is well on its way to expanding beyond the automation of traditional manual tasks. Cloud-based artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, natural language processing, image recognition, and virtual reality experiences have already been changing the dynamic among people, work, and communication.

Looking ahead, there are three pivotal trends I see impacting HR professionals, business leaders, and the workforce as a whole in 2018, each interconnecting with the others to transform the near-term future of work:

  • Artificial Intelligence: From AI to A2I (Augmented and Amplified Intelligence)
  • Hyper-personalization: Personalized Leadership
  • Humanizing Work: Breakthrough Diversity and Inclusion (D&I)

Stay tuned for an in-depth analysis of all three, and insight into how organizations can remain ahead of these HCM trends, coming soon to Ultimate Software’s blog.

Ultimate Software’s #12DaysofHCM is back by popular demand! For the rest of the week, we’ll continue recapping some of the most talked about topics from 2017, and previewing what’s ahead for 2018.

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Reducing Risk, Optimizing Productivity in the Finance/Insurance Industry – #12DaysofHCM https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/reducing-risk-optimizing-productivity-finance-insurance-industry/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/reducing-risk-optimizing-productivity-finance-insurance-industry/#comments Sun, 17 Dec 2017 11:00:39 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=1195 For finance and insurance organizations, the past decade has ushered in a whirlwind of change. Following the subprime mortgage crisis of 2006, scrutiny over financial management, risk assessment, and security measures vastly increased, and rate changes from the Fed have made tight profit margins even tighter for U.S. banks. Additionally, innovations such as Bitcoin, PayPal, […]

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finance and insurance hcmFor finance and insurance organizations, the past decade has ushered in a whirlwind of change. Following the subprime mortgage crisis of 2006, scrutiny over financial management, risk assessment, and security measures vastly increased, and rate changes from the Fed have made tight profit margins even tighter for U.S. banks. Additionally, innovations such as Bitcoin, PayPal, LendingClub, and Kickstarter are further disrupting the industry as they become household names and trusted, viable alternatives.

To remain competitive, finance and insurance organizations are doubling down to improve efficiencies. In many cases, this involves prioritizing their people and optimizing human capital strategies. Here are four ways advanced human capital management (HCM) technology can realize business goals for finance and insurance organizations in 2018, and in the years ahead:

  1. Optimize employee productivity. With such a significant percentage of operating costs going to human capital, productivity is essential. HR-related tasks—such as onboarding, time management, and compliance training—need to be conducted as efficiently and as transparently as possible.
  2. Reduce risk and improve security. Data security is a top priority. Automated data, role-based access, and multi-factor security measures help ensure adherence to Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) compliance and significantly reduce risk factors for financial organizations.
  3. Improve compliance. Dodd-Frank reform has changed the way most organizations work with auditors to address compliance. Advanced reporting capabilities make it easy to adhere to strict regulations, and leading HCM solutions can even create specialized ad hoc compliance reports.
  4. Increase Retention. Predictive analytics can forecast everything from performance to retention, allowing leaders to take proactive steps to keep their top talent.

Discover more on how leading finance and insurance organizations are using HCM technology to better serve their people and their business.

Ultimate Software’s #12DaysofHCM is back by popular demand! During these two weeks, we’ll recap some of the most talked about topics from 2017, and preview what’s ahead for 2018.

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Xander: It’s People-First AI – #12DaysofHCM https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/xander-people-first-ai/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/xander-people-first-ai/#respond Mon, 11 Dec 2017 11:00:17 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=1170 Ultimate Software’s #12DaysofHCM is back by popular demand! During the next two weeks, we’ll recap some of the most talked about topics from 2017, and preview what’s ahead for 2018. First up: AI. Xander: It’s People-First AI by Armen Berjikly Technological innovation is compounding rapidly, with emerging technologies reinventing everything from how we drive to […]

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Ultimate Software’s #12DaysofHCM is back by popular demand! During the next two weeks, we’ll recap some of the most talked about topics from 2017, and preview what’s ahead for 2018. First up: AI.

