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Making sense of HR Tech

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The enormity of the HR Tech conference hits you as you enter the exhibit hall with 500+ vendors. How organizations make sense of all the tech trends and vendors present can’t be an easy task – as shown by some consistent themes we heard at the conference:

  1. Indecision. With all of the platforms and point solutions available, attendees seemed to be more overwhelmed than relieved.
  2. Regret. Cloud-based Human Capital Management (HCM) software buyers have stratified their program design to implement SaaS solutions, only to struggle finding value now that they are in place.
  3. Redirection. Pure IT buyers had a significant presence at this HR conference, leading us to wonder if HR decisions are being made only through an IT lens.

Technology should be a benefit to its users.

Certainly, it wasn’t all doom and gloom. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is advancing to the point where it isn’t just about cost avoidance but truly a benefit to end users. The role of AI has expanded to include new tools to help people achieve their physical, financial, and professional goals. And this, in turn, can help the organization achieve its business goals.

Workforce analytics is also expanding beyond the narrow siloes of talent, benefits, wellness, or population health to consider how all intersect and impact the employee experience and benefit the individual. Predictive analytics can also be used to help the organization plan its talent strategy, its rewards strategy, and its HR execution. The more that happens, the greater the benefit to the individual and the organization.

Here’s what our surveys and discussions revealed.

In our Global Wellbeing Survey released earlier this year, 62% of employers currently have a comprehensive portal experience – a hub – that brings all of HR together around the individual.  Of those who don’t, 59% expect to in the next two to three years.

When we also surveyed the HR technology buyers at the show in our Digital Frontier Survey we found only 47% have a hub, although 71% of those who don’t currently have this type of solution plan to implement a portal within the next three years.

We also heard conference attendees express a consistent need to do a better job of taking disparate systems, inflexible platforms, and a user experience (UX) that didn’t align with an employer’s Employee Value Proposition (EVP), to create a more compelling, holistic approach.

Our Global Wellbeing Survey respondents also found an incredible effectiveness rating of 84% for those who use predictive analytics. And yet, despite that effectiveness, only 27% have predictive capability in place. That number was consistent with what we found at the conference (29% have predictive tools). HR Tech attendees, however, were a bit more jaded, with only 48% saying these tools do a good job of predicting HR scenarios. This is an area of significant cost for organizations, so it’s no surprise that IT buyers are influencing the selection of tools that can include business scenarios and financial data in the mix, rather than just predict talent needs in isolation.

Vendors’ focus seemed at odds with the needs of HR tech buyers.

Oddly, most vendors at HR Tech were still focused on pure talent analytics, or pure population health, or pure benefits. That speaks to the third theme above: HR can have a significant spot at the analytics table only if the entire picture of people analytics is considered, helping IT see the value of full people data analysis.

Many of the attendees we met embraced the model of pulling the entire HR landscape together for the individual, through a consistent UX, as well as for the organization, through powerful analytics tools.

Those stuck in indecision are looking for one system to tie it all together. Others, who regretted implementing an inflexible system, were looking for new ways to deliver their distinct EVP through a compelling interface. We also spoke to executives who are relying on other aspects of the business, such as IT, for technology funding and buy-in, and who dream that people and business decisions can be made with all relevant data aggregated.

Getting to a better HR technology strategy.

HR technology should be able to help companies use analytics to make smarter decisions, faster. Back-room administration platforms should enable informed decision-making to improve both personal and business outcomes. Employee-facing systems should make it easier for people to use their benefits and track their progress against their health, wealth, and career goals.

This alignment of individual value and organizational impact – also known as the social contract – is critical to business success. And, when it comes to HR tech, it’s the only business strategy that makes sense.

 

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