Employers Look to Move HR Tech to Mobile, Cloud

When it comes to technology, people have mobile on their mind.

This should come as no surprise. According to research firm IDC, nearly half of the U.S. population uses a smartphone. And by 2017, the percentage of smartphone users is expected to reach 68 percent.

What might be more of a surprise: When it comes to human resources software, mobile’s adoption is lagging. According to a 2014 HR technology survey by Human Capital Media Advisory Group, the research arm of Talent Management, just 19 percent of respondents say they’re working on making their systems “mobile friendly” (Figure 1).

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To be sure, respondents intend to change that. When asked what kind of HR software they plan to purchase in the next year, mobile came in first; 20 percent of respondents said they anticipate making their systems more mobile-friendly in the year ahead.

Meanwhile, the technologies cited as a priority by respondents this year — workforce management, recruiting and learning — weren’t in the top five as a priority for next year, according to the survey. When asked about purchases planned for the next three years, mobile also took the lead.

The HCM Advisory Group survey, administered in April, included responses from 176 HR professionals from companies of varying size and industry. Overall, respondents said their organization’s spending on HR technology is growing; almost half said they’re likely to replace, upgrade or re-implement their core HR platform in the next three years.

By and large, respondents in the survey said their workforce is somewhat satisfied with their firm’s HR technology (59 percent), while 28 percent said their workforce is dissatisfied. Just 12 percent said they were highly satisfied with their HR technology (Figure 2).

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Mobile isn’t the only budding technology on HR leaders’ minds. Cloud-based software, also known as software-as-a-service, is also gaining steam. According to the survey, nearly half of respondents said they’re using cloud-based software, while 40 percent of HR leaders said they’re exploring the medium. Just 11 percent of respondents said they dislike it.

Respondents said the benefits of cloud-based software technology are the ability to store, access and communicate data remotely. Moreover, those who said they were exploring the move to the cloud said they were motivated by accessibility, cost savings and mobility (Figure 3). 

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HR departments are also employing social networking for HR-related purposes. Nearly 42 percent of respondents said they use one or more tools for recruiting, 28 percent said they use one or more tools for collaboration, and 11 percent said they use one or more tools for employee wellness (Figure 4).

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Meanwhile, just more than 10 percent of respondents said they use one or more social media tools for benefits management. About 8 percent said they use the medium for rewards and recognition.

Respondents also claimed to have the necessary expertise to use HR technology effectively. Roughly 64 percent said they were effective in using HR technology; only 18 percent said their HR staffs weren’t.

About half of respondents in the survey rated their HR technology providers as average when it comes to their ability to act as a business partner. About 15 percent rated them as above average, while just 3 percent rated them as excellent.

Though most respondents say their companies are increasing their investment in HR technology, cost is still a big factor in the decision-making process. According to the survey, cost rated as the most important factor when choosing a technology vendor, followed by “product fits organization context” and “appropriateness of product.”

Meanwhile, ease of use and scalability were rated the least-important factors when choosing an HR technology vendor.

Finally, nearly 60 percent of respondents in the survey said their organizations did not have a bring-your-own-device policy. About 28 percent said they did have one and nearly 15 percent said they’re working on it.

The biggest concern companies have regarding BYOD is security. About 75 percent of survey respondents said “making sure our data is safe” was their biggest concern with BYOD.