If necessity is the mother of invention, then adversity must be the father of innovation. Flying home to Israel in early March from a meeting in Arizona, Gal Rimon, founder and CEO of Centrical, saw adversity approaching in the form of a virus traveling around the globe faster than his jet.
“The world is going to change,” Rimon thought. Within 10 days, working day and night, his team had responded by developing a workplace solution, Centrical Connect for SAP SuccessFactors Learning and SAP Jam. Its Centrical PULSE Core solution was already available on SAP App Center.
What struck Rimon was that the looming pandemic would force companies worldwide to isolate employees. That, he predicted, would cause a seismic disruption as people began to work without support from peers in their familiar office environment. Employees would likely feel anxious and distracted. Productivity could quickly dissipate.
At the same time, the business environment would become yet more volatile, affecting workloads, roles, and job requirements. Employees as well as managers would have to adapt quickly, learning how to function remotely on their mobile devices, stay focused and self-directed, and absorb unfamiliar skills.
Web of Connection for People Suddenly Isolated
Centrical Connect weaves a web around the employee working at home, helping each individual stay engaged and connected – even walking them through daily activities and reminders to take breaks.
Through integration with SAP SuccessFactors solutions, the app gives managers visibility into individual performance to identify who might need a helping hand. Bi-directional communication helps keep everyone in sync with personalized updates and enables participation in pulse surveys to express concerns.
Training modules are available for employees to plug into when they need to learn new skills. Teams can compete in contests and earn badges and rewards. Features for recognition and peer acknowledgement are built-in – an important functionality both for keeping employees motivated and alerting managers to potential for talent development.
Reimagined Business Model Amid Global Crisis
But how does the business benefit? Rimon pointed to one customer that transformed its retail model this past spring as everything radically shifted, implementing curbside pickup almost overnight. Employees adapted with astonishing speed as they grasped how to operate in this new mode while staying safe. The company surged ahead of the competition.
This same level of agility parallels the achievement of the Centrical team in creating the new app, complete with a go-to-market plan, in warp speed this past March. “They approached it like a hack-a-thon, with license to be creative,” Rimon explained, “but with a clear goal of creating a framework for connecting people working from home.”
The environment supports this kind of collaboration, added Steve Hoechster, director of Communications at Centrical. “The company reflects the values of top management: a culture of continuous learning where employees are the center of the business.”
Sustained Employee Engagement Through Tightly-Knit Framework
Further, the team had extensive experience to draw on with Centrical PULSE Core, which focuses on personalized employee training. Their expertise in game mechanics and linking relevance to sustained employee engagement was essential to the rapid rollout of Centrical Connect. Both apps integrate with SAP SuccessFactors solutions to create a framework for real-time feedback, personalized goals, and fun competition. Both use artificial intelligence (AI) to push out relevant materials and communications, fostering a culture of continuous learning.
As for the origins of Centrical, Rimon explained that during a lengthy career in Big Data and business intelligence he recognized a persistent gap between company strategy and employees’ real-life activities. “These companies knew everything about the customer experience and personalization but were not extending that to employees,” he said.
With Centrical, Rimon set out to tackle three components: engagement, relevant training, and real-time performance management. He immersed himself in “learning about how to learn more efficiently, in a virtuous cycle.”
Launching Centrical in 2013, he parlayed his experience in consulting to build a team with an intrinsic curiosity about how to help customers help their employees deliver more value. It was not long until Centrical had built a sizable customer roster including numerous well-known global brands.
Integration and Partnership with SAP to Align All Forces
Longtime product integration with SAP SuccessFactors solutions is a cornerstone of that success, Rimon noted, so working with SAP was a natural corollary. The Centrical apps increase use of the core software, to the benefit of all parties. “The alignment allows us to tell a mutual story and position the solutions properly as we work with SAP account executives,” he added. “And we receive great support from the partnership team, which has helped us in many layers of the business.”
Anne Yi is general manager of SAP App Center.