Five HR Tech Trends You Need to Consider

Josh Bersin gives a sneak preview of what he will be presenting at HR Tech Fest Connect 2021, where he is giving the opening keynote address on May 27.
By: | May 6, 2021

By Josh Bersin, Global Industry Analyst and Dean of the Josh Bersin Academy.

HR technology is an essential part of business today. More than 12.1 million employers in the US alone spend over US$5 trillion on payroll, benefits, training, and other employee programmes.

More than a third of the workforce changes jobs every year, creating a $250 billion-plus market for recruitment, advertisement, assessment, and interviewing.

The L&D marketplace is over $240 billion per year and spans the range from onboarding to leadership development to technical and continuous skills programmes. And the market for wellbeing, benefits, insurance, workplace tools, and workplace productivity systems is similarly large.

Needless to say, the pandemic has radically changed the marketplace and disrupted purchasing and implementation plans.  In this article, I preview five of the trends I will cover in my upcoming keynote presentation at HR Tech Fest Connect 2021.

The HR tech market has been turned inside out, and now it is entirely focused on employees, not HR.

Most company leaders are recognising the need to reinvent employee experience, and to do so, they need tools that simplify, automate, and digitize every aspect involved. We are well beyond building portals or mobile apps. 

Companies need AI-enabled tools that fit together like puzzle pieces and platforms that let them easily build employee journeys, back-to-workplace programmes, onboarding and transition processes, and wellbeing solutions.

To accommodate this need, the market is moving from systems of record to systems of design. Solution providers are creating platforms that are easy to use and equally easy to customise. Vendors like Microsoft (Viva), ServiceNow (the Quebec release), and new offerings from Workday, Oracle, SuccessFactors and others are opening the door to creator tools for HR.

Microsoft’s entry into the market could change everything.

It is hard to think of an HR tech vendor that will not be impacted by Microsoft Viva.  Learning platforms are integrating with Viva Learning and Microsoft Teams. Content companies are building Viva-enabled search and discovery features. Communication and wellbeing tools are developing plugins. The wave is just beginning, and every HR tech product manager is trying to figure out how to adapt.

New user interfaces and AI-enabled agents are transformational.

The user experience for HR platforms is dramatically changing. Every new system needs a conversational interface, and most are now working through messaging. Upwards of 40% of the workforce is now “deskless,” and these employees in particular need an HR system that works “behind the scenes.”  In fact, in my keynote, I will talk more about the “disappearing HR system,” which employees can use and interact with without actually logging in.

Skills engines and talent marketplaces are becoming mainstream.  

There are dozens of new solutions in this area.  The LXP market is now the most important design center for corporate training, and every LXP has its own built-in skills engine. The need for integrated skills technology is enabling newer vendors like Gloat, Hitch, Eightfold, Fuel50, Workday, and others to disrupt the market.  Companies such as SAP, Pepsi, Allianz, Standard Chartered, NetApp, Verizon, Citibank, and P&G are piloting skills taxonomies and talent marketplace platforms. 

ServiceNow, employee portals, and service-delivery platforms are white-hot.

As we enter a world of hybrid work, companies need systems to schedule desks, monitor safe workplaces, and manage travel, location, and system access. Employees want self-service tools and workflow management platforms to build new employee journeys.

The ERP vendors have not focused in this area until recently, opening the door to ServiceNow, Microsoft Viva, Oracle, and tools like Embark from WillisTowersWatson to move in. ServiceNow is enabling teams to build employee apps without learning how to code. Its strong ties to IT are an advantage in a world where HR tech, work tech, and messaging and communication tech are integrated.

I will have much more to discuss at HR Tech Fest Connect 2021.  If you would like to learn more in advance, download the report, HR Technology 2021: The Definitive Guide, here

Josh Bersin is a Global Industry Analyst and Dean of the Josh Bersin Academy. He will be making the opening keynote address at HR Tech Fest Connect 2021 on May 27 at 10.05am (SGT).