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At Ceridian, role of CIO requires constant learning, adjusting

You might say Warren Perlman, CIO at Ceridian, a global HCM software company, has been preparing for the role of CIO all his life -- ever since he got his first computer at age 6.

Warren Perlman's immersion into the world of technology began when he was a child.

Warren PerlmanWarren Perlman

"Technology has always been a keen interest for me," said Perlman, CIO of Ceridian, a global human capital management (HCM) software company. "My parents got me my first computer at age 6 -- a Sinclair ZX Spectrum, which had a whopping 16 KB of memory. From there, the passion continued with programming, networking, security design and, ultimately, in the hosting and cloud space, providing an opportunity to gain further appreciation for the future."

Perlman came to Ceridian in 2012 with the company's purchase of Dayforce, which he cofounded with David Ossip, now Ceridian's CEO and president. Ceridian's Dayforce HCM is a cloud-based single application for payroll, benefits, HR, workforce management, talent management, document management and analytics.

In the role of CIO, Perlman's responsibilities run the full gamut of IT: cloud and network operations, security, storage, desktop, virtual desktop infrastructure and DevOps. "Sprinkle innovation on top of all that, and you have the underpinnings of my role," Perlman said.

"Add the flavor of a startup to an established company with a wide swath of technologies," he added, "and it gets more interesting. Agility requires dedication to your employees and customers and takes time to adjust from the older Waterfall model."

Preparing for the role of CIO, Perlman said, "depends on how you view the challenge." As an entrepreneur, he has always been attracted to building companies from scratch. "Each company I have been involved in presented its own unique issues, depending on the type of technology."

The uniqueness of each company allowed Perlman to "use experience but also learn and prepare for future growth and opportunity. In a few of my roles, I played more a strategic, identify-and-fix role, which allowed me to dig in and find creative solutions to fix existing business issues."

What really prepares you for the role of CIO, Perlman said, "is taking time to get familiar with the technology landscape and then staying on top of it -- constantly learning and adjusting."

I love problem-solving, deep thinking and understanding the needs of the business.
Warren PerlmanCIO, Ceridian

The day-to-day challenge, he said, is "keeping customers and employees happy and engaged, blended with the efficiency of our operation and the ability to deal with the next crisis."

Perlman thrives on innovation and creativity. Every problem, he said, "is an opportunity to improve, change, adjust and better the organization. I love problem-solving, deep thinking and understanding the needs of the business."

As Ceridian's CIO, Perlman has overseen a cultural transformation that he said led to a highly respected and successful company. "At Ceridian, we believe that engaged employees are the key to a great customer experience and that, in turn, customer relationships and engaged employees lead to growth, productivity and profitability."

By establishing a strong culture and focusing on the employee experience, he said, "Ceridian was able to attract top industry talent and rebuild the culture around engagement, performance and innovation."

Much credit, Perlman said, goes to Ceridian's CEO. "David [Ossip] saw that the rise of cloud technology, the abundance of employee information and the emergence of predictive analytics had reshaped the workplace. Employees expected more flexibility, access to information and sharing of information, and employers wanted to do more with their data and use predictive technologies to drive insightful decisions."

In addition, Perlman said, the regulatory environment had become much more complex. "Addressing these challenges required access to employee data from time and attendance, payroll, benefits and human resources."

The transformation, Perlman said, "created an opportunity for disruption in the HCM market. We built Dayforce as a modern cloud platform for the entire employee experience to meet this need in the market. Today, more than 3,000 live customers represent more than 2.5 million active global users on the platform."

What will drive the evolution of Dayforce HCM going forward, Perlman said, is the belief that "making work life better for people everywhere" should be the goal of any HCM technology. To meet this goal, the development of Dayforce follows specific design principles that focus on providing:

  • one place to manage employees;
  • the right data at the right time;
  • predictive technologies;
  • freedom from constrained workflows;
  • seamless access across all devices; and
  • one employee record and rules engine.

But in the role of CIO, his overriding challenge is maintaining balance "between innovation, sustaining existing products, employee satisfaction and expense. There will always be more work. Prioritizing and managing the dynamic nature of the business makes this the toughest overall challenge."

This was last published in March 2018

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