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Analytics, global HR hot topics at Bersin conference

In this podcast, associate site and news editor Emma Snider recaps some of the key takeaways from Bersin by Deloitte's Impact 2013.

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Impact 2013, a conference hosted in April by consulting and research firm Bersin by Deloitte in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., brought human resources executives from around the world together with some of the industry's leading analysts to hash out how HR departments should approach talent management in the age of social, mobile, cloud and big data. Attendees had the chance to swap best practices and listen to success stories during user-driven presentations on employee engagement, learning and career management. They also got previews of new Bersin by Deloitte research on the HR technology market, leadership development in China and high-impact HR organizations.

Emma Snider, SearchFinancialApplications associate site and news editor, gathered reactions from attendees while covering the event. In this podcast, Snider talks about her main takeaways and key points from the conference with Scot Petersen, editorial director of TechTarget's Business Applications and Architecture Media Group. Topics covered include the impact of "glocalization" on HR and the current state of workforce analytics.

Follow Emma Snider on Twitter @emmajs24 and Scot Petersen @scotpe.

Keep up to date will all the latest HR and corporate finance technology news by following @SearchFinApps.

Scot:  Hi. This is Scot Petersen, Editorial Director of the Business Applications and Architecture group at TechTarget. And I'm here today with Emma Snider, Associate Site and News Editor for Search Financial Applications. Hi, Emma. Welcome.

Emma: Hi, Scot. Thank you.

Scot: You were recently at the Impact 2013 conference, presented by Bersin by Deloitte, down at Fort Lauderdale. First tell me, what is Bersin by Deloitte?

Emma: Bersin by Deloitte is an HR consultancy. They were previously called Bersin and Associates, headed off by Josh Bersin, who's the founder and principal. And then earlier this year, they were acquired by Deloitte. So the title is now Bersin by Deloitte.

Scot: So Deloitte, as we know, is a management consulting and accounting firm, getting into the HR management. Human resources management?

Emma: Yes. Exactly.

Scot: Human capital management.

Emma: Human capital management. That's right.

Scot: Yes. That's a big field, [a] growing field, as we know. And a lot of computer technology being used to aid the HR people today.

Emma: Yes.

Scot: Why don't you tell me what's going on with HR analytics?

Emma: A lot of companies are very early on in their HR analytics campaigns. So it is fairly difficult to get actual [HR leaders] to speak on this topic. One of Bersin's analysts, Stacia Sherman-Garr, referred to the fact that they had an entire track dedicated to HR analytics at the conference, and she said that it was fairly difficult to find people to lead these presentations.

Scot: Well, what are [companies] trying to find out with HR analytics?

Emma: I mean, there's a lot of valuable insight that you can get from your workforce. Metrics such as time to fill, time to hire, cost per hire --those can really have a significant impact on all parts of the company. And when you look at a company's overall spend, oftentimes the people are a very big part of that, if not the number one cost. So making sure you're getting the right people in their roles, making sure you're retaining the right people, and [especially] your high performers, is becoming a pretty big concern at most companies today.

Scot: I suppose the new health-care laws also have to be modeled, and a lot of different information has to come into the HR department to figure out how much benefits are we extending, do we want to hire so many extra people to get to a minimum number.

Emma: Yeah, exactly. The health care laws impact the part-time workforce especially. So for companies that have a large part-time workforce, such as retail, grocery, hospitality, pharmacy, they are going to be especially affected by these health-care laws. So it's important to calculate the balance of benefits versus the importance of retaining your workforce, and how that equals out. It's going to be different for every company, the model. There's not going to be one pat model that everybody follows.

Scot:There are tools out there for companies that they can plug in their information and they should be able to get optimum spend on health care.

Emma: I don't know so much about [those] tools. I think that's more of a  business practice. I wouldn't say there's a ton of technology out there, at least from my perspective, to help people with that. I would say that there is a lot of research being done, and that companies such as . . . ADP, Kronos, as well, I know are doing a lot of webinars, putting out research papers, reports, that are getting a lot of interest from companies.

Scot: Right. I remember ADP came out with a report a few months ago that was sort of spelling out this problem that companies are going to have to face. But they didn't go so far as to say "this is how you solve it."

Emma: Yeah, that's the kind of catch there. So they recommend [that] companies [come] to them, and [with] the consulting part of their business, they can help companies through that. With their own customers, they can obviously extend a lot of help there, as well.

Scot: One of the things we were talking earlier about was this trend that combines global and local. "Glocalization," they call it, in HR. What are they talking about?

Emma: The theme of the conference was "The World is Local."  So glocalization, as you said, it kind of blends [globalization]  with a local perspective. So as companies expand globally, it's becoming more important to tailor HR practices to those specific markets. When you think about it, hiring practices in America, maybe at corporate offices, are not necessarily going to be the right practices in an emerging market. So HR managers are trying to think about how they need to tailor . . . notably hiring, but also that extends to anything within HR's purview, such as learning, leadership development, succession planning. All of those [areas] are having to be tailored to a local basis.

Scot: HR information systems and talent management systems. What's going on with them?

Emma: Well, [with] HRIS systems,. . . one of the Bersin analysts, Katherine Jones, led a session on HRIS trends and talent management trends. And one of the things she found in her research is that HRIS systems today are quite old. I think the average was seven years old. So as companies begin to think about replacing these systems, because there are a lot of faster, more efficient, more up-to-date systems on the market, it seems like they're doing so with an eye towards consolidating their HR systems. Today, companies have a lot of HR systems, especially multinational companies. So as customers begin to think about replacement, they're also having an eye towards what other products might this vendor have that I could expand the suite and have it all be integrated.

Scot: What about the cloud? Are they looking in that direction? Software-as-a-service as opposed to on-premise.

Emma: Absolutely. HR is an area where the cloud has definitely taken root. During that session, actually, there was an audience question about the cloud products, and how do you start getting to a more hybrid model. If you are running a big on-premise installation, and you want to break off some pieces to the cloud, how do you get started doing that? It occurred to me that there's no shock factor with the cloud for HR anymore. It's just accepted as it's here and we are going to start incorporating it. Some companies are just totally on the cloud wagon.

Scot: Great. Now, let me ask you one more question. Did you meet anybody there at the conference that's looking for HR solutions, and what kinds of things, what kinds of needs are they really trying to meet with this kind of software and service?

Emma: I did meet some people that were looking for new systems. And what I found was that HR's concern for specific features is fairly universal, in that they're all coming at it from a place of, in this war for talent, they want to recruit the best people, onboard them faster, identify high performers and make sure that they are getting them into a leadership development pipeline. So from that perspective, the vendors are all giving the same message of, yes, we can do that. We can meet those needs.

I did find that integration is becoming more important for HR users. It seems like people's conception of integration varies. For instance, HR is a market where there's been a lot of consolidation, a lot of acquisition. And oftentimes, these products are not integrated as well as they could be. I mean, they're integrated on the surface, the interface layer, but not necessarily on the deeper data level.

Scot: Right.

Emma: So I do think that it's sometimes a surprise to people when they buy something that's, called an "integrated package," that [doesn't] necessarily function all together as well as it could. So I did notice that among users, that was becoming more of a concern --integration and how well [a system] actually does integrate underneath the covers versus just on the surface.

Scot: That's a good tip. Thank you, Emma.

Emma: Thank you, Scot.

Scott: This has been Scot Petersen, Editorial Director of the Business Applications and Architecture group at TechTarget. I've been talking with Emma Snider, Associate Site and News Editor for SearchFinancialApplications, who was at the Impact 2013 conference last week in Fort Lauderdale. Thanks for listening.


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