Xander

Xander: It’s People-First AI
by Armen Berjikly

Technological innovation is compounding rapidly, with emerging technologies reinventing everything from how we drive to the way we diagnose disease. Advancements in human capital management (HCM) are happening just as quickly, and the impact on human resources—and the workplace as a whole—is considerable.

Artificial intelligence (AI) holds profound promise. Earlier this year, Ultimate Software unveiled Xander™, our own AI platform, which is powering an increasing number of UltiPro®’s solutions.

Uniquely, Xander can understand practically any type of HCM data – be it numbers like tenure, or free text from survey responses, to help leaders predict their team members’ behavior, including performance potential and flight risk. These predictive and prescriptive analytics also encourage continuous development, helping leaders become better managers by providing personalized suggestions at key decision points.

Using advanced natural language processing (NLP) and machine-learning algorithms, Xander is also capable of sophisticated sentiment analysis. By regularly soliciting feedback from employees and deciphering their true emotions, leaders learn how their employees actually feel and can take steps to facilitate proactive change.

A breakthrough technology that is as sensitive to emotions as it is to statistics, Xander helps our customers better understand their people and ultimately drive organizational results.

It’s people-first AI.

To learn more, check out Ultimate’s interactive guide to Xander.

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The Power of API Integration and HCM: Less Time Managing, More Time Strategizing https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/api-integration-and-hcm/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/api-integration-and-hcm/#comments Wed, 15 Nov 2017 11:00:19 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=1146 As an HR practitioner, you may not be intimately familiar with how application programming interfaces (APIs) work, but you’re certainly interacting with them. The information shared between applications is how you can find a restaurant on Facebook and immediately get directions through another application, such as Google Maps, or read its recent reviews on Yelp. […]

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api integration and hcmAs an HR practitioner, you may not be intimately familiar with how application programming interfaces (APIs) work, but you’re certainly interacting with them. The information shared between applications is how you can find a restaurant on Facebook and immediately get directions through another application, such as Google Maps, or read its recent reviews on Yelp. Well-developed APIs increase convenience, save time, and maximize what’s possible when compared with a single application’s capacity. They completely transform our app experience and are cornerstones of popular consumer technology.

API Integration and HCM

Most organizations use multiple products as part of their HCM strategy. UltiPro is a unified solution encompassing everything from human resources to payroll to talent management, but our customers frequently need to exchange data with external systems they use to operate their businesses. APIs present the perfect opportunity to streamline this process, and I’m thrilled to announce the release of UltiPro Connect, our new integration ecosystem that empowers our customers and partners to tailor their UltiPro experiences to meet their evolving business needs.

Essentially, UltiPro Connect is engineered to simplify, standardize, and automate UltiPro integrations with third-party solutions or services. The benefits extend for our partners, who can easily build integrations between their solutions and UltiPro, as well as our customers, who can browse pre-existing integrations or build one themselves. Data flows freely (and securely) between UltiPro and other connected API systems.

The result? You spend less time managing shared information on disparate systems, and more time leveraging that information to support your strategic initiatives.

How it Works

Like everything else in life, for API integration and HCM, quality matters. The development process and architectural framework used will dictate how easy to use and effective these integrative solutions are.

We announced UltiPro Connect during HR Tech last month, and for its initial rollout, we are focused on helping our partners develop the best app-to-app integrations possible. With access to sample code, comprehensive articles, fully functional sandboxes, and our API Explorer (which enables developers to actually interact with the APIs instead of viewing static documents), our partners have everything they need to create, test, and tailor their API integrations before releasing them on the UltiPro Connect marketplace. As part of our constant commitment to quality, Ultimate will review and test each API integration before publishing it for customer use.

Access to UltiPro Connect is free for customers and enables them to browse, research, and filter the partner apps and services to find ones that best accommodate their business needs. Alternatively, customers can easily build their own custom integrations, drawing from the extensive information, simplified framework, and established community support available.

