Viewpoint: HR Technology’s Future Is Bright in Asia

Fast-growing Asian economies are intensely focused on recruiting

Josh Bersin By Josh Bersin March 27, 2017
Viewpoint: HR Technology’s Future Is Bright in Asia

​As we prepare for the SHRM India HR Tech '17 Conference & Expo in Hyderabad, India, in April, I thought it would be interesting to discuss the exploding marketplace for tools and platforms in Asia.

First, as our 2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends research shows, talent challenges and issues are pretty consistent around the world. Every country we surveyed is focused on improving the employee experience, restructuring its companies around a network of teams, integrating HR technology platforms, and improving the use of analytics and artificial intelligence.

Yet there are wide variations in priorities around the world. Companies in fast-growing economies like India, China and other Asian nations are intensely focused on recruiting (10 percent higher priority than the global average), leadership development (a 12 percent higher priority), and training (11 percent higher). These are challenges endemic to growth, so they naturally take on a higher priority in many parts of Asia.

We also find that HR technology in these countries is newer or is just getting started and is often building from mobile first. The HR technology market is mature, and established companies in Europe and the U.S. have many older systems, often dozens of them. I just met with a U.S.-based health care company that does business throughout Europe that has 17 learning management systems, for example, and most of them are licensed (not on the cloud). Many large companies in the U.S. and Europe have PeopleSoft, SAP, Oracle or other legacy products, so they must layer on new platforms to make them work easier (or bite the bullet for a cloud replacement).

Companies in India and other parts of Asia are often operating on much smaller budgets, so they struggle to buy higher-priced systems like Workday and other cloud-based tools. There are many second-tier vendors serving these markets, and many of them do quite well for years, offering core HR and talent systems at a fraction of the cost of the global enterprise resource providers.


[SHRM members-only toolkit: Designing and Managing a Human Resource Information System]

The most important difference in Asia is the focus on the mobile-user experience. I just came back from a senior HR leadership event in Chicago, and U.S. companies are all struggling with older systems to track time and labor, benefits, and learning. The No. 1 priority for every one of these companies is to build a new user experience, often called the "employee experience platform." But this is no longer a web-based portal. Now it's an app.

One of the fastest growing telecommunication companies in India is building an all-digital communication network, focused on revolutionizing mobile computing and apps throughout the country. The company built its entire set of HR applications on mobile (using SAP as the backbone). A person can find a job, submit an application, scan documents, do assessments and receive an offer entirely on his or her phone. Similar applications are being built for all other parts of the talent processes.

All of these applications were built internally.

This, to me, exemplifies the HR technology architecture for Asia: app-driven, rapidly developed, low in cost.

I'm excited to share the new innovations in HR technology in Hyderabad in a few weeks. I hope to see you there.

Josh Bersin is founder and principal of Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting LLP. He is a published author on the Forbes website; is a LinkedIn Influencer; has been quoted by Bloomberg, NPR and The Wall Street Journal; and speaks at industry conferences and to corporate HR departments around the world. He is also the keynote speaker at the SHRM India HR Tech '17 Conference & Expo in Hyderabad in April. Contact him on Twitter @josh_bersin and follow him at

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