Changing faces of HR technology

The demand for HR-focused technology has increased over the past year, with a rising number of companies already setting a spending amount for these services in 2016. HRM explores what they can look forward to this year.

It is a common move for companies to replace their core HR management systems with technological solutions these days.

The introduction of such technology – including mobile options – have proven to cater to the needs of workforces in becoming more smarter and efficient.

According to The Starr Conspiracy Intelligence Unit’s Global Human Capital Trends 2015 Report, 57% of HR executives intended on purchasing some type of HR technology solution in 2015.

Their top objectives were: performance management, employee engagement management, learning, leadership development, and HR analytics.

The research also showed that the top concerns varied according to company size. For large organisations, learning, compensation, workforce planning and HR analytics were listed as the key concerns.

On the other hand, middle-sized companies were more focused on wellness, leadership development and HR analytics, while for small organisations, employee engagement, onboarding and workforce planning were top of the list.

The usage of HR technology systems has also seen changes over the past year.

Rene Wong, Sales and Marketing Manager at Times Software, says while the systems have been primarily designed for compliance, automation and transactions, companies are now seeking other benefits as well.

“HR tech systems should not solely be about transactions,” she says. “They should be about giving people the tools and technology they need to be more successful at work, while driving employee productivity and engagement.”

“Increasingly, firms are addressing their HR priorities, such as creating a strong company brand, attracting the brightest talent and competitively paying employees, by investing in technology.”

Hottest trends

HR technology systems are a growing part of the IT market, and a rising number of companies are now investing in them.

The same Starr Conspiracy Intelligence Unit report stated that the total expenditure on these technologies grew by four per cent in 2014, as compared to 2013.

Still, six in 10 firms are planning to increase their HR spending over the next 12 to 18 months.

Similarly, Lim Say Ping, Director of iqDynamics, has observed that HR departments have been inquiring about enterprise-class talent management solutions that can help companies manage human capital more strategically.

There is also a growing awareness of the importance of big data and data analytics, he says.

“Companies are looking into data analysis solutions, or even better HR solutions that already have built-in data analysis capabilities,” Lim shares.

Apart from designing HR software to make jobs easier, Wong says many HR tech providers are shifting their application designs to accommodate end users. This enables them to learn and collaborate, share feedback and set their own goals.

Software delivery has also changed dramatically with the advent of cloud-based systems.

“Today, HR leaders can find and try solutions faster and cheaper than ever before,” Wong shares.

“Using cloud services eliminates the need for HR departments to procure and maintain their own physical servers, as well as to upgrade and back up applications.”

For Yo-Hahn Low, Global Head of HR Operations and Technology at Noble Agri, companies are increasingly embracing cloud-based solutions and focusing on data analytics this year.

“Companies are ditching the IT-led customised approaches, and are instead having HR lead the design and supporting it themselves through configuration, rather than customisation,” he explains.

“They also want better data analytics from these solutions and are shaping up to create stronger HR analytics capabilities within their teams.”

Stumbling blocks

According to the Aon Global Risk Management Survey 2015, cyber risk is ranked as among the top 10 key risk factors in workforces.

In addition, the potential for damage to brand and reputation was cited as the top overall concern facing global organisations. The report notes that this underscores the importance of cyber risks, which have been regularly linked to brand and reputation issues in the wake of data breaches.

Low says firms in most sectors face challenges in poor data quality and capturing up-to-date and consistent data.

“Without this foundation, it is difficult to improve data analytics and to get reliable metrics,” he says.

The second issue raised was getting HR more involved and excited in using technology in the manner it was designed.

To counter this, Low suggests that working backwards.

“One way of overcoming this is to start with your reporting and regulatory requirements first, and then work backwards,” he says.

“This will then influence the design of the company’s HR technology solution and allow you to present better data for management.”

To get HR to use the technology successfully, Low says the key leads and influencers need to be involved in the design and requirements phase, and ideally dedicated full-time to the overall project.

This would then filter down to the various HR teams and to the HR champions already on board.

Moving forward

In a recent Information Services Group report, it was revealed that more than half of the executives polled planned to implement new HR technologies within the next two years.

According to this, participants cited a variety of areas they would like to see improvements made over the course of the two years.

They included: an improvement in talent acquisition (19%), improved business processes (13 %), cost reduction targets (10%), and driving human capital management technology improvements (9%).

For 2016, Wong shares that Times Software is looking to continue to invest and develop its research and development team.

“Applications and cloud solutions continue to impact everyone’s work and social activities,” she says.

“However we put a special emphasis on dashboard alerts that link to quick action steps and reporting

business intelligence on the fly.” “We are also looking at social connectivity for team building and synergy forging among colleagues.”

Low hopes there will be more consolidated HR technology solutions, where areas such as talent, recruitment and learning and development are linked and where data can be shared without having to undertake separate integrations.

“Also, HR tech will get more mainstream and consumer-based where managers, employees and HR find it easier to use, with little or no training involved; similar to how a person would do online shopping for example,” he explains.

Lim also stresses that in the coming year, iqDynamics hopes to help companies facing rapid growth and changes, and who are therefore encountering challenges in resource planning and allocation.

“This is when we are able to step in to assist these companies by become a supporting pillar of their organisation,” he concludes.

Five disruptive trends in 2016

1 Consumerised HR technology

Many applications are now being designed with the end user in mind, enabling employees to learn and to collaborate, share feedback, and to manage other people more effectively.

2 Mobile apps as HR platforms

Breakthrough areas of mobile applications will likely include engagement and feedback systems.

3 Enterprise resource planning

Vendors are now becoming providers of comprehensive talent management technologies to support areas like recruiting and learning.

4 Built-for-the-cloud providers

A new and disruptive “third wave” of talent solution providers is emerging with products that are inexpensive and built for mobile and the cloud; profound for areas such as payroll and learning technology.

5 Feedback and culture management

Several providers are bringing together performance management, feedback, employee check-ins, and development planning.

Source: Bersin by Deloitte report entitled, “HR Technology 2016: 10 Big Distruptions on the Horizon”


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