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What’s New in HR Tech this Year?

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by Deb Card

Did you miss the HR Tech Conference last week in Chicago? If so, here are the highlights from our team on the ground:

Diversity in the workforce translate into measurable benefits. The first-ever “Women in HR Technology” pre-conference session assembled female CHROs, CEOs and founders of high-growth HR tech companies to discuss their approaches to leadership. DDI CEO Tacy Byham shared new research from DDI and the Conference Board that shows companies with higher percentages of women in leadership roles perform better financially. With females making up only 4.2 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs, we still have a long way to go to maximize the value of more than 50 percent of the workforce.

New HR technologies focus on employees, not on HR administration. In keeping with the new thinking that ranks employees and customers as equally valuable, HR technology is increasingly focused on the experience of the employee—making it easier, more available, more engaging and maybe even more fun for them to interact with their employer. Whether it uses social media woven into recruiting and performance management or the gamification of learning, HR technology is drawing upon practices in the commercial sector to better connect talent to employers, current and potential.

Recruiting software reproduces like rabbits. One-third of the exhibitors at the conference had recruiting applications. While some were part of a full Human Capital Management (HCM) tool or talent suite, other offerings were simply a bolt-on tool to create a better mobile experience and improve talent pools or to improve candidate sourcing through proprietary algorithms and predictive analytics. It seems nearly every week we read about another recruiting application being bought by a larger player and three more popping up in its place.

Everyone is finding a partner. As software and service providers look to close gaps in their offerings or strengthen capabilities in growth areas, they are continuously scanning the horizon for possible alliances, partnerships, and even acquisitions. NGA HR announced two new partnerships in the last month, one with SAP SuccessFactors for global payroll that NGA calls Cloudify Payroll and one with Kronos for integrated timekeeping. Similarly, Accenture recently acquired Day Nine to bolster its Workday practice and meet high demand, and many of the mid-market offerings are quickly partnering to fill in gaps in their still-evolving software suites.

Artificial intelligence, robotics and analytics make their impact on HR. Machine-learning algorithms and robotics are being built into many of the recruitment sourcing systems today. Tokyo-based ERP system provider AI Works claims its HCM system gets smarter every time you use it, saving time and reducing errors as it learns what you “intend” to do and corrects your mistakes. At the same time, a continued focus on HR analytics offerings have brought some new players on the scene to give Vizier and the HCM suites a run for their money.

Products targeting mid-market make up the fastest-growing segment. Walking around the HR Tech Expo, there was no denying the focus on the Small to Middle Enterprise (SME) market of 50-1,500 employees. While not as slick or rich in functionality as the large enterprise-focused giants, these solutions provide significant improvement over spreadsheet-based solutions that many in this market are more than happy to trade in. Not surprisingly, these systems tend to focus on core HR data management, payroll and recruiting and onboarding applications—still the bulk of work for SME HR teams.

Everybody’s talking about engagement. With all the talk about building, measuring and keeping engagement, how is it that a recent Gallup poll indicates only 13 percent of employees report being engaged at work? Though finding the key that unlocks employee engagement in your organization may remain a challenge, better measurement and analytics tools are undoubtedly part of the answer.

If you’re looking to make sense of the overwhelming choices available in HR technology, let ISG be your expert guide. Contact me to learn more.

About the author

Deb leads ISG’s Human Resources Technology practice, drawing upon extensive in shared services, outsourcing and HR management to help clients define and implement their HR technology and service delivery strategies. Deb helps enterprises assess the business case for Human Capital Management software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions, understand the capabilities and experience of leading HR SaaS providers and integrators, and formulate and execute effective negotiation strategies for HR SaaS software and implementation. She has authored ISG’s annual survey on HR Technology and Service Delivery Trends since 2014. Deb has 29 years of experience and has been involved in more than 150 HR engagements across HR administration, payroll, benefits, talent acquisition and HR technologies.