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Hello again from day two of the 2019 HR Tech Conference in Las Vegas.

HRTech2019---day-3The sessions I attended today were marked by some fascinating and enlightening discussions of trends in the development and purchasing of HR technology. One focused on how we got here, another predicted where the industry is going, and a third spelled danger for employers who insist on looking backward.

Josh Bersin: How Technology is Shaping the New HR Agenda

Speaking to a packed house, HR industry expert and thought-leader Josh Bersin began his presentation with some sobering facts.

  • 77% of CEOs believe their workforce does not have the creativity required to reinvent their business.
  • 55% of employees worry automation or other innovations will take their job away, while 83% of employees believe it is their responsibility—not their employer’s—to reskill themselves.
  • The “average” US worker puts in 47 hours per week, while 20% of the workforce logs 60 hours or more.
  • 40% of workers now suffer from moderate to severe burnout, costing employers $190 billion per year. (See my blog from yesterday to learn how burnout disproportionately affects women.)

These challenges led Bersin to address the role of the employee experience (the biggest buzzword in HR since engagement) in attracting, engaging and retaining valuable talent.

“We’re not building software for HR anymore—we’re building it for employees,” Bersin said. “If employees don’t find it useful, if it doesn’t fit into ‘the flow of work,’ then it’s not going to be used.” Bersin calls it a buzzword, but it’s much more. Employee experience is where technology vendors are investing a massive amount of time and resources—a trend Bersin predicts will continue in 2020 and beyond.

Employee-centric tools that fit into the flow of work, is “the big existential thing the tech community is working on,” Bersin concluded. “And that means there are going to be some winners and losers in the marketplace.”

Survey Sheds Light on Today’s HR Priorities

The second most important session I attended today was Stacey Harris’ presentation of Sierra-Cedar’s 2019-2020 HR Systems Survey. Now in its 22nd year, the survey uncovers HR system trends for the coming year, as well as today’s vendor adoption statistics, forecasts, user experience scores and best practices of high-performing organizations.

Highlights included:

HR Needs to Own Its Value. Efforts to transform HR over the last six years have resulted in a 20% increase in respondents who view the HR functions as contributing strategic value, with executives 25% more likely to view HR as strategic compared to HR directors or managers.

Measure What Matters for Better Outcomes. Eighty percent of organizations regularly report on employee turnover metrics, while fewer than 25% report on performance, learning or productivity.

Buyers Look for More Functionality. Over 50% of respondents feel their HRMS and talent management (TM) applications have functionality gaps, and TM applications continue to receive the lowest user experience ratings of all applications

Know Your Data and Assign Ownership. Employee data is captured on average in 3.2 non-HR sources, including wearables, social media, mobile devices, and artificial intelligence tools. Yet, only 12% of organizations have a strategy to manage the employee data footprint.

HR Can Achieve Repeatable Outcomes. Elevating the perception of HR and investing in specific approaches to HR technology strategy, integration and change management correlate to 15% year-over-year increases in overall HR, talent and business outcomes.

The full survey results are available in a free downloadable white paper from Sierra-Cedar.

Consultant Makes Case for Breaking with Tradition… Boldly

Another notable session I attended was The HR Tech Divide: What New Technologies Customers Want (But Vendors Can't Quite Deliver). TechVentive CEO Brian Sommer made the case for big, transformational HR technology changes, especially for more mature organizations or those who have undergone transformations of their own over the years, such as mergers, acquisitions or other activities that tend to disrupt HR’s effectiveness.

“Sometimes, the vendor who got you here for the last ten, fifteen or twenty years may not be the vendor that’s able to move you forward,” Sommer said. “Oftentimes, the HR apps you’re used to were never designed for people beyond the HR department. And, a lot of those apps were designed at a time when the technology was extremely expensive and terribly constrained.”

Many legacy vendors, he explained, are very reluctant to change their highly customized solutions because of the difficulty involved, but they’re more than happy to sell you on add-ons they claim will eliminate those constraints. Vendors who are consistently trying to land net new customers are the ones who are coming out with leading edge products, rather than simply trying to retain the customers they already have through incremental changes or stop-gap measures

“Incremental change is not where you want to be,” Sommer concluded. “It’s death by a thousand cuts.” Today’s employers, he said, don’t have the time or the energy for fifty implementations of the same old technology with only a small margin of improvement.

“It’s like Johnny Cash’s song, One Piece at a Time, in which the singer talks about taking car parts home from his job at the Cadillac factory over the course of 25 years, each part coming from a different make and model,” Sommer mused. “Can you imagine what that car looked like!?”

For HR pros who want to move forward boldly, Sommer finished his presentation with this to-do list:

  • Reimagine your key processes
  • Broaden your search to include multiple new providers
  • Focus on big productivity improvements
  • Seek ways to improve business results, not just HR efficiencies
  • Look for mechanisms to create real competitive advantage
  • Develop detailed scenarios regarding:
    • Integrations
    • Big data
    • Required apps
    • Indemnity
    • Privacy
    • Security

When you’re ready to issue your RFP, take advantage of Businessolver’s guide, the Art of the RFP, complete with more than 250 sample questions.

Get the Guide


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