Takeaways and Trends from the 2013 APA Congress

Takeaways and Trends from the 2013 APA Congress

Last week Replicon exhibited at the 31st Annual APA Congress in Grapevine, TX and in between breaks from our booth, I had the pleasure of attending some of the sessions and walking the Exhibit Hall floor to check out the latest trends. APA Congress is the world’s largest payroll and accounts payable conference and expo with more than 2,500 attendees and over 100 exhibitors. Over three days, we talked to several payroll managers and directors at our booth, and here are some of the key takeaways from what we heard and saw on the show floor.

Among the more visible trends, Cloud and SaaS continued to be popular topics this year and widely discussed among attendees, especially in terms of better understanding the technology itself and the potential application to payroll. Interest was high, and it’s clear that cloud is here to stay, and the question is no longer about why, and more about when, as payroll and finance managers realize the flexibility, scalability and affordability of cloud-based applications vs. older on-premise software.

While Mobile is certainly a hot topic at tech conferences, it was surprising to see little fanfare around mobile applications during the sessions at the APA Congress. At the Exhibit Hall, however, mobile was front and center with many vendors announcing new tablet-based devices with touch-screens and clocks with larger display screens. Of course, at Replicon, we’re proud to have been at the forefront of the Time Clock software revolution, having introduced our own tablet based clock—the Replicon CloudClock—nearly two years ago.

While general adoption of mobile for payroll and time tracking is still catching on at many companies, it was interesting to note that among early adopters there was an almost insatiable desire for even more advanced features, such as GPS tracking of punch-ins and ‘Geo-fencing’. Companies are understandably wary of letting their employees clock in and out using a mobile device. Features like geo-fencing would alleviate these concerns by preventing employees from clocking in outside an authorized zone.

Not that there weren’t any issues cropping up. Some companies are still finding it hard to adopt the newest and latest technologies, because they’re still getting used to technology that they bought a few years ago—a great deal of it comprising of expensive and complex on-premise suites that already seem outdated. Several companies also expressed their frustration with the technologies they purchased and their inability to change because of “the sunk cost.” We also heard about many cash-strapped local governments finding it a challenge to get new workforce technologies into their organizations because of resistance from employees and employee unions.

To close on a positive note, we noticed that among the most-commonly asked questions at the APA Congress were those pertaining to Time and Attendance tracking and Cloud technology. Companies of all sizes are quickly realizing that time is money, and implementation time, cost of maintenance, and the ability to easily configure a system for their business are all very important for success.

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Praveen Krishnan
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