What's the State of HR Technology?

New study reveals steady progress but key gaps remain

By Aliah D. Wright Jul 30, 2015
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While more HR professionals are using talent management technology, according to a new report, gaps remain where HR technology could be better used: in integrating day-to-day work activities, for critical analytic purposes and in meeting the needs of Millennials who expect the technology they use at work to mirror the technology they use in their personal lives.

The 2015 HR Technology Report released by SilkRoad, which provides cloud-based talent management solutions, indicates slow but steady progress in the use of talent management technology, according to a news release announcing the findings. The report, which was conducted online among more than 150 recruiting and talent professionals, did not provide a margin of error. Itanalyzed research results on HR technology advancement, including data effectiveness, adoption trends and integration.

Although more and more companies report using HR technologies as well as data to make changes, the report describes this progress as "evolution, not revolution."

“Top priorities for HR teams focus on adding more applications and better integration of existing talent management solutions,” the news release stated. In addition to explaining trends, the report provided nine action recommendations to help HR departments optimize their technology use.

"Slow but steady progress is good news, but HR technology offers so much more potential," said John Shackleton, president and CEO of SilkRoad. "Use of a tightly connected talent management suite—with the secret sauce of data integration—brings so many benefits, including the use of strategic data, a consistent user experience and increased productivity. It can truly impact business results."

The report also reveals:

  • Most companies in the study were at early (44 percent of respondents) to intermediate (49 percent of respondents) phases in automating and integrating their systems, while the largest companies tended to be at more mature stages (7 percent of respondents) in the adoption cycle.

  • Fully integrated talent management systems are not a reality for most companies yet.

    “Professionals noted that a lack of technical integration deprives them of critical data and causes inconsistent workflow,” the report stated. “There’s clearly a need for the bits and pieces of standalone tools to be consolidated into a single cohesive system.”

  • Inarguably, workforce data gives HR a strategic business advantage. Yet, fewer companies had plans for data analytics in the coming year—even though experts suggest investing in talent analytics is imperative for HR.

    “HR must put some muscle behind mobility to remain competitive, especially for recruiting applications, so that candidates can easily find positions via handheld devices,” the report said.

    Other reports back this up: According to Jobvite’s 2015 Job Seeker Nation Study, 21 percent of people surveyed said it is important for them to be able to apply for a job from their mobile devices. Additionally, 47 percent of Millennials surveyed by Jobvite said they used a mobile device in their last job search.

    SilkRoad’s survey found that more companies plan to introduce new applications and integrate existing ones in the coming year. Companies are also seemingly well-aware of complex trends in system usability—the demand for self-service applications and well-designed user interfaces for both employees and candidates.

    “Still, to realize the full business value of talent management technology, HR leaders must continue to translate their awareness into action: Develop a cohesive strategy for technology, present a strong business case for the benefits and build interdisciplinary teams across departmental boundaries,” SilkRoad’s report said.

    9 Things to Do

    SilkRoad offered nine actions that human resource information technology managers can take to “kick their HR technology up a notch”:

    1. Be a supporter of HR technology. Own the initiative.

    2. Be prepared. Keep up with the latest trends in technology, “so you’re prepared to articulate the strategic value of the system you choose. Sharpen your ‘numbers’ skills so that you’re confident analyzing metrics the system will provide,” the report said.

    3. Pinpoint main stakeholders in any efforts for automation and/or integration. Partner across the organization with IT, the executive suite, sales, marketing or other departments to build support.

    4. Make system usability a priority and design it for the important issues.

    5. Clearly define requirements for each group of users.

    6. Identify key performance indicators for success and continually set company expectations.

    7. Develop a robust rollout plan with clear milestones and timelines—even when deploying a single application or feature change. Be certain your approach guarantees a manageable project.

    8. Prepare a communication plan as well as a technical plan so employees are able to understand the upsides and downsides of the new technological changes. For example, know and explain what HR technology can and cannot do.

    9. Don’t forget to make a plan to train administrators as well as employees.

    Aliah D. Wright is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

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