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The Big Red Pen

April 27, 2015

Dave FagerstromBig Dave died on Friday. I saw him last at a “celebration of life” for another co-worker’s wife back in September. His waving hand caught my attention from a sea of unfamiliar faces. Sadly, Dave’s face was one of them. He’d lost so much weight. We chatted at a table, and when we left together, Dave kept talking. We stood in the parking lot for nearly an hour. I could tell he just wanted to talk; to air it out a bit.

redpenDave was extremely intelligent, and he loved to teach. Early in my Kronos career, he’d review my writing and return drafts looking like Freddy Krueger had corrected them. It wasn’t his job, but he volunteered his time and I benefited. Dave was also a stat geek, and because of that, I know what a fourth-order polynomial is… Truth is, I still have no idea what a fourth-order polynomial is, but Dave did.

antennaHe was proud of his Navy service as an electronic technician, and told the story of hanging out on a antenna support to repair a transponder in driving rain and 30 foot seas. A story like that would usually produce an eye roll of disbelief, but not when told by Mr. Fagerstrom. Dave had unquestionable integrity.

Dave was in the inaugural class of the baby-boomers in 1946. Some of his generation (and many others) were hard-hit by the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent recession, and Dave was one of them. In 2007, he began teaching at local colleges as an adjunct professor, a woefully undervalued role, but I never heard him complain about it. He got tremendous joy from teaching. Thanks Dave. You and your big red pen will be missed.

Fifteen years, but where do they go?

April 24, 2015

15 yearsApril 24, 2000 was a Monday. I was in a new office, and heard soft sobbing from another. Time can pass very slowly. Looking back, the time has passed simultaneously in an instant and at a slow drip. Back then Bill Clinton was in the White House, the Boston Bruins were not in the playoffs, and the technology laden NASDAQ index was free-falling from 5,000. The passing of time greatly depends on your perspective and where you are in life. In an interview this week, New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez looked back on his career and told a reporter, “It’s been one long boo for 15 years.” Wow. That time must have passed slowly.

Fifteen years later, another Clinton is hunting for a white house in Washington, DC, the NASDAQ has clawed its way back over 5,000, and the Bruins… Well, time is passing very slowly right now for them and their fans.

I worked at Japanese tech company NEC for 16 years before they moved to Sacramento and I didn’t. During that tech boom, I saw college buddies in Silicon Valley job-hop up (but sometimes off) the corporate ladder. I never once wondered Is It Bad to Stay at One Company for Very Long? Job satisfaction and employee engagement live in a swirling ocean of work variables, but one set of reasons nails it for me:

  • Employees who are supervised by highly engaged managers are 59% more likely to be engaged (Gallup)
  • Highly engaged employees are:
    • more than twice as likely to help someone at work even if they don’t ask for help
    • more than three times as likely to do something good for the company that is not expected of them
    • more than five times as likely to recommend that a friend or relative apply for a job at their company (Temkin Group)

I’ve had the good fortune to work for 3 highly engaged managers at Kronos. Pete Broderick hired me and survived. Barb Vlacich inherited me… When I worked for her, “mutual respect” between all employees was the mantra. (Work)Joyce… I inherited her, and she still tolerates me well…

It’s these three people, and many others that make me more than five times as likely to recommend that a friend or relative apply for a job at Kronos.

April 24, 2015 is a Friday, and in 15 years I’ve only heard a few boos.

Customer Service is the (not so) New Marketing

April 23, 2015

lickingtacoshellsWhat if your customers or potential customers could see or hear every interaction you had with each and every customer? Thanks to social media, today they can. Remember this guy? This picture went viral, and his employer probably sold a few less tacos in the aftermath. News travels fast, especially if it’s bad.

This post germinated from an article titled Why Customer Service is the New Marketing. As I dug into this a bit more, I found many references to the concept, so I tried to determine its origin. The roots of “customer service is the new marketing” could be this (and its inspiration) or this, but definitely not this. Anyway, if you click on just one link here on the subject, let it be this post penned by Wendy Lea, former CEO of Get Satisfaction. She nails it.

Disney on Customer ExperienceAnyway, my point is that customer service is the (not so) new marketing. Ol’ Walt knew what the magic was then, and is now: the customer experience. The difference today is that social media continues to grow in power to amplify your customer word of mouth stories of their experience. Customers now have the power to tell the world what your products and services are like, and their stories influence whether others will consider you. That’s why more than ever, customer service is the new marketing.

Speaking of customer service, here’s an outstanding Slideshare from to inspire you.

customer service quotes

Catch a Cloud on Earth Day

April 22, 2015

PrintOver the past couple years as I’ve brought light to a darkened man-cave, and reimagined a kitchen and two bathrooms, electron-sipping LED lighting has been part of the shiny brightness. Yesterday Wired ran a story on how the cost of Light Emitting Diodes has dimmed to an affordable 2 bulbs/$5. Still, my electricity bill over the winter soared to nearly $300/mo. Residential Solar is becoming more attractive…

On this Earth Day, it’s a good time to take inventory of how we’re using the planets resources, and in the case of technology, electricity, and how it’s generated deserves examination. Greenpeace has been very active in exposing big cloud providers who use dirty carbon fuels to run their datacenters. The good news is that the 50 year old Moore’s law projects both computing processing power AND the energy efficiency of transistors to double every two years, and that many of Planet Earth’s largest cloud providers are moving to 100% renewable energy sources to power their datacenters.

