Admittedly I’m a little bit of a geek about the impact of workforce management on workers and business performance. I believe that the data gathered and experience delivered through workforce management solutions like time and attendance, scheduling and absence management are bedrock for powerful analytics and business insight, and helping companies engage and retain their employees in an increasingly competitive environment. And I’m not afraid to yell from my soapbox about it. This week I was lucky enough to be surrounded by over 2000 equally impassioned people at KronosWorks 2015. Led by CEO Aron Ain, whose passion for workforce management and its impact on business performance leaves mine in the dust, Kronos shared its latest innovations and its vision for reshaping the future of work.

So how does a workforce management technology change the future of work? Imagine you are a huge national retailer, and you have the tools to let you open up your scheduling process and allow your retail store employees self select their shifts and fill out the required coverage themselves, yielding better attendance and improved loyalty. Imagine you are a worker balancing 2 or even 3 hourly jobs, each of which populate your Google calendar with your assigned schedule automatically. And if you find an instance of overlap you can initiate a shift swap or request coverage right from the calendar entry, without signing in to any other system. Or imagine you’re a complex, multisite manufacturing organization and you were able to see, at the push of a button, outliers in your data that indicated a decline over time in productivity at a key point in your manufacturing process. By zeroing in on the tasks that are taking longer you can discover a critical piece of equipment is starting to fail and requires longer warm-up periods, allowing you to make a business decision quickly, instead of just hammering away with a vague message to the line to improve production.

Kronos is enabling all of these today. Mike Zorn, senior VP of associate and labor relations at Macy’s was part of the opening session. Scheduling is a huge reason for retail staff turnover, as well as a time consuming process for managers. Now almost 100% of shifts are filled by employees themselves. Integration with Google for Work will allow employees to track and manage their schedule on their phone or other mobile device right from their integrated calendar. And Workforce Auditor, one of the enhancements in Workforce Central 8 brings sophisticated analysis and insight to workforce management data.

All of this is very exciting, but it will also require a shift in organizations that goes far beyond technology. More than ever there was a focus at this conference around change management. One level of change management is the tactical – getting the system configured and running and telling people how to use it. Kronos is addressing this in part through Paragon, it’s portfolio of industry specific base configurations organizations can use as a starting point for implementation. There was also discussion around change communication both between Kronos and its customers, and for customers to use with employees around the new UI for its SMB solution, Workforce Ready. But as more than one executive mentioned, this kind of change support and business impact linkage is not Kronos’ heritage. “We used to deliver software and wish you luck,” was a sentiment heard several times. Kronos will need to continue on this path of change support as it continues to add capabilities and customers, changing its own strategy and alignment as it helps customers to do the same.

The other level of change is strategic, as we have reached a point where technology can do things that organizations are not ready to embrace. Knowing where to look in the vast amount of data an organization can now mine. Rethinking scheduling and leave, and the relationship employers have with employees. Putting more power in the hands of users through self-service. This intersection of technology and change is where we will all find the true future of work, and is an intersection Aptitude will continue to explore in the coming year. But it is clear that Kronos sees the future coming, and is working to build its place in enabling it through technology, as well as shaping the strategic conversation.