2013 was a big year for the annual HR Technology conference, as its well-known co-founder and leader for the past 16 years, Bill Kutik, stepped down, passing leadership of the event to Steve Boese, another familiar name in the community. Beyond the change in leadership, at this year’s show were a large number of vendors that have invested in new technology to advance human capital management (HCM). Overall I noted several interesting trends, some that were similar to those I written about earlier in the year and others that reflect the evolution of innovations seen at last year’s show, specifically expanding the use of mobile access within applications and further extending business collaboration into HCM platforms. In addition, there were other advances driven by market factors such as growth in new recruiting technologies.
There were many newer vendors at the show, and updates to existing products focused on helping companies better manage different parts of the employee recruitment process, a growth spurt that likely corresponds to the ongoing economic recovery. These vendors included Jibe, which showed new recruiting analytics that can help organizations gain visibility into their recruiting activities via features such as improved location analytics and recruiting stage analytics showing where candidates are coming from and where they are dropping off in the process. Another vendor was Zao, which created technology using social media to make the referral management process a more effective part of the recruitment funnel for candidate sourcing. In addition, several others small and large made announcements, such as Ultimate Software, which announced a redesigned recruiting offering; Oracle, which announced several recruitment-related products at OpenWorld; and Talemetry, which partners with many of the larger vendors in the market and continues to invest in its market-leading recruitment product. All of these vendors and others in the recruitment market are making products that have changed what’s possible with recruiting software. It used to be largely about applicant-tracking automation and streamlining, but now it is includes effective recruitment marketing and analytics, as well as more effective matching through big data.
Another significant highlight at this year’s show was how mobile access has become table stakes in most human capital applications. While mobility was an important trend at last year’s show, this year it is not a secondary application but a core part of the application design of many leading systems across HCM segments. Hunite presented an extreme example of how far a vendor can go with mobility in human capital at HR Tech’s Awesome New Technologies session. Its mobile technology helps users gain unified read/write access to all of their HR systems, regardless of vendor, on their mobile phones. And with the fall 2013 release of its system, SumTotal centers on the mobile user, making its entire system fully mobile and optimized for touch screens, and has deepened the platform’s social capabilities to extend across multiple parts of its product line. Cornerstone OnDemand, as I discussed earlier this year and again in the September 2013 release, built core mobile capabilities that are becoming the foundation of its application. Also, Workday has made strong investments in its mobile applications in releases 18 and 19, which I wrote about.
It is worth noting that not just the smaller or best-of-breed vendors have reached this tipping point. Large ERP vendors Infor, Oracle and SAP have also successfully released mobile capabilities within their HCM applications. Oracle has completely mobility-enabled its current release of Oracle Human Capital Management Cloud with HTML5 and released a full-featured version of Oracle Tap, its native mobile device application. SAP SuccessFactors also has mobility-enabled most parts of its HCM application, giving managers and end users easy-to-use tools. Infor has started to release mobile applications that are integrated with different parts of its HCM offering. The trend toward mobility in human capital applications has been reflected several times in our benchmark research, which shows that in the workforce management segment more than half of organizations have already deployed smartphones and tablets. And this is a growing priority, with approximately one-third presently using these devices and 18 percent planning to deploy more of them.
Another trend that is approaching a tipping point is business collaboration functionality embedded in HCM applications, a topic we discussed last year as well. While not as mature as the evolution of mobility within HCM, business collaboration is powerful. In past years business collaboration has existed mostly in the recruiting and learning segments of HCM products. However, vendors have now extended it into other processes within HCM, and deeper within those products. In the best-of-breed category Peoplefluent, which received this year’s Ventana Research Technology Innovation Award for Business Collaboration, has embedded business collaboration capabilities and real-time communication capabilities across its product suite. SumTotal Systems and Cornerstone OnDemand also extended business collaboration outside learning and recruiting, though both historically are learning system vendors embedding business collaboration capabilities in performance management, core HR management and other application areas. TribeHR, which is being acquired by NetSuite, provides core business collaboration capabilities that span its suite of HCM products for small and midsize businesses. Vendors including Oracle, SAP and Infor similarly have started to embed business collaboration in core processes of their HCM suites. SAP is using the SAP Jam product to build business collaboration across most of its HR processes such as performance, learning, onboarding and HR management. Similarly, Oracle uses its Oracle Social Cloud infrastructure to provide business collaboration capabilities across its HCM applications. Also, Infor has created Infor Ming.le, a business collaboration product that embeds business collaboration capabilities directly into the company’s HCM suite. Other and not as well known providers like Newsgator provide a social collaboration platform that can integrate to other HCM offerings like Oracle and SAP and can be used as an employee portal and also accessed via mobile technology. Another great example is RoundPegg that takes the context of culture and uses collaboration to engage employees on the mission, values and goals of an organization.
Also new this year are more extensive business collaboration capabilities in workforce management systems. Several vendors, including market leaders ADP, Ceridian, Infor, and Kronos have increased workforce scheduling efficiencies with Twitter-like broadcast capabilities and Facebook-like wall posting to help workers find shifts they want and help managers fill them more effectively. According to our benchmark research on next-generation workforce management, these are in the top five most popular business collaboration capabilities. Our upcoming Next-Generation Workforce Management Value Index will evaluate leading vendors in this area of business collaboration.
The growth and evolution of recruiting, mobile access and business collaboration in HCM are trends that benefit HR leaders by helping them meet their ultimate business goals more effectively. Such investments by vendors are also making the user experience more compelling and will therefore improve usability, which our benchmark research shows is the most important factor in evaluating technology products. So take a look at these new and updated products if your business is going to be conducting an evaluation in the coming months. Used correctly this next generation of products can improve the way your processes flow, the quality of your information and the way your people interact.
VP & Research Director