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It’s cool and in demand to be a “data geek”

September 17, 2014

Lisa-Pratt-1I love to “be the data,” but only in small bytes. I’d much rather just make stuff up than have to prove it with data. Today, I’m pleased to introduce Lisa Pratt as your blogger of the day. This is the first of a series from Lisa on data analytics, but it’s not all geeky. She’s a storyteller, too! Lisa is the self-described “Senior Director of Marketing Measurement and Analytics at Kronos, responsible for delivering insight into how our strategies translate into brand awareness, quality leads, and revenue across our key industry and customer segments. Lisa has been at Kronos for 4½ years, but her entire 20+ year career has been spent analyzing large amounts of marketing and customer data to drive better business decisions.”

I have always been a math person. I steadfastly maintained throughout my days in high school, college and graduate school (twice) that I would rather do three hours of math problems than one hour of reading or writing. And I still feel that way. I look around my world and see all sorts of opportunities to leverage, what I call, personal analytics. For example, when an auction at my children’s elementary school fell short of its fundraising target, others just blamed the economy and hoped things would improve next year. I took a different approach and suggested that we analyze the items, where they appeared in the auction, and the prices that they sold for relative to their market value so the next year we could optimize the mix of physical goods, services, and experiences, live vs silent items, opening bid amounts, etc. Armed with this knowledge, we would get as much as we could within the economic conditions we were dealt. Others didn’t have the energy for this sort of post-mortem and if you have ever hosted a charity auction, you can understand their fatigue. But I thought that if we were going to put in all that effort to maximize our revenue, why not use any data we have to influence the outcome?

monkeysinthebackroomSince I look at all situations as solvable with some data, good analysis, and a solid story, it seemed only natural for me to go into marketing analysis as a career. What I didn’t realize as I was totally happy being knee deep is a stew of numbers, was that being a data geek was not cool. And, while Marketing was cool, marketing analysis was not. It ranked among actuarial and accounting on the hierarchy of being able to talk about your job at a party, even if you are frequently mistaken for Gisele, as I am ;-). At a previous employer, on a conference call someone referred to me and my team of analysts as “the monkey’s in the back room.” I quickly took my phone off mute and reminded them that I was on the phone. I did get a nice apology later, but it still stung. What I soon found out is that analysts and statisticians were just a little ahead of our time and we would get the last laugh once the transformation of business into a culture of numbers and measurement happened. Now, companies are realizing the power of their data so long as they have technology and people to unlock it’s meaning. And, guess what – they are listening intently to those same monkeys.

To whomever coined and publicized the term Big Data and Analytics, thank you! No one is happier about the lipstick that has been slapped on data analysis than data analysts and statisticians, like me. Suddenly, it is both cool and in demand to be a data geek.

Desperately Seeking Content

September 16, 2014

writers-blockI picked a bad month to get writer’s block. Maybe I also picked a bad month to shoot for a billion blog views since it’s the busiest time of year for me in my day job. So while I wait for a bio on a guest blogger with fantastic posts on the everyday value of analytics, not just the workforce kind, poking around YouTube unearthed this lovely relic from 2009 starring Neil Pickering, our marketing manager in the UK, just one of the 100+ countries Kronos serves customers. Check out five years younger Neil doing a sweet whiteboard riff on workforce management.

Royale with Cheese

September 15, 2014

royalewithcheeseThat’s what they call a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in France according to the 1994 film “Pulp Fiction.” Wow. That film is 20 years old? Time is a weird thing. Anyway, that pop culture reference popped into my head when I saw today’s Time Well Spent cartoon.

TWS14.rev.600.overtime

It’s a reminder that the political season is upon us, though these days politics never seems to be out of season. I don’t rant politics here for obvious reasons, but a recent Village Voice article pretty much sums up my perspective on our polarized “Royale With Cheese.”

“The world isn’t being destroyed by democrats or republicans, red or blue, liberal or conservative, religious or atheist — the world is being destroyed by one side believing the other side is destroying the world. The world is being hurt and damaged by one group of people believing they’re truly better people than the others who think differently. The world officially ends when we let our beliefs conquer love. We must not let this happen.”

A friend and co-worker here calls it “mutual respect.” When practiced, it goes a long way.

Oh, and speaking of political footballs, The Affordable Care Act (ACA aka “Obamacare”) provisions applicable to larger employers take effect the first of the year. Don’t wait until the deadline to prepare. Join us September 23, 2014 for the webinar, Stay Compliant: Kronos Tools that Help You Stay Compliant and Minimize Risk. Learn how our Full-Time/Part-Time Analysis Report for Workforce Central provides a clear, simple breakdown of your full-time and part-time employee mix, helps you determine who’s eligible for coverage, and how the mix impacts your bottom line. Here’s what one customer said:

“It used to take our risk manager a couple days to analyze the data, and now with the report it takes only a couple of hours. The ACA report is the keystone of our compliance strategy.” — Donna Melton, Payroll Systems Coordinator, Katy Independent School District

Breaking News! #Java still Java…

September 13, 2014

breaking newsI’m not sure this is really “non-breaking” news like the breathless CNN updates to tell us searchers still have not found that Malaysian Airlines jet, but it is “news” and you may have missed it.

Anyway, I’ve written quite a bit on desktop Java here because it’s apparently a real pain to our customers having to use it, and recently a Microsoft Internet Explorer update impacted (or could) Oracle JRE and Workforce Central.

So, the breaking news… Yesterday, our Technical Advisory was updated to read,

“Please note – Microsoft states that sites in the intranet and trusted sites are exempt from the checks.

