The history of HR technologies has for many years been about functionality. We have been increasing functionality levels for a couple of decades now. Even the recent robust growth of talent management applications has been about functionality. Vendors are fighting in a competition to have a “complete talent management suite” and adding functional components in a build, buy, acquire mode. Companies that have long had HR functionality like SAP went through major functional additions in just the last decade. However, I think we’ve reached a point where functionality is becoming much less important. As we focus ourselves on the customer rather than internally on HR, the shift is going towards integration and customer usability
The shift towards integration basically encompasses the need to better understand what data we actually have on our employees so that we can better deliver analytics to our business executives. We have realized that it really does not matter how much functionality we have if it’s not reportable. Business executives want to see slices of data that come from our multiple disparate sources and don’t care how hard it is for us to pump data into excel, spin it around 5 times to pump meaningful metrics back out. They are angry that it takes 3 days to do this. They expect the same from HR as they get from their SCM and CRM systems.
The shift towards customer usability is much the same as integration, but we believe that as employee’s consume public website like eBay, Google, and Amazon.com, they expect the same organization, usability and informative nature from HR. They also realize that it’s possible to integrate data from multiple sources and aggregate them into a single informative page. An employee does not care if HR’s back end systems number in the dozens, so long as they all talk to each other. God forbid that an employee has to enter the same data into multiple self service systems.
Rather than growing our technological capabilities from a core table, field and data element baseline, I’m pretty sure vendors are realizing the shift in HR focus. We have enough functionality. We don’t provide good enough service and high quality touch points to our ultimate customers. We’ve clearly begun these transitions, and while we have a way to go, the technology focus has clearly shifted.