If you type “innovation” in Google’s search engine, it would probably be a good many pages before time clocks entered the conversation. But at nearly 40, Kronos has made the shift from a company that started out selling time clocks with punch cards that bolted onto your wall (how’s that for enterprise integration?), to an entity that is focused on shaping the world of work, and partnering with the darling of Internet innovation, Google.

Last week Kronos announced a partnership between its Workforce Ready SMB offering and Google Apps for Work (an enterprise application youngster at nearly 10 years old). Planned integrations already announced include Google calendar, allowing people to see their work schedule right in their Google account; Google Drive for document management; Google Sheets allowing for multi-device visibility into data; and Google Maps to help job applicants find locations near them. This May/December partnership is exciting news for Kronos and for Google for Work, but why should the rest of us care?

  • Employee experience is the killer app. I’ve been talking for years about the role workforce management plays in employee engagement. But today it’s moving beyond employee engagement and really focusing on the entire employee experience. Which means companies of all sizes are dealing with consumer-like expectations when it comes to delivering HCM. By offering a seamless and recognizable vehicle for delivering that employee experience, Kronos is upping the ante, seeking to offer employers and employees in the SMB space a better experience today, along with the ability to keep up with changing experience expectations through Google for Work’s continued innovation.
  • Laying the groundwork for the gig economy. I’ve written several places about one possible vision for the future of work, in which employees have a relationship with someone who manages benefits, makes sure the taxes are paid, and gives them access to scheduling capabilities while allowing them to self-select the actual work they do based on preferences for time, location and task. As more and more people are managing multiple schedules, and relationships with multiple employers, and integrated calendar view could be essential.
  • Retail politics. Kronos made another announcement last week, with the acquisition of Empower. Empower brings strength in the retail enterprise market, positioning Kronos with even more players who may benefit from the gig economy, both large and small. Retail is facing critical challenges today, including keeping talent engaged in an era of choices, and Kronos is clearly focusing on the space.

Anybody who’s been in this space for a while will certainly applaud effort of reinvention. Helping customers, competitors, and the marketplace change their view of who you are is difficult, but certainly being seen out and about with a partner like Google will only help solidify the evolution Kronos, and indeed the entire workforce management software space, has made. And we’ll see if this new couple can bring together expertise and innovation to make a real difference for the marketplace.