At VMworld 2016, we spoke with customers about how they are supporting digital business transformation (view our video interview above). Senior IT leaders, all describe a challenging but exciting multi-year journey, and all agree that technology is ever-more critical to business innovation, agility, and resilience. And they are embracing a customer-first approach. For end customers and employees alike, they want to make life and work easier, more convenient, more productive, and more fruitful.
The future is in the cloud for Ceridian, a leading human capital management (HCM) company with customers in more than 50 countries. The company’s solutions offer capabilities for workforce management, human resources, payroll, and more.
The Ceridian Dayforce HCM application, which the company acquired several years ago, was built as a cloud application. But not all Ceridian solutions are cloud-native. Ceridian CIO Warren Perlman is focused on transitioning non-cloud applications to the cloud, to “bring customers into the future by helping them solve their bigger business problems.” Moreover, moving applications to the cloud enables Ceridian to deliver a superior user experience.
For example, a cloud-based HCM solution can help organizations better support mobile users. Consider a typical retail business. Employees might work at single or multiple stores, and they’re unlikely to have ready access to a PC where they can quickly check their schedule. “So the only approach really is a mobile access setup that allows them to see their schedule, track their time, request their vacations, adjust their availability, and really do all the things that they’d want to do, especially when it comes to pay,” Perlman says.
Combined with the cloud, the company’s mobile-first approach can take user experiences to the next level. “If you have a mobile device, we can geo-fence a device,” Perlman says. “So now when you walk into a location where you’re supposed to work for your shift, you’re automatically clocked in. When you walk out of that location, you clock out. And it knows, depending on when you’re walking out, whether you’re walking out for a break.”
Support for mobile devices also helps with task management. “So you’re working in a grocery store and you want to have someone complete a task like restocking,” Perlman says. “The mobile device will pop up their activity. And when they’re done, they click and then the next activity pops up to tell them what they need to do.”
Perlman is working to bolster Ceridian’s developer ecosystem to facilitate the creation of third-party software that securely connects to Ceridian solutions. “The developer aspect is something that you build upon, so exposing features of the application through web services becomes an intrinsic part of how you’re going to manage cloud,” Perlman says. “How do you build the ecosystem to allow your customers to attach to your application without actually using the UI? The developer ecosystem becomes a very important part of extending the capabilities of your application.”
Ensuring Tight Security
As Ceridian increasingly delivers solutions from the cloud, maintaining tight security is a top priority. “The most important thing for us is protecting our customer data,” Perlman says. “Are your databases encrypted? Is the transmission encrypted from point to point? How is it managed from a networking perspective? Just a firewall is not good enough. You need technologies that look at your traffic in real time to determine where your data is actually going.”
The Ceridian security strategy involves regular testing of the company’s defenses. “We have third-party partners try to penetrate and validate our applications,” Perlman says. “So when a customer comes to us, we can be totally transparent: We show them where there might be vulnerabilities and explain what we’re doing to address them.”
Automation is critical in helping Ceridian maintain security without adding administrative burden. “What I think every company really needs as we start to move toward the cloud is automation,” Perlman says. “When you have a human touching things, you know sometimes things go awry. You know you want to avoid that as much as possible. So automation from a networking security deployment perspective—all those components are supremely important.”
Leading the Way
The Ceridian IT group continues to explore technologies that can benefit not only Ceridian customers but also its internal users. “What we’re continually evaluating is hyper-converged, converged, and virtual networking capabilities,” Perlman says. “And essentially taking that digital component, really making it part of our ecosystem.” Ceridian is considering applying those approaches to its internal applications, including enterprise resource planning, sales, and more.
As Ceridian evolves its use of cloud, the company is bringing its customers along. “Because we’re a cloud provider, we’re avid consumers of cloud ourselves,” Perlman says. “And we support the direction. My next big shift obviously is taking all the stuff that’s not on the cloud yet and making that cloud-capable, cloud-ready. But it’s not by taking those platforms and modernizing them. It’s by taking those customers and moving them up to our cloud platform.”