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What is the Best Way to Lead? https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/great-leadership/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/great-leadership/#comments Thu, 19 Oct 2017 12:48:40 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=1126 What are the traits of great leadership for the future of work? It’s a question I am often asked by audience members during my varied speaking engagements. It’s a great question, since leadership—like everything else in today’s blistering pace of change—must be dynamic. Leaders must evolve as employees do, to direct organizations that operate and […]

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leadershipWhat are the traits of great leadership for the future of work? It’s a question I am often asked by audience members during my varied speaking engagements. It’s a great question, since leadership—like everything else in today’s blistering pace of change—must be dynamic.

Leaders must evolve as employees do, to direct organizations that operate and are managed differently. I’m referring to the movement in many companies toward project-based teamwork involving both full-time and non-permanent employees, tasks performed on a mobile “anywhere” basis, and the positive trend toward employee inclusiveness, in which each person’s self-defined uniqueness is seen as the asset it is. (See my related post, Are You Ready for True Workforce Fluidity?) Certainly, this is not your grandfather’s business to lead.

Throughout the latter half of the 20th century, companies were often run with military precision. During World War II, 10 high-ranking management theorists were recruited by the U.S. Air Force to enhance operations. When the war ended, Ford Motor Company snapped them up. They inserted the military’s “org charts” into Ford’s structure, creating divisions, departments, and jobs based on a person’s specific expertise. This ensured work was appropriately doled out, supervised, and completed. Other companies soon incorporated similar structures across the industrialized world.

As one might imagine, leaders of these businesses were akin to military generals. They commanded the organization from the boardroom, rather than the war room. This structure was right (for the times) and proved its merit. American companies quickly became the best in the world. And then the Internet, smartphones, the cloud, cognitive computing, and the Internet of Things burgeoned to seriously change things—democratizing decision-making and communications.

So what is today’s definition of “great leadership”? To draw a clearer picture, I turned to the source of the last century’s business leadership model—the military. I asked Lieutenant General George Flynn, now retired, for his perspective on the subject.

Lt. Gen. Flynn enjoyed a distinguished career in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was the Deputy Commandant for Combat Development and Integration and the Commanding General of the Combat Development Command in Quantico, Virginia. He is an advisor to Ultimate Software and many other corporations, and is a brilliant resource on leadership strategy.

You may know Lt. Gen. Flynn as the inspiration for a book by the best-selling author Simon Sinek. Sinek had interviewed him to learn more about the Marine Corps’ style of leadership. He boiled it down to these three words—“Officers eat last.” Sinek was so taken with the response he named his book after it (Leaders Eat Last). I recently sat down with George to ask what he meant by his comment.

“It’s really pretty simple,” he said. “If you treat your team as the most important resource in your organization, they become committed to you and the purpose of the organization. It shows your respect and the fact that you care so much about them that they deserve only the best. And that includes eating first, beginning with the most junior officer and ending with the most senior officer.”

He added, “That’s the ‘cost of leadership,’ as I explained it to Simon.”

This leadership philosophy seems at odds with today’s corporate guidance. Few CEOs know the names of employees other than their direct reports. Many of them eat with other senior executives in a separate part of the company cafeteria and have large offices away from the rest of their employees. Certainly, this is not an “officers eat last” approach. Rather, it suggests rank—people separated based on their perceived value and contributions to the success of the organization. There is a shift happening in some companies where CEOs are forgoing offices for shared office space, and the impact is significant for employees. As George put it, “Whoever is leading must form trusted relationships with those being led.”

Our discussion moved on to today’s millennial workers. George commented that this generation of employees tends to demand more from its leaders. “They want to know the ‘why’ before they buy into the project,” he explained. “When they believe in the value of what needs to be done, they’re very giving of their time and effort. They’ll go the extra mile if they understand the purpose behind the tasks and believe in that purpose.”

Without this understanding, millennials (really all employees) are more likely to search for new employment. To keep them, leaders must ensure they have meaningful work that leads to the development of new skills. “Millennials need to be trained and empowered to take risks on behalf of the organization, to progress in their careers,” George said. How can today’s business leaders, particularly those at the helm of large, far-flung organizations, ensure full buy-in from the “troops”? George responded that there are specific times on any given day when a leader can demonstrate valued leadership. “We call them ‘defining moments,’” he said. “The moments differ, but examples include how the person makes a difficult decision or handles a mistake. Word of mouth quickly spreads to form an opinion about the leader.”

