I had the opportunity to attend Ceridian’s analyst day in Los Angeles last week. It was my first major analyst event of the calendar year, and it was good as always to catch up with old friends and colleagues, both in the analyst space and on the Ceridian team. This is the fifth year I have attended Ceridian’s analyst day, and in thinking back on what has changed, as well as what has not, I walked away with four key takeaways.

We are where we came from. Ceridian was a sleepy giant of a service bureau prior to its acquisition of Dayforce in 2012. While combining these two companies and cultures has taken thoughtful and considerable effort, the heritage of service Ceridian brings to a SaaS solution like Dayforce will be critical to success going forward. It’s not enough to deliver great tools and technology, people want a relationship and a real focus on the “S” that stands for service. With its commitment on the XOXO Customer Success Program that brings together clients to share insights and experiences, as well as its newly named head of customer experience, Ted Malley, Ceridian is showing a continued emphasis on preserving the best of its heritage in a modern cloud environment.

The product and the team have evolved. I and others have said before that David Ossip is one of the most technically proficient and engaged CEOs in our space, and can speak to almost any aspect of the product or the business. What was refreshing to see this year was how he highlighted the strong team he has built around him. In particular, this included Lisa Sterling, who recently became Chief People Officer in addition to her duties leading the talent product. As she put it, she hopes to be Ceridian’s most demanding customer, walking the talk of innovation in talent management.

Automation isn’t experience. I’ve been speaking about employee and candidate experience quite a bit lately, but it was clear that Ceridian understands the difference between process automation and user experience. Their “HCM Anywhere” focus is about meeting people where they are – allowing managers to access employee information from Outlook, allowing employees to perform all of their daily tasks on a mobile device, and even using Odata to let people work in the comfort of Excel spreadsheets (a sad but true top customer request). All of these experiences are built on a common platform and data set, but serve up the experience in very different ways.

Why the platform matters. I’ve often said that people don’t want to buy technology, and particularly HR technology, they want to get work done. And most people don’t want to think about how it gets done, they just want it to work. But the fact that Dayforce is one platform and that operations are executed in real time is impressive. There is no lag from when a schedule edit or change in employee information is made to when it recalculates every attribute that data may touch – from budget forecast to the individual tax information on an employee’s pay stub. In today’s on-demand world, this is an important differentiator.

Ceridian still has much work to do building out its talent offerings, expanding into the global market, and continuing to preserve its leadership in areas around areas like compliance. But this annual check-in was a glimpse into how the team has positioned itself to face the future – and clearly they are positioning themselves with an aim to win for their customers.