When Bongiorno first arrived at ADP, in 2002, he went out on sales calls. It quickly became clear that customers wanted better-integrated products from ADP. The market opportunity was very large: Getting even a small percentage of ADP's 475,000 Employer Services customers to add an ADP product would offer substantial growth. In addition, while ADP's overall customer retention rate hovers around 90 percent, that number goes up when customers have multiple products.
Bongiorno wasn't the first person to recognize that ADP's customers wanted the company to do a better job of integrating products. In fact, it was a long-standing problem at ADP. But Bongiorno quickly found he had at least one kindred spiritvice president and CTO of Employer Services IT, Darko Hrelic, who had arrived at ADP about a year earlier than Bongiorno, after spending more than 20 years at IBM Research and IBM Software Group. Hrelic, who had also been out on sales calls (a standard practice for IT officials at ADP), had been trying to get the company to start using Web services to integrate its products, but to no avail. There were a number of reasons why. For starters, the decentralized culture within ADP meant that it was comfortable with different groups taking different approaches (there were, in fact, multiple small efforts to develop Web services already underway at different divisions within Employer Services). The company's sales and marketing had also evolved as distinct groups selling individual products. As a result, only a small percentage of customers used more than one ADP product.