Ultimate Software 2017

On April 6, 2017, in HRExaminer, John Sumser, by John Sumser

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Ultimate software is actively growing the definition of software while they explore the evolving world of digital enterprise HR services. The scope of that growth is overwhelming in meaning and complexity. At the very same time they are bringing their recruiting and talent management tools up to the current state of the art; they are reinventing the industry in other arenas.

Ultimate Software (ULTI) is in a phase of complex growth and reinvention.
 
Ultimate has all the markers of an established HR Tech Company. It’s 27 years old, sees nearly $800 Million in annual revenue, and has a market cap of $6 Billion. It is routinely rated one of the best places to work by the various folks who make those pronouncements.
 
But Ultimate has developed some interesting new functionality that is leading the way in some important areas. If you have the time, take a look at their improvements over the past year. They’ve added about 20 new tools that focus on global effectiveness, employee experience, recruiting, talent management, analytics, Artificial Intelligence and ecosystem expansion.
 
They are actively growing the definition of ‘software’ while they explore the evolving world of digital enterprise HR services. The scope of that growth is overwhelming in meaning and complexity. At the very same time they are bringing their recruiting and talent management tools up to the current state of the art; they are reinventing the industry in other arenas.
 
Platform and artificial intelligence are where the industry race is. Ultimate is leading in both in some very significant ways. Meanwhile, they are bringing the functionality of their talent acquisition tools slowly up to present day standards. Leading and following simultaneously.
 
That’s what it takes to become a fully capable contemporary HR Technology platform in the late twenty-teens. The talent acquisition and talent management standards are set, you have to meet them; Ultimate is getting there. Simultaneously, the nature of HR Enterprise tools is changing rapidly and they are setting the pace.
 
Sound confusing?
 
The world of enterprise tools is changing and Ultimate Software is a very visible example of what’s coming. Where desktop and file metaphors drove the first several generations of HR Technology, today’s future involves the use of automated flows of real time data that is designed for both insight and decision making. It’s uncharted territory with few examples to point the way.
 
In order to deliver, companies like Ultimate must build ecosystems of service and data providers. Where corporate development used to be a function that expanded a company’s capabilities, Ecosystem development is a complex array of technical and business processes wrapped around a make/buy/align/partner decision making framework. Ultimate’s equivalent of a marketplace arm combines deep technical resources, control of the company’s APIs, savvy deal making, and and an open communications approach.
 
This technical function is a part of a larger partnership relations endeavor that involves keeping the 100 or so players to stay on top of the evolution of the company. Ultimate’s tent is roomy, inclusive, and growing rapidly. Four or five years ago, there was nothing to be seen in this part of their operation.
 
Partnership ecosystems (or Platform as a Service) are in their earliest stages. They will become the predominant mode of operation for business tools. Understanding that the players have to easily talk to each other is the starting point. The basic idea is that the heart of great automation is data. In order to harness data throughout the system, the ‘platform’ must manage and control data flows. Ultimate, which has been known as a closed network, is really shaking things up by becoming open in this regard.


 
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