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Brad Callahan
Vice President, Business Solutions Group

Why HR is Spending on Technology

Change is in the wind for HR and, not surprisingly, it’s being driven by technology. A survey report released by the global professional services organization Towers Watson in June showed that nearly 30 percent of respondents plan to direct a substantial portion of HR spending to technology. As budgets are being cut for traditional HR spends, mobile technologies, talent management systems, HR portals and SaaS (software as a service), and HR data and analytics will see an influx of investment.

As you consider your organization’s HR budget, taking a deeper look at the “why” of this shift can provide ideas for how you might maximize the benefits of your current technologies or even help to build the case for increasing the technology budget in certain areas.

Here are several of the more significant technology trends that support—and enhance—HR functions:

Data and analytics

Organizations are awash in data, and questions about it as well: what data resides where, what’s important and what’s not, and— once that’s sorted out— what to do with the “important” data? With U.S. employee disengagement levels hovering at around 70 percent (Gallup, 2013), “important” data for HR could well be the information gleaned from employee engagement surveys. To get greatest value from your employee engagement surveys:

  • Have clearly defined goals and objectives before you start.
  • Survey at least every two years, and more frequently if your workface is rapidly changing or the organization has experienced structural changes
  • Be sure the survey has senior management’s blessing and broadcast that buy-in. Respondents will take the survey more seriously when that’s in place.
  • Make the survey easy and accessible for participants. Keep it short enough to get just the information you need and simple enough to keep respondents’ attention. And make it accessible for your workforce: are they more comfortable with pencil-and-paper surveys or are they heavy users of mobile?
  • Confidentiality is paramount. You already know this but in our time-challenged environments, mistakes happen. Don’t let them happen here.
  • Analyze and share results, the sooner the better. Then apply appropriately to drive engagement.

Mobile technologies

Mobile HR processes have come a long way in a short time. Just a few years ago, HR’s mobile processes had little more than time and attendance functionality. Today, mobile platforms have a big role in recruitment, performance management, and even as a support tool for online learning. HR Magazine from SHRM reports, “Mobile functionality has emerged as a crucial buying criterion for HR leaders looking to replace or upgrade existing human capital management or talent management systems.”

Mobile is rich with possibilities but it can also lead to unintended, negative consequences if not part of a well-integrated strategy. For example, HR Magazine suggests, if your website’s “careers” page isn’t mobile-optimized, doesn’t include content beyond jobs listings, or doesn’t allow prospective employees to apply for jobs through their tablets or smartphones, you could be losing the competition for top-notch talent.

At the very least, you’ll want your employees to be able to connect with the employee-facing content of your performance management platform from their tablets and smartphones.


SaaS is emerging as the “go to” technology for payroll and talent management. When thoughtfully considered and well implemented, SaaS has the potential to virtually transform the HR function, moving HR to a higher level of efficiency and effectiveness, especially in the area of talent management.  Here’s why:

  • Good talent is hard to find and important to retain. SaaS can connect previously siloed HR technologies and activities into one, enterprise-wide platform
  • SaaS supports the smooth delivery of HR services
  • SaaS can be used to more closely align HR services with the organization’s business needs
  • No need to invest in on-site technology or deal with potential glitches—that’s the SaaS provider’s headache

But if you haven’t already gone the SaaS route, consider the pitfalls as well:

  • Have you thoroughly analyzed cost/benefit? Will the investment ultimately reduce the cost of supporting an in-house technology or is an in-house platform the better option?
  • Will the provider’s system seamlessly integrate with your current processes? And, if your organization has variable workforce levels, is it quickly scalable?
  • Do you have staff who can work directly with the provider during the transition period? What kind of training will be required for system users?

HR technologies aren’t in the future. They are now. Explore the full range of technology solutions available or call a technology solution expert at 800.543.7373.



Press release: “Companies Worldwide Spending More on HR Technology, Towers Watson Survey Finds.”

ZD Net: “HR and talent directors give SaaS a positive appraisal.”

Deloitte Human Capital Trends, 2011: “HR in the Cloud. It’s Inevitable.”

HR Magazine, “Mobile Applications Support HR Functions,” February 1, 2014.