HR is accelerating adoption of cloud and SaaS technology models

24 April 2017

The HR technology model landscape has expanded in recent years on the back of a range of new service models, including HR analytics and cloud-based offerings such as Software-as-a-Service.

The use of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) based services in the HR technology model has been steadily increasing in recent years as companies explore ways in which to reduce costs and access new innovation in the space. In a new report from ISG, the technology research and consultancy firm explores the current market dynamics in the HR Tech space, based on a survey of over 200 managers at companies of varying sizes across industries.

HR technology model now and to 2020

According to the firm’s analysis, as company HR technology solutions age, and become legacy options with respect to modern counterparts, SaaS and hybrid options for HR technology models have steadily grown, last year totalling 12% and 10% of systems at surveyed companies respectively.

The firm’s projections see the number of SaaS and hybrid solutions continue to grow in the years to come. By 2018 SaaS solutions are set to represent 27% of the market, with particularly the market share of licensed software on-premise suffering, while hybrid systems are project to account for 18% of the market share. By 2020 SaaS is set to hit 32% of market share while hybrid systems may account for 21%.

Important features in selecting HR technology

The firm also sought to identify what features enterprise clients were particularly keen on in the HR technology they leverage. Data security comes top of the list, cited by 84% of respondents as must have and 13% as nice to have. The ease of use takes second position, cited by 77% of respondents as must have, and 21% as nice to have.

The research also noted deapth of functionality and price as key must haves, at 74% and 69% of respondents respectively. While social features and a modern look / feel were noted by the fewest number of respondents as must have, at 30% and 38% respectively.

Top three benefits organisation may gain from HR SaaS technology

The firm also asked respondents what they thought were the main benefits of adopting SaaS-based HR solutions.

SaaS was cited by the largest number of respondents as able to reduce the cost of ownership. The firms notes however that companies need to carefully plan the transition, as well as have a suitably long programme horizon, to realise the benefits – wither implementation sometimes more costly than customers anticipate. Reduced dependence on IT is cited as the second major benefit, in part due to the relatively lower importance given to HR from IT. The often new systems offered by SaaS providers have the additional benefit of improving the employee experience (31%), while the technology platform duplication aspect of the technology means that speed to implement and achieve value are viewed as beneficial by 29% of respondents.

The areas indicated as having the lowest benefit for SaaS adoption include establishing a variable and predictable cost structure (16%) and improve integration of data and applications (17%).

Benefits of SaaS adoption

The research also considered how different role segments stood in relation to various benefits associated with SaaS adoption. Information technology respondents were particularly of the opinion that SaaS reduces the total cost of ownership (46%), although they were less likely to believe that the technology improved employee engagement (17%). 36% of operations level respondents, on the other hand, said that SaaS improved employee engagement, although they were less likely to say that the solutions created a reduced total cost of ownership or a reduced dependence on IT (23%).

HR respondents were of the opinion that SaaS reduces total cost of ownership (43%) and reduces dependence on IT (37%), although thy were generally less likely to indicate, than the other two roles, that the technology model improves the employee user experience (26%), speeds implementation and achieved value (26%) and increases scale and leverage (19%).

How is utilisation of HR services delivery model to change

Respondents were also asked how they expect their utilisation of a number of HR models to change through to 2018.

In terms of HR process outsourcing, 8% say that they will begin utilisation, 38% say they will increase utilisation, 29% say that they will not change utilisation while 15% say they will decrease utilisation and 7% will stop utilisation.

In terms of shared services, 6% say that they will likely begin utilisation, 44% say that they will increase utilisation and 25% plan no changes. 19% say they are likely to decrease utilisation and 5% stop utilisation.

According to Debora Card, Partner of HR Technology and Delivery Strategies at ISG, "The strategic shift to cloud-based HR systems requires strategic planning and an enterprise-wide willingness and ability to execute. Organisations need to develop and staff three- to five-year transition strategies as soon as possible. And they need to keep in mind that migration to SaaS/cloud is not a one-and-done activity; rather, it is a series of ongoing transformations. Enterprises need to plan for continuous change in providers, solutions and how those solutions are used in house. Alignment with enterprise business requirements will demand ongoing, dedicated resources."


