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HR Software Predictions HCM Software in 2013: A Business Leader Prediction List

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 By Micah Fairchild

2013 HR Technology Predictions for Business Leaders

With the so-called fiscal cliff dominating the airwaves as of late here in the States, a great many minds have taken to speculating what the future is going to hold. Will tax rates go up/down? Will small businesses faced with increasing fiscal burdens slow or freeze hiring? Will the small improvements seen in the economy be spoiled by hyper-partisan gridlock? These are all salient questions to be sure; and ones in which the only consistently true answer remains...only time will tell. In a not so dissimilar fashion, pundits, analysts, and business leaders have taken to their myriad platforms to begin speculation about what 2013 is going to hold for the HR technology world as well—and the answers have been as varied as the voices that have proposed them.

Some, citing the success both on and off Wall Street of Workday, have placed bets that cloud HR software vendors will continue their domination of the software purchasing conversation. Others, like’s Michelle Rafter (in her recent article 2013: A Time for Re-imagining How Work Gets Done), have taken a more micro-level approach—detailing how immigration reform, healthcare, and constrained resources will be some of the major focus areas for 2013. In between these opinions are a host of other speculations; ranging from predictions about online job boards to Human Resource analytics usage estimates.

From our perspective though, many of these arguments (while cogent) fail to truly capture what is going on in the minds of the business leaders looking to buy, supplement, or otherwise replace HR technology investments. So, true to form, after analyzing the trends and speaking with countless executives, here are our top HR software predictions we think will be top of mind for organizations in 2013.

HR Technology Prediction #1: Mobility Simultaneously Heralded and Questioned

Although mobile HR applications have been building in popularity for the past several years, from the businesses we had a chance to sit down with; it’s quite clear that mobile HR technologies will begin officially crossing the chasm to mainstream adoption during 2013. And, as we mentioned in a prior post reviewing 2012 HR Technologies, thanks to the increasingly blurred lines between consumer and workplace technologies, we think that momentum will show no signs of letting up anytime soon. In fact, according to recent research from Frost & Sullivan, one of the biggest indicators for how mobile HR applications are being received is the fact that 2009 revenues of $2.84B for this market are forecast to top $11B by 2014. Interestingly though, it’s still the Financial, Healthcare, and Telecom industries that are leveraging mobile technologies at the greatest rates. In all likelihood however, 2013 will be the year that traditionally lagging sectors such as manufacturing begin to catch up—driven in large part by the innovations that HR software vendors such as Kronos and Ceridian have made on the workforce management front.

Though on the flipside, the increased adoption of mobile HR applications opens up a whole new world of data privacy, information security and mobile device concerns and questions. For instance, who actually owns the mobile devices? Recent Forrester research found that over 75% of corporate technology is being purchased by employees and used for dual home and work purposes; and that BYOD will most likely be the ruling trend by 2014. But what does this mean for mining the precious company data that resides on that personal device? What does that mean for related policies and security? More importantly, what does that mean for the organization’s infrastructure and safeguarding of company data? While the benefits of leveraging mobile HR applications are well understood and will play the largest role in driving the adoption surge we predict, expect 2013 to also be the year that these questions come to the forefront as well.

HR Technology Prediction #2: Big Data Sees Increased Traction

Among the more banal terms bandied about during 2012, few received more attention (or sometimes ire for that matter) than Big Data. So why then do we think that Big Data will be so “big” during 2013? Simply put, 2012 served as the year that this trend fully emerged in conversation—and 2013 will be the year that many organizations finally begin to take action. After all, the selling points for a big data strategy are fairly well-established and documented—and have proven to be a boon for workforce insight and the HR software vendors that offer the capabilities to transform large volumes of raw data into actionable intelligence. Look no further than what Steve Lohr recently penned for the New York Times when he stated, “ setting clever computer algorithms loose on the data troves, you can predict behavior of all kinds...”. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the key; big data delivers visibility and predictive power, and after hearing the pitches for the past year businesses are finally ready to jump on the data train.

Unfortunately, this Big Data fervor can inevitably lead to bad decisions if not managed properly though. Indeed, as Lohr found in speaking with professors from Columbia, Harvard, MIT, and NYU, unchecked analyses derived from data can lead to behavioral loops; in which “a person feeds in data, which is collected by an algorithm that then presents the user with choices, thus steering behavior”. As such, we think this data myopia will be just as present as the solutions themselves as businesses take their first steps into Big Data territory.

HR Technology Prediction #3: HR Identity and Headcounts Will Shift

Much to the chagrin of many an HR representative out there, workplace advances will inevitably lead to changes in the way HR departments are staffed and the areas where strategic focus is centered. Dubious? I don’t blame HR pros, but consider this for example: according to Cedarcrestone’s 2012-2013 HR Systems Survey, SaaS HR solutions (which are set to see a marked increase in adoption) take significantly less staff (approximately 5 FTE versus 30) to support. On top of that, businesses across the globe seem to finally be coming to terms with challenging the long-held beliefs about what the HR function should be doing—segmenting out payroll and benefits operations to either the CFO or an outsourced provider; or even learning and performance to the COO.

Granted, these staffing actions might not necessarily come to fruition in a majority of businesses, but what will affect a number of organizations are the skill-sets that will be increasingly called for in this “plugged-in” environment. As we referenced above with regard to big data, HR will be undoubtedly be asked to analyze their data for information—because it’s the interpretation and actionable takeaways that lead to better decision making; not merely the data on its own. This shift in responsibilities for HR departments will create a void that many businesses will find hard to fill; by in large because data queries and quantitative analyses have not been traditionally viewed as core competencies for HR staff.

2013 HR Technology Predictions: A Hanging Conclusion

As we stated at the very beginning of this post, as it is with the “fiscal cliff”, the future of how businesses utilize HR technologies is up in the air and only time will tell what actually comes to pass. Even so, a paradigm shift is clearly upon us and the many pundits that espoused we’re at an inflexion point are dead on. In the end though, it’s our stance that it’s not so much the changing technologies that are driving this industry change but rather business leaders’ shifting perceptions about HR as a whole. As the transformation continues, we expect greater attention to be given to how HR can impact the bottom line; and while that sentiment is anything but novel, 2013 may well be the year that it actually happens. End

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As Lohr found in speaking with professors from Columbia, Harvard, MIT, and NYU, unchecked analyses derived from data can lead to behavioral loops; in which “a person feeds in data, which is collected by an algorithm that then presents the user with choices, thus steering behavior”.


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