An interesting thing happened at the recent HR Technology Conference. During Naomi Bloom’s “Master Panel,” when Mike Capone noted that ADP had the first SaaS application, before anyone else and before anyone called it SaaS, many of my compatriots on twitter decided to tweet this statement. I have no issues with announcing to the world what a panel member said. However, I know for what must be a fact that half of my compatriots on twitter thought to themselves, “Hmmm, really?” In fact, I myself wrote a tweet, “ADP had SaaS first? I think not!” and posted it just to immediately delete it. Why after all, would I want to be the only dissenter? Why would I want to be the only one to rock the boat?
I’ve continued to think about this statement about ADP, and have decided that I can’t really abide by it. I have defined SaaS by two simple parameters: hosted and single code base. All that means is that the customer does not maintain anything outside of their network infrastructure, and that all clients have the same application at the same time.
ADP has had Enterprise (before that HRizon) hosted since probably the mid 1990’s. But they were always on multiple versions. Similarly, you could say that AutoPay (the mainframe payroll engine) was SaaS since it does indeed cover both parameters of vendor hosted and always on the same version for all clients. The problem here is that there are different versions of the input devices, and even different applications (Enterprise, Payforce, and now Vantage). It really was not until ADP Payforce that I think ADP had a true SaaS platform that even they finally called “versionless.” By the time this came out in about 2005, Salesforce.com had been out for 5 years. It’s completely possible that somewhere in ADP’s portfolio there was a SaaS platform, but I just can’t think of what it was. If mainframe service bureau was SaaS, then I think IBM had it first. Did ADP have SaaS first? Perhaps, but that’s not my version of history.
<begin ADP response>
The fundamental concept of delivering a hosted, multi-tenant solution is something ADP has been doing for decades. The delivery of those applications via the Internet / Cloud is something we’ve done since ’97 when we launched a product called ADP Remote Control. This technology eventually became our iProducts series which now has well north of 100k clients.
Another early huge success in the Cloud was the Fall 2000 launch of Pay eXpert, a cloud-based payroll solution. Today, more than 60,000 clients are using Pay eXpert.
Overall, we have more than 300,000 clients and 18 million users leveraging our cloud solutions. Included in that count are 30,000 clients leveraging our cloud-based, integrated HCM and Talent offerings such as ADP Workforce Now, ADP Vantage HCM and ADP GlobalView.
</end ADP response>
Back to the point, now that I’ve had the time to think through this. There was a comment by Ben Brooks in the Social Media Unpanel at HR Technology about “bad behavior.” Something like “if you have a jerk, let them rise to the top so you can fire them.” This really could have been me. With nobody else saying anything about ADP, maybe I was the jerk – the one guy who had to say something and call someone else out in front of (how many thousand people?). Being the jerk and providing negative public feedback (as I’m doing now in fact) is a dangerous thing. You can be wrong, be seen as the A-hole, antagonize someone you work with (either internal or god forbid a client). These are indeed serious risks and impact the way you’ll be seen in the organization. If your organization is really transparent, perhaps some small callouts or questions are very acceptable. But in highly politicized organizations, you’d best be thoughtful before being too vocal.
In another session (I wish I could remember), someone noted that with social in their organization they were receiving significantly more positive feedback for their employees than previously possible. Employees found that giving people “stars” or other types of recognition was not only good for themselves, but also rewarded those they gave the positive feedback to. Overall, employee engagement probably increased, and the sharing of positive feedback is quite circular (you’re likely to try to return the favor when it’s warranted). The negative or constructive feedback rarely makes it to social media that is implemented in the enterprise. These comments are usually reserved for private discussion (which can be dome through some social tools), or for manager discussions.
Either way, the socialization of constructive or negative feedback seems to have been restricted from our social interactions based on the concept of a “polite society.” It’s not that we don’t want to call each other out, it’s that there is sometimes risk associated with it, and that the benefits of handling certain interactions privately benefits all parties.
I have just looked up Wikipedia’s page on SaaS (the social source of all truth in the universe…) and they do indeed list IBM as one of the first. But given that mainframe service bureaus are on the SaaS history page, I suppose that ADP might have had it first in HR. Mea Culpa, I retract my earlier criticism of ADP. I will now giddily await Ceridian’s rebuttal.