Why leaders must balance technical expertise with soft skills

17 April 2019

Soft skills matter in the workplace just as much as technical expertise, writes Samantha Caine, Managing Director of Business Linked Teams.

For too long technical expertise has been seen as the marker of a strong candidate for development into a sales or leadership position. Sales and leadership candidates are tasked with demonstrating a diverse and wide-ranging set of technical skills, yet their aptitude in these technical skills or ‘hard skills’ cannot signify great leadership potential. This is why a healthy balance of soft skills and technical ability is required. 

So what exactly is the difference between technical skills and soft skills? In engineering, it’s crucial to demonstrate knowledge of physics as well as a strong grasp on mathematical equations. Yet, in any industry, it’s important for leaders to be able to interact with other people effectively with soft skills like communication, empathy and adaptability. 

Business Linked Team’s 2018 study into internal leadership development revealed that 69% of large organisations are prioritising the identification and development of future leaders from within the workforce. As more and more organisations begin to invest in sales or leadership development within their existing workforces, more focus needs to be placed on ensuring the right soft skills are in place. 

With those soft skills in place throughout the workforce, the business will benefit from a wider pool of potential leaders developing under their noses, and it should be the same where sales candidates are concerned. 

It’s not just about easier access to ideal candidates for these positions without the rigmarole of recruiting from outside of the organisation. The leadership development study also found that 89% of HR decision makers say succession planning has become a top priority. Those currently serving in leadership positions can’t lead forever and the same goes for those generating sales for the business.

Why leaders must balance technical expertise with soft skills

From people leaving for new opportunities or retirement, to people simply stepping aside to focus on other areas of the business, successful leaders and salespeople require experienced and capable successors that will be ready and able to confidently step into their shoes and pick up the mantle without the business experiencing any lapse in performance.

Soft skills make stronger candidates

When it comes to the soft skills required, a strong leader must be able to manage through clear communication and effective time management, coaching and goal setting. They must be able to demonstrate empathy and empower their teams to be successful, productive and fully engaged. And beyond simply giving direction, they must also be able to take direction from those above them and cascade the business strategy down through their teams. 

A strong sales candidate must possess the ability to communicate value to the customer, negotiate well and protect margin or the ability to increase the scope of a particular sales opportunity. 

With the relevant soft skills in place, the business will benefit from increased productivity, greater agility against changing market conditions and greater transparency. In turn, this will provide visibility on issues and inefficiencies while removing opportunity for miscommunication. All of this can transform the culture of a department, improving employee satisfaction and reducing staff turnover. 

Ultimately, developing leadership or sales candidates will require the business to strike the right balance between technical skills and soft skills, and this requires an effective and sustained learning journey.

A balanced learning journey

Facilitating and supporting the development of leadership and sales is best achieved by establishing training groups. By cultivating training groups, businesses are creating talent pools that will inspire and support each other on the learning journey. However, personal goals and learning objectives must be defined for each individual based on their own existing skillsets and the skills that each individual needs to develop. 

With the emergence of e-learning, businesses recognise the value of online-based learning activities, yet many make the mistake of opting for one-size-fits-all solutions which are solely focused on self-study. A development solution will only deliver true return on investment if it combines e-learning activities with group learning activities that provide opportunity for shared experiences and support.

A blended learning solution that combines self-study and face-to-face group learning activities will aid strong development of the talent pool through shared experiences. Through these shared experiences, those undergoing the training will organically develop a support network that supports the development of the group as much as it supports the development of each individual. 

The blended learning approach is supported by one of the seven principles of human learning that socially supported interactions aid the individual development of expertise, metacognitive skills, and formation of the learner’s sense of self. The strongest opportunities for development can be unlocked by blending workshops with online activities such as virtual sessions, peer coaching, self-study, online games and business simulations. But it’s crucial to provide a blend of one-to-one and group sessions too.

Beyond delivering a better learning outcome for the employee, the blended learning approach allows organisations to adapt their training quickly and easily to shifting business demands in an ever-changing landscape.