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What are the leading HR technology trends?

Both companies and employees are expecting more and more from their human resource departments. Here are four trends that are creating pressure -- and opportunity.

In the last few years, the human resources department has undergone tremendous changes. HR leaders today are charged...

with adapting to today's changing workforce, becoming increasingly strategic and using technology to improve human capital management functions. Here's a look at four of the HR technology trends that are currently pervading the HR space.

Learning management systems are getting smarter. Generally speaking, the proper training of employees and the tracking of that training was neglected in the early 2000s. Add to that the obliteration of the traditional brick and mortar classroom in recent years, and something had to give. The HR tech space has reacted by producing new platforms for creating and collating learning content and learning management systems that do a better job of tracking progress. Other drivers of this trend are the new world of distributed teams and, even more importantly, a greater recognition of and attention to the ways in which humans learn. To meet this need, HR leaders are rushing to replace old approaches with more engaging, on-demand techniques for learning and content distribution, and a number of vendors are addressing this issue. For example, AppLearn, a U.K.-based company that facilitates software adoption, is helping with "contextual learning," layering its learning tool on top of software so that a company's employees don't have to take time out from their day job to get formal training.

Ongoing performance reviews are becoming more common. The bashing of the annual performance review has continued into 2016, and one of the strongest HR technology trends continues to gather force. Most companies do still turn to the traditional performance review once or twice a year as a rating on which to base compensation. However, employees need more than a stale yearly review. This need for more frequent feedback is being addressed by vendors such as Cfactor Works. Such vendors' products are enabling the collection of feedback notes, coaching notes, social media contributions and endorsements from peers throughout the year. At Hive Tech, we use Teambay, a cloud product that takes the pulse of team satisfaction by asking one question per week and providing a chance to thank a team member. The bottom line is that HR leaders really need to revisit their current performance management approach and technology.

HR is turning to data and analytics. Data and analytics have not traditionally been the domain of HR, but that's certainly changing now. Indeed, data and analytics are helping the human resource team in a myriad of ways, including employee retention, workforce planning and increased workforce ROI. Even the laggards are catching up. The collaboration of the CFO and the vice president of HR is mission-critical in order to determine what financial metrics matter to the company and how those translate to HR. Data and analytics are the tie that binds in that collaboration, as I recently wrote in an article with Michael Moon. Companies are recognizing that better HR results translate to better business results, and that better analytics can help improve those HR results.

HR is capitalizing on software that helps manage a global workforce. Companies have an increased pressure to turn a global presence into a competitive advantage, and HR technology is becoming recognized as one potential savior. At Hive Tech, we work with software vendors trying to enter new international markets as well as companies rolling out global HR software, such as Fairsail, which allows for the application of different "policies" in each country. Each company's situation is unique, but many companies are looking for common functionality, including software portability; ability to meet specific in-country requirements; and the ability to address currency issues, local labor costs and compliance regulations. At the heart of issue lies the business impact of global HR decisions.

What is shared by all four HR technology trends is a critical truth: The old HR directive of simply administering employee movement is an increasingly smaller portion of the job description. Instead, strategy is becoming paramount.

 I'll be covering some of these HR technology trends at this June's SHRM National Conference in Washington D.C. 

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This was last published in April 2016

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Which of the four HR technology trends do you believe is changing your company the most?
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Great insights, Jeremy. I would add vendors like @Degreed who are revolutionizing workplace learning. Learning is no longer restricted to the four walls of a classroom and Degreed is turning learning upside down (or more accurately, right-side up).
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As per Mikemmoon, the biggest challenge for Learning is the balance between top down certification training which needs launch and track in a typical LMS and social learning (closer to knowledge management) where content can be authored by subject-matter expertise, using various media types including video and shared. How vendors successfully balance these two very different capabilities in their platform and content is indeed a challenge. Those who are doing it best are Oracle Taleo and Workday. Their recent purchase of Zaption is spot on to what is needed in the ability for SME's to wrap content with tests, share and track.
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In general, I think the four trends above are on target. The other trend foresee is a rethink of the all-in-one HCM suite. Reducing the number of vendors relationships, cost of ownership and integration points were mostly an issue with on-premise software. Now that most everyone has moved to the cloud with SaaS, there is a bit less of a need for an all-in-one solution.

It is critical that System of Record solutions be one integrated solution (HR, Payroll, Time and Benefits) especially from a payroll preview, cost management and ACA reporting perspective. However, the need to have System of Engagement solutions - aka Talent Managemen; recruiting, onboarding, performance, succession planing, comp mgt and learning - from the same vendor is less needed. The only real integration point is some basic employee information. So it is possible companies will begin to shift the pendulum back a bit towards best-of-breed at least when it comes to a system of record versus system of engagement solutions. Each are very complex with very different capabilities. Maybe it's part of the reason there are still dedicated Talent vendors like CornerstoneOnDemand, Saba, Halogen, Silkroad, iCIMS, etc.

You are starting to see some of this trend in partner ecosystems like the ADP Marketplace where niche vendors can be easily plug-and-played into a company's core HR solution. This represents one of the first moves toward "we don't need to build everything ourselves" anymore and understanding that seamless integration with web services is significantly easier than integrating a bunch of on-premise solutions.
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In general, I think the four trends above are on target. The other trend foresee is a rethink of the all-in-one HCM suite. Reducing the number of vendors relationships, cost of ownership and integration points were mostly an issue with on-premise software. Now that most everyone has moved to the cloud with SaaS, there is a bit less of a need for an all-in-one solution.

It is critical that System of Record solutions be one integrated solution (HR, Payroll, Time and Benefits) especially from a payroll preview, cost management and ACA reporting perspective. However, the need to have System of Engagement solutions - aka Talent Managemen; recruiting, onboarding, performance, succession planing, comp mgt and learning - from the same vendor is less needed. The only real integration point is some basic employee information. So it is possible companies will begin to shift the pendulum back a bit towards best-of-breed at least when it comes to a system of record versus system of engagement solutions. Each are very complex with very different capabilities. Maybe it's part of the reason there are still dedicated Talent vendors like CornerstoneOnDemand, Saba, Halogen, Silkroad, iCIMS, etc.

You are starting to see some of this trend in partner ecosystems like the ADP Marketplace where niche vendors can be easily plug-and-played into a company's core HR solution. This represents one of the first moves toward "we don't need to build everything ourselves" anymore and understanding that seamless integration with web services is significantly easier than integrating a bunch of on-premise solutions.

Another big trend includes the Gig Economy’s impact on contingent workforce management solutions and benefit offerings as seen with companies like SAP/Fieldglass, Workmarket and IQNavigator.
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