It seems like every industry trends article I read – no matter what industry – touts SMAC as a game-changing technology trend.  If you haven’t heard this term yet, SMAC stands for social, mobile, analytics and cloud.  The workforce management industry is no exception.  I named all of four of them in my 7 Trends Impacting Workforce Management blog post.

The interesting thing about the WFM industry is that mobile and cloud are not new.  Most vendors have offered these capabilities for the last few years.  These are current trends because of adoption, not because of major innovation.  However, there is some very interesting innovation going on with social and analytics.  Couple that with gamification, and I give you my focus for KronosWorks 2014: GAS.  No, I’m not talking about how I felt after eating too well at B&B Restaurante at the Venetian or Olives at the Bellagio.  I’m talking about Gamification, Analytics and Social.

KronosWorks is Kronos’s annual user conference.  Touted as the world’s largest workforce information exchange – and with 2,500 attendees, it’s hard to argue – Kronos held this year’s event at the Aria Hotel and Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada, November 9-12, 2014. 

I talked about gamification and social in Axsium Group’s KronosWorks recap video.  Both solutions are intended to increase adoption and create higher employee engagement.  I knew Kronos was doing some work but was surprised to see how much progress they have made in both areas. 

Gamification is delivered in a free feature called Leaderboards.  With Leaderboards, users participate in WFM-centered challenges and are awarded points for things like a perfect timecard, perfect attendance or no-missed punches.  Points are tallied and scores are presented via a leaderboard.  Leaderboards can show scores amongst peers or teams.  Leaderboards will be available in Workforce Central 7.0.6, planned for release in December, 2014.

Social collaboration capabilities are delivered via a new module called Workforce Collaboration.  Workforce Collaboration allows users to share best practices, problem solve and motivate each other through public posts and private chats integrated with Workforce Central’s Navigator. Users are presented with a feed, like LinkedIn or Facebook.  A social widget provides key statistics about the user’s network including the number of new posts, users online, etc.  Users belong to groups and are shown content only for groups in which they are members.  Users can participate in existing conversations or create their own.  Workforce Collaboration uses Workforce Central’s org map to create the module’s initial groups and administrators can create additional groups as needed. Workforce Collaboration is available now in Workforce Central 7.0.5, released in September, 2014.

The third area that I focused on was analytics.  Let’s face it: workforce management systems generate a tremendous amount of data about labor costs and productivity.  Combining WFM data with data from other enterprise systems becomes a force multiplier, giving tremendous insight into the impact of labor across an organization.  The business value of being able to access, manipulate, analyze, visualize and share the results is tremendous, but getting that value can be hard.

Kronos’s solution? Workforce Analytics.  Built on MicroStrategy’s analytics engine, Workforce Analytics is tightly integrated with Workforce Central to deliver labor metrics and key performance indicators via browser and tablet.  With it, users can create dashboards and views to share with other users throughout their organization. 

I sat in several sessions where customers, partners and Kron-ites demonstrated how they were using analytics.  The best ones produced creative, tailored metrics and graphs that clearly communicated the impact of labor on the organization’s performance.  The challenge for most organizations is understanding what labor KPIs really matter to their business. 

To help customers jump-start their analytics journey, Kronos announced plans for a series of Workforce Analytics Plug-ins.  These plug-ins will be developed by certified Kronos partners and cover industry-specific solutions such as store performance or hospital planning.  Plug-ins will also tackle cross-industry topics such as the Affordable Care Act. 

Of course, my focus on GAS was only one perspective from KronosWorks.  My colleagues Chris Flanders and Bliss Gordon had their own focus. 

KronosWorks 2015 will return to the Aria in Las Vegas, and it will be interesting to see how gamification, analytics plug-ins and social are adopted with Kronos customers next November.