New research indicates that HR serviceÂ partners and practitioners have differentÂ viewpoints about HR technology.
By Larry Basinait
Innovations in artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics,Â along with developments in cloud, social, and mobileÂ technologies, are making HR systems more intelligent andÂ more engaging. In fact, HRO Today research shows that inÂ just the first three quarters of 2018, there have been overÂ 125 significant product announcements worldwide in theÂ industry. Not only are there an exploding number of coreÂ cloud-based HCM systems, but billions of dollars are nowÂ being invested in new tools for recruitment, performanceÂ management, engagement, training, diversity andÂ inclusion, analytics, well-being, and more.
But with the growth of so many new systems and tools,Â are HR service partners offering innovation that HRÂ practitioners want or even use? Or are systems becomingÂ too complex and more focused on gadgets and buttonsÂ than workflow capacity improvements?
In 2011, HRO Today posed this question to its readers andÂ membership base and found that there was a disconnectÂ between what HR service partners thought they wereÂ delivering versus what HR leaders believed they wereÂ getting. A new study reexamines attitudes to see if theyÂ have changed over the last seven years and identifies theÂ areas most impacted by technology innovation.
In order to determine how HR leadersâ and HR serviceÂ partnersâ viewpoints about technology innovationâs impactÂ on HR practices have changed, HRO Today surveyed HRÂ professionals who use a variety of HR solutions from aÂ broad spectrum of service partners. The study is sponsoredÂ by Lumesse, a leading international provider of SaaS talentÂ management and talent acquisition solutions. WhereÂ appropriate, results are compared to relevant sections ofÂ the first edition of the study conducted in 2011. In total,Â 100 respondents participated in the survey from the HROÂ Today magazine subscriber list, e-newsletter mailing list,Â and HRO Today Services and Technology Association.
A Closer Look
When the first edition of this study was completed in 2011,Â the prevailing conclusion was clear: HR practitioners andÂ technology service partners were far apart with respectÂ to their attitudes about HR technology offered in theÂ marketplace. At that time, HR service partners consideredÂ the technology they offered far more important, moreÂ innovative, and more applicable to HR workflows and usedÂ more by key stakeholders than HR leaders.
In 2018, that perception largely remained in place, thoughÂ the gap between the views of the two groups across eachÂ measure has narrowed considerably.Â Technology innovation is considered important by theÂ vast majority of study participants, both service partnersÂ and HR practitioners. Technology is transforming how HRÂ operates, and it couldnât do that without considerableÂ respect for the innovation being employed. But thereÂ is a difference in opinion regarding its importanceÂ across talent management applications, performanceÂ management, and HRIS. Technology providers are offeringÂ innovation but HR leaders arenât as enthusiastic about theÂ specific functionality as service partners.
There is also another difference of opinion betweenÂ service partners and practitioners when it comes toÂ the question of whether new technologies are trulyÂ innovative. HR service partners are far more likely toÂ believe in their own technology innovation prowess acrossÂ talent management, performance management, and HRISÂ systems than are HR leaders. The extent of this differenceÂ in opinion has narrowed since 2011, but that differenceÂ still remains significant.
Workflow applicability also impacts opinions aboutÂ technology innovation. In 2018, three-quarters (75Â percent) of service partners overwhelmingly indicated thatÂ they thought the talent management innovations wereÂ directed toward workflow impact compared to only aboutÂ one-third (37 percent) of practitioners. Opinions aboutÂ performance management and HRIS technology followedÂ a similar pattern. HR leaders donât necessarily feel theÂ focus of innovation is on workflow.
HR service partners counter that too many HR practitionersÂ donât understand how to use the talent management andÂ performance management technology they offer, thoughÂ theyâve become more knowledgeable since 2011. Two-thirdsÂ of tech partners now state that HR leaders knowÂ how to use HRISs, up from less than one-half (49 percent)Â in 2011.
Service partners might gain buy-in for new technologyÂ usage more easily by consulting with practitioners aboutÂ how their business strategy aligns with their use ofÂ technology. Less than one-quarter of practitioners feelÂ that they are consulted with often. Soliciting input andÂ collaborating more with service partners might lead toÂ greater acceptance that the innovations being made areÂ applicable to workflow. Further, there could be a greaterÂ use of the product functionality for non-HR staff likeÂ candidates, hiring managers, and line managers if theirÂ needs and expectations were included in product design.
But despite a mostly critical evaluation from practitionersÂ about HR technology innovation, survey respondentsÂ almost universally believe that technology has had a majorÂ impact on them over the last three years. Reporting,Â cloud-based infrastructure, and core functionality wereÂ considered most impacted areas.
Technology innovation means change, and change isÂ hard. HR professionals are getting an increasing amountÂ of technology that they never had to use before andÂ theyâre being asked to provide analytic abilities theyÂ never were required to have. Traditional soft skills ownedÂ by HR departments are still needed, but now thereâs aÂ growing analytic component. HR teams are trying newÂ tools, experimenting with new performance managementÂ models, adopting new learning technologies, and justÂ doing creative things like never before. HR departmentsÂ are learning to use new performance management modelsÂ and new learning strategies and new techniques for talentÂ acquisition.