Aron Ain’s first job in the late 1970s at Kronos, the workforce management company based in Lowell, Massachusetts, was to walk the streets of Boston, asking companies if he could install a new kind of time clock in their businesses.
Aron Ain, CEO of Kronos, is in his 41st year with the company.
This time clock included a microprocessor that recorded the date and time you punched in, and when you punched out, automatically added up your hours.
“It was a pretty simple idea, but nobody had done it before,” Ain said.
Ain jokes that after he sold a time clock he had to install it and maintain it.
“I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I tried my best,” Ain said. “I was in charge of customer-facing activities, the only guy who did sales. I also cleaned the bathrooms, because everyone did everything.”
Kronos was founded by Aron Ain’s brother, Mark, in 1977, when Aron was just 20 years old. He’s now in his 41styear with Kronos, becoming CEO in 2005.
“I was the 10th employee,” Ain said. “We have 6,300 people today.”
Kronos grew into a $1.433 billion company by innovating. When customers said they wanted a way to schedule their employees more effectively, Kronos came up with software utilizing an algorithm that took into account the skills, cost and seniority to put the right person in the right place at the right time.
“Managers didn’t have to sit at a table any more to do that,” Ain said.
Kronos’ latest innovation is Workforce Dimensions, a cloud-based system that has brought a new level of automation to workforce management.
“We have larger customers with managers around the world, who might get 20,000 time off requests a week,” Ain said. “We automated that whole thing. On a cell phone, an employee can request time off and you can instantly tell them whether they are approved or rejected.”
Kronos InTouch DX, an intelligent time clock introduced in November 2019, works seamlessly with the … [+]
Workforce Dimensions is the result of Ain’s concern about being surpassed by one of the company’s many competitors, which include Oracle and SAP in addition to payroll companies like ADP, as well as a slew of smaller companies that focus on products for one industry like health care or retail.
“They’re good at what they do,” Ain says of those smaller competitors.
Ain worries that one or more of his competitors will do to Kronos what Kronos did to its competitors in the early days of the company.
“They didn’t take us seriously,” Ain says. “We were a small little startup among giants in the industry. We snuck up on them and became a giant.”
To make sure that same thing doesn’t happen to Kronos, in 2014 Ain developed an internal team of designers and engineers and presented them with a challenge.
“The job we gave them was to produce a product that would put Kronos out of business,” Ain said.
The result was Workforce Dimensions, which after being released a year and a half ago, became the fastest growing product in the history of the industry, according to Ain.
“It’s our ticket,” Ain said. “We’ve sold over 600 systems to customers in the past 18 months covering millions of employees. It’s revolutionizing our business the same way as when we started the company.”