It specifically states that out-of-date ActiveX control blocking feature works with:

  • Internet Explorer 8 through Internet Explorer 11 on Windows 7 SP1 and up
  • Internet Explorer 8 through Internet Explorer 11 on Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 and up
  • All Security Zones except the Local Intranet Zone and the Trusted Sites Zone”

Since I had no idea what any of that meant, I asked a source and received this response:

“Some WFC customers can adjust trusted site settings and low security settings and get by.”

That’s a little obtuse, so I’d recommend reading our technical advisory and Microsoft’s to understand your options.

The Working Smarter Café – Breaking news as it happens… or a little later.

Counting Your Way to Success

September 12, 2014

Yesterday, an auditioning guest-blogger asked “how do you come up with these ideas every day?” Most days it’s easy, others challenging, and some days I’ve got nothing. Today is one of those days. That’s why I’m so thankful to have another fun guest post from Melissa Spinella, Services Marketing Manager at Kronos.

In another life, I would have been a teacher. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job and have the #bestbossever, but there’s nothing better than seeing the joy in someone’s face when they finally “get” what you’re teaching them.

zumbaA couple years ago, I became a Zumba® instructor and discovered that everyone learns in different ways and on their own timetable. Some people like the challenge of just keeping up with you as you do a new routine, while others need some hand-holding and step breakdown so they don’t feel overwhelmed and just quit. There are people who thrive in a group setting (like me!), yet there are others who don’t want anyone watching them. For me, as a former dancer, counting music comes naturally – I couldn’t learn or teach a routine without actively counting out the steps aloud or in my head. My husband is the complete opposite – he swears he can’t count music to save his life, but he can “just listen to the music and let it move him.” While he may not be actively counting, in essence, his body is doing it for him, whether he wants to admit it or not. Counting music, whether consciously or unconsciously, is the basis from which any dance or routine must start, it’s the starting point to learning all the music has to offer.

When it comes to Kronos workforce management, Kronos KnowledgePass is a customer’s basis for education. A place where they can prepare for an upgrade, brush up on tasks for year-end, or learn a specific skill for when a colleague is on vacation anytime, anywhere. Worried about how employees will react to a new software solution or an upgrade? Our change management and user adoption services help prepare, evaluate, improve, and support project team members, managers, and staff so they understand the changes ahead. It’s all about ensuring our customer’s implementation or upgrade starts off on the right foot!

Moving on as we remember

September 11, 2014

3880404698About this time 13 years ago, I returned to my office from a meeting in another Kronos building. I’d left for the meeting just before 9, and as I departed, my buddy in the cubicle facing me said, “a plane hit one of the World Trade Center towers.” I asked what kind of plane. He assumed a small one. None of us could imagine the horror that was unfolding. As I came into his view in front of my office, Mike said, “they’re gone.” “What?” I replied. Then he told me about the hellish hour in NY, DC, and Pennsylvania.

Today I passed a small ceremony at the new Chelmsford Fire Station. The memory of that day is fading, just like the memorials for Pearl Harbor. For some reason I’ve been thinking about how people reflected back on the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack in 1954, 13 years after 2,403 Americans were killed there. The world was different then, but still the same in many ways… Here are some 1954 snippets from Wikipedia:

  • Marilyn Monroe married baseball player Joe DiMaggio (and that was news).
  • After authorizing $385 million over the $400 million already budgeted for military aid to Vietnam, President of the United States Dwight D. Eisenhower warns against his country’s intervention in Vietnam.
  • Bill Haley & His Comets record “Rock Around the Clock”, thus starting the rock and roll craze.
  • Vice President Richard Nixon announces that the United States may be “putting our own boys in Indochina regardless of Allied support.”
  • Senator Joseph McCarthy begins hearings investigating the United States Army for being “soft” on Communism.
  • Brown v. Board of Education (347 US 483 1954): The U.S. Supreme Court rules unanimously that segregated schools are unconstitutional.
  • U.S. officials announce that a hydrogen bomb test (Castle Bravo) has been conducted on Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean.
  • The Soviet Union test fires a thermonuclear bomb for the first time.
  • Willie Mays made “the catch.”
  • Texas Instruments announces the development of the first commercial transistor radio.
  • Muslim Brotherhood member Mahmoud Abdul Latif tries to kill Gamal Abdel Nasser.
  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average rises hit an all-time high of 382.74, the first time the Dow had surpassed its peak level reached just before the Wall Street Crash of 1929.
  • The world’s first successful kidney transplant occurred in Boston, Massachusetts.

The world was dangerous in 1954, and is today, but for every step back we keep stepping forward. Today we’re strong partners with Japan. We work individually and together to move ahead. To advance. To improve. To understand each other better. At the same time we stay alert to threats, and we don’t forget who we’ve lost.

Promising the Experience You Expect

September 10, 2014

IMG_20140910_094142Yesterday I dropped by to see the videotaping of several Kronos employees speaking to our customers about their roles. Shira was there. She’s a project manager with responsibility for helping upgrade existing on-premise Workforce Central customers to our cloud. And our customers love her. We go back over 10 years, and I was so happy to see her and tell her in person how beautiful her little boy and girl are in Facebook pics.

Deb was there, too. She manages our curriculum development for training our customers. The quality of our training content is in large part due to Deb and her team.

Kristina was the first speaker I saw up against the green screen. She’s our VP of global professional services. It’s a big job, and just last month, the professional services team took 86 customers into production with Workforce Central and Workforce Ready. I’ve known Kristina for a few years since meeting at a Kronos charity event. When I met with her shortly after she began this new gig, I asked what her #1 priority was. “Customer satisfaction.” Everything I’ve heard since in her cool Hungarian accent has aligned with that commitment. You’ll hear that accent when the videos are finished, and you’ll hear Kristina’s promise to “persist to raise the bar to meet and exceed your expectations.”

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