India is leading the race in embracing wearable technology at work

From a manual activity, workforce management has changed significantly in the past few years. Indian organizations are now extensively using technologies like cloud, Big Data and mobility to improve their productivity.  Kronos, a known player in the workforce management space, is benefiting from these trends, and clocked a Y-o-Y growth of 50 percent for FY 2014.  Dataquest caught up with James Thomas, Country Manager – India, Kronos, to understand the major trends in the workforce management space.

Some edited excerpts:

In the Indian context, what are the emerging trends in the workforce management space?
Workforce management was mostly a semi-manual, semi-automated Time and attendance function in India, left to Time offices until the last few years. It’s only now that most organizations are taking advantage of comprehensive technology solutions leveraging new paradigms like Mobility, Social, Cloud and Big Data Analytics to get more real with driving workforce operations proactively in a data driven manner. We’re witnessing increased adoption of workforce automation solutions in the recent past. The rising need to make an organization lean and agile, the drive towards operational excellence and better productivity coupled with burgeoning competition is spurring organizations to adopt these new technology solutions to engage an employee better.

Wearables at the workplace, is another interesting technology paradigm expected to make further inroads in the next couple of years. Wearable devices could benefit the workplace by way of increasing efficiency, productivity, and safety. A recent survey conducted by Kronos, revealed that workers around the world are ready to embrace wearable technology at work, with nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of online adults seeing at least one potential workplace benefit. Interestingly, India and China are leading the race of using this technology at workplace – with India and China at 72% and 73% respectively. Smart headphones, smart watches, and arm/wrist computing devices are the top-three wearable devices that employees globally are expecting to be useful at the workplace.

Organizations are deploying innovative workforce management strategies to engage their workforce better and protect their number one asset, i.e. employees.

How do you see the role and evolution of technology in managing talent specifically with respect to emerging trends like cloud and big data analytics?
In the not so distant past, nurturing, managing talent and gauging the expectations of the workforce was largely done in an unstructured manner. Organizations relied mostly on gut feel and to a certain degree factored in the most recent performance of an employee, in addition to an annual two way feedback mechanism. Over the years, organizations have realized the importance of objective tools and technology enabled processes in managing talent at the operational level in real time or near real time proactively. Cloud and Big Data Analytics are driving in a new paradigm shift in the workforce management space to get real and personalised in engaging employees in the workplace.

Working with the right cloud-based workforce management solution partner enables organizations to focus on their primary business, strengthening their core competencies and business agility. The fact that 75% of our new customers are choosing to deploy in the Kronos Cloud is a clear indication of this mindset. From an employee aspect, cloud and mobility give them the ease of accessing relevant information anytime, anywhere.

By aiding specific, meaningful insights, Big Data Analytics is transforming organizations’ bottom lines via enhanced workforce productivity and increased process efficiencies. Organizations are starting to effectively leverage workforce analytics for evidence-based decision making. Industry-specific solutions, visualization technology, and new applications from specialized consultation and services vendors will utilize existing workforce management data to create contextual and actionable insights.

Can you explain your firm’s strategy to tap the Indian market? How do you see the Indian market for your products? How big is the opportunity?
The workforce management space in India is still nascent. When it comes to effective workforce management, realizing the productivity and compliance dimension can be quite overwhelming to most organizations. Saving Costs is a relatively easier one. Kronos is helping organizations drive personalization of the workforce, trying to uniquely treat every employee of the company by capturing multi-channel data, analyzing and engaging employees real time or near real-time proactively.

The size of the addressable market for workforce management solutions is approximately $100 mn. India is one of the fastest growing markets for Kronos globally, propelling growth in sectors such as Manufacturing, Services and Retail. To meet the growing opportunity, we are building a strong partner network with System Integrators including Capgemini and Tech Mahindra.

How have you grown in the Indian market? Can you give us some numbers in terms of customer acquisition year on year and name some prominent customers who are using your products?
Kronos had a great fiscal FY14 in India, with 50 percent Y-o-Y growth and is seen as one of the core markets to support international growth for Kronos overall. Kronos has a strong and growing customer base in key verticals including manufacturing, services and retail with customers including Mahindra & Mahindra, SAB Miller, Bharat Forge, Toyota, PVR Cinemas, GMR and FirstSource.

Our new technology centre of excellence in Noida is supporting the wider cloud strategy and is vital to longer term product and customer support strategy for Kronos. In fact, it is the only center of its kind outside of North America for Kronos. 25% of our overall global workforce is based in India and we’re planning to double this in the coming years.

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