Companies and businesses have always tried to measure productivity. In the early days one simple way was to have a punch-in time clock machine for employees. In 1977, an MIT alumni, Mark Ain put together one such clock and thus was born Kronos Inc, which even today is one of the largest players selling workforce management solutions. Today Kronos sells software and services for scheduling, time & attendance, HR & Payroll management, hiring and labour management. Mark's brother Aron, who now runs the $1.2-billion company, was in India recently when BT's Venkatesha Babu spoke to him. Kronos India has not only a large employee base serving its global customers but also counts the likes of Mahindra & Mahindra, Ultratech Cement, Bharat Forge, Croma and GMR Group amongst its marquee customers. Aron spoke of Kronos evolution and the India opportunity. Edited Excerpts:
BT: Your brother Mark Ain started the company…
Aron: Yeah, he was one of the founders. He along with one partner stated the company. He retired in 2005. It took us 30 years or so to touch roughly $500 million of revenue. (But now)… we've a turnover of $1.2 billion. The fact that we've grown to be so big and successful explains that it's not just about being a suite provider like Oracle or SAP or Infor. People are buying what we offer every day and the business is coming in all different dimensions. It's coming from industries like manufacturing, retail, hospitality, public sector services, distribution, healthcare. Any company who wants to track employees, be it great big companies, or small and medium businesses, all are now our customers.
When we first started Kronos the demand was cost driven. People wanted our products because they were trying to save money. (But) it has moved way past that point today. Certainly people still focus on cost a little bit. But now it's about driving real business outcomes. People tell us that by using the workforce management system they can deliver better service, build better products, enhance customers' and employees' experiences.
BT: Companies like Oracle or SAP is several times your size. How do you compete with them? Aron: It's pretty simple, their products are not as good as ours. When companies compare our products with them they see the difference. Companies like Oracle and SAP are selling products ranging from CRM (Customer relationship management) to supply chain and financials to HCM (Human capital management). But, we are just focused on the little narrow slice of workforce management products. So that means we have over a 1,000 full time development people working just on making the world's best workforce management products. They have only dozens of people working on what we have over a 1,000 working on it. You might say that it can't be true; they are Oracle and SAP. But, the fact is that Kronos has grown to be a $1.2 billion company selling this narrow slice. We have grown because our products are better. BT: For a little over a dozen years you were listed and went back to being private. Have there been advantages because of that? Private equity players have a large stake in the company today, do you get business from their portfolio companies?