In my opinion, cloud computing, and the workforce management cloud solutions from Kronos are environmentally friendly. Here are a few reasons why, care of Rackspace, a provider of hosting and cloud computing.

Happy Earth Day.

Rackspace® — [INFOGRAPHIC] How Cloud Computing is Saving the Earth

KnowledgePass is People!!!

April 21, 2015

Lyn ComboYou know the old saying, “Soylent Green is People!?” No? Then check this out. KnowledgePass is people, too, and none more than Lyn Bennett. As I was troll, uh, researching the internet, I wasn’t sure whether to use Lyn’s more professional LinkedIn pic or the movie stah shot from YouTube, so you get both. Anyway, yesterday Ms. Bennett’s manager announced Lyn’s been promoted! Yeah, cool. Her peers were pretty pumped. Here’s a comment from one:

“Lyn, you are a superstar!! I don’t know what we’d do without your dedication and support. :-) Can’t think of a more deserving person for these accolades. Kudos!!” (Doing happy dance now)

Speaking of “happy dances,” Lyn was pretty excited to hear the news. Ms. Bennett has been with Kronos since 2006, and became the Program Manager for KnowledgePass in 2009. Here is just some of the work Lyn has managed to help grow KnowledgePass to over 2,500 Workforce Central customers!

  • Worked to define KnowledgePass LMS for customers with a Learning Management System
  • Wrote and distributed 30 editions of the KnowledgePass Buzz to keep customers up to date on KPass news
  • Coordinated a customer advisory board to gather feedback from customers on KnowledgePass
  • Delivered just about every type of KronosWorks session on KnowledgePass (Hers was a top 5 attended in 2014!)
  • Delivered webinars on KnowledgePass, including one focused on how to get users trained during a product upgrade

So now you know one of the real people, and some of the work behind a hugely popular Kronos service. Lyn’s a lot of fun, and I hope her sense of humor sees some humor in this post. I simply wanted to share a warm human story. Of course Lyn’s work accomplishments are just a small part of her life, but since this is a (work)blog, I don’t want to get in to details about Lyn’s long list of personal achievements, but suffice to say there is a statue dedicated to her.

Thank you Lyn, and congratulations on your well earned promotion!

The Cloudy Marathon

April 20, 2015

Image from

Today, clouds will protect the 30,000 entrants in the 2015 Boston Marathon, hopefully easing every stride, step, spin, drag or crawl they need to cover the 26 miles and 385 yards (42.195 Kilometers) from Hopkinton to Boylston Street in Boston. For Kronos, the marathon is an apt metaphor for our customers moving to the cloud. At times it may seem like a sprint, but with thousands of customers, and tens of thousands of prospective customers globally, a steady pace serves us all well.

The marathon is underway, and a huge story today, but the cloud is also in the news. The cheap, convenient cloud is a solid primer on cloud computing, and provides a stunning statistic on the impact of the cloud, while also putting it in context:

“Gartner, a market-research firm, expects the global market for cloud-computing services to reach $176 billion this year. That is still only 4% of all IT spending…”

Like a lumbering 16 year old, the cloud is still just a teenager with a lot to learn. Forbes Contributor Joe McKendrick writes in 10 Things We’ve Learned About Cloud Computing that contrary to the “sky is falling” employment fears about cloud, instead of supplanting IT in organizations, the cloud has elevated IT. It seems the older experienced talent in our IT organizations is teaching the young cloud how to fit in.

CIO magazine goes a little further, pointing out the adolescents failures and how to avoid them in Why Cloud Computing Implementations Typically Fail. Likening the cloud experience to being a new parent, CIO states:

“It is next to impossible for people to create a thorough, comprehensive cloud implementation plan when they haven’t done it before.”

Fortunately for Kronos customers old and new, we have created and successfully, uh, run comprehensive cloud implementation plans for both Workforce Central in the Cloud for complex enterprises, and Workforce Ready for small to mid-sized organizations.

One last thing. As I jogged around the web researching marathon stats, I discovered it takes around 30,000 steps to run a marathon. Let me assure you it’s much, much easier to get to the Kronos cloud. Mostly because we do most of the running for you!

Cutting back on the Java

April 17, 2015

even-bad-coffee-is-better-than-noIt seems there are many reasons to say no to more Joe, but then there are the “13 Proven Health Benefits of Coffee.” Yeah, confusing, so don’t believe everything you read on the internet. I love the smell of coffee in the morning. It smells like… Consciousness. Anyway, I’ve cut way back. A cup first thing, then one on the commute. That’s it. None at work, and rarely one late in the day. Anyway, that’s enough of my Joe to Java segue.

chrome-gave-up-java1Back in September I blogged about Google Chrome dropping support of desktop Java, and now it seems the last drop has dropped. Yesterday our Global Support team released a Technical Advisory detailing the impact on Workforce Central users:

“… since WFC versions prior to v7 relied heavily on Java, customers using those versions will not be able to use Chrome as a browser.”

Here’s the good part:

“Fortunately, WFC v7 can be configured Java-free for most employee functionality, so properly configured WFC v7 servers can be accessed by most employees with a Chrome browser.”

And in the TV biz what we call a teaser:

“Kronos is continuing to invest in eliminating WFC dependence on client-side Java, so the next major WFC release will be even more Java-free.”


For more information, check out TA101274 on There’s a ton of information on our customer portal, and they serve great coffee.


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