These opinions are the basis for following the leader. “In my experience, I’ve come across three levels of leadership,” said George. “The first is when people follow you because you’ve been given the authority to control them. The second is they follow you because they trust you and will, therefore, take risks for you. The third level is they follow you because they believe in you and your mission. At that level, they’ll make personal sacrifices for you. Down deep, all people want to be part of something bigger than themselves.”

I couldn’t agree more. When we feel we are part of something important led by a leader we believe in, work becomes much more than just work. It becomes part of our purpose and identity.

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Live From #HRTechConf 2017: AI and the Future of HR https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/live-hrtechconf-2017-ai-future-hr/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/live-hrtechconf-2017-ai-future-hr/#comments Fri, 13 Oct 2017 19:31:34 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=1119 “Artificial intelligence (AI) is the number-one technology you can’t afford to miss.” These powerful words came from Holger Mueller, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research, as he led the “Looking Ahead: Where Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning May Take the Next Generation of HR” panel on Thursday, October 12, the second-to-last day of […]

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“Artificial intelligence (AI) is the number-one technology you can’t afford to miss.”

These powerful words came from Holger Mueller, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research, as he led the “Looking Ahead: Where Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning May Take the Next Generation of HR” panel on Thursday, October 12, the second-to-last day of the 2017 HR Technology Conference in Las Vegas.

Ultimate Software Xander demo at HR Tech Conference 2017Mueller was not alone in his sentiment. AI and machine learning took center stage at the conference this year, with multiple sessions and panels dedicated to the burgeoning technology and its expected impact on HR and HCM. Subject-matter experts from organizations across HR tech agreed on AI’s revolutionary capacity, common problems facing developers, and opportunities for industry leaders to incorporate these futuristic technologies into their solutions.

AI-related topics such as Big Data, advanced analytics, natural language processing (NLP), and blockchain technologies were also discussed.

Many Ultimate Software representatives were invited to participate in panels and lead sessions, including Vivian Maza, chief people officer; Adam Rogers, chief technology officer; Cecile Alper-Leroux, vice president of HCM innovation; Armen Berjikly, senior director of strategy for workforce intelligence; Moritz Sudhof, principal data scientist; Jarik Conrad, senior director of HCM innovation, and Yasmary Diaz, engineering team owner.

Joseph Cutrono, manager of innovation strategy, and his team also participated in the conference as competitors in the annual HR Tech Hack-a-Thon. In just 48 hours, Cutrono’s team built a functional platform to help managers effortlessly evaluate competencies in their workforce and efficiently forge new teams based on desired skill set, emotional fit, salary requirements, and more. Audience polling confirmed Ultimate’s solution won by a landslide, both for the feature the audience would most like to have and what’s most likely to be incorporated into future HCM solutions.

While many session and panel discussions were speculative and future-focused, Ultimate’s representatives were able to speak on AI-powered solutions that are presently available. During the conference, Ultimate announced and demoed Xander™, its groundbreaking, “People First” AI platform that underlies UltiPro®’s ability to understand, predict, prescribe, and act on workforce data. Named after innovator Alexander Graham Bell, who improved relationships and brought people closer together using the technology of the telephone, Xander is the next frontier of meaningful people management (and, therefore, organizational success).

Coupling advanced NLP capabilities with machine learning, Xander can analyze open-ended text and decipher more than 100 emotions, 70 workplace themes, and overall sentiment with better-than-human accuracy. It’s as sensitive to emotions as it is to statistics, helping leaders to understand not only what their employees are saying, but how they’re actually feeling. Robust predictive capabilities can forecast everything from performance to retention, and prescriptive functions take this even farther by offering managers step-by-step recommendations at the most crucial decision-making points—all based on experience and what’s worked well in similar situations.

“Xander isn’t designed to replace people,” said Berjikly during the demo. “It’s designed to understand them and help them do their jobs better.”

Stay connected to @UltimateHCM on Twitter for ongoing updates and coverage from this year’s #HRTechConf.

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