10 new trends in HR technology signal big disruptions

10 new trends in HR technology signal big disruptions

Posted by Josh Bersin on November 24, 2015.

Imagine a human resources application that runs on your phone, knows your location, and recommends people with which to network. It provides continuous onboarding and transition assistance. It also evaluates time-management aptitude to help improve productivity, automatically assess work behaviors, offer feedback on improving work-life balance, and offer on-the-job skills training. It may even share exercise and healthy eating tips where and when you need them.

These are just a few examples of the types of innovations emerging to help improve productivity at work. These are also among the technology trends that appear in a new report, HR Technology for 2016: 10 Big Disruptions Ahead.
Increasingly, HR technology providers are designing applications for employees first, enabling workers to learn and develop, collaborate, share feedback, steer their careers, and even manage other people more effectively. The HR technology market is bursting with new applications that shift the focus toward more consumer-like experiences. This reflects a major shift from a decade ago, when HR systems were designed primarily to streamline the work of HR administration, improve record-keeping, and help redesign HR processes.

In fact, during my 15+ years as analyst, I have never seen so many new vendors and capabilities, and so much new talent entering the HR technology marketplace. Nearly every part of HR—from sourcing to recruiting to talent and performance management—is being transformed.

In addition to building technology tools focused on engaging employees, we have identified several other transformational changes underway across the HR technology landscape.

These disruptive trends include the following:

  • Mobile apps emerge as a new HR technology platform. There are now more than 2.1 billion smartphone users on the planet.1 Some of the breakthrough areas of mobile in the coming year likely will be engagement and feedback systems, as well as apps for learning; employee feedback and performance check-ins; collaboration, and video interviewing.
  • ERP vendors catch up as credible talent management providers. ERP vendors are catching up as credible and effective providers of comprehensive talent management solutions that support recruiting, learning, and a range of people management tools that can meet the needs of large, complex organizations.
  • “Built for the cloud” technology providers redefine HR functions. A new “third wave” of vendors is emerging with talent solutions that are consumer-like in ease of use, very inexpensive to buy, and built for mobile and the cloud. These new disruptors are having a deep impact on areas ranging from core HR and payroll to recruitment, learning, and employee engagement.
  • New software categories include feedback, engagement, and culture management. I am amazed at the number of new tools being developed for employee feedback, pulse surveys, culture assessment, ongoing engagement monitoring, and new agile approaches to goal management and performance management. One vendor will soon release a feedback app that could make all of our meetings and conference calls more useful and productive.
  • Performance and goal management are reinvented with feedback and check-ins. Traditional year-end performance management is giving way to more agile, real-time, and feedback-centric approaches. As a result, performance management software generally is behind user needs, leaving startups to formulate new models as big vendors go through redesign efforts.
  • New learning experience middleware moves to integrate content from everywhere. The growing need for skills development has created tremendous demand for easy-to-use professional development software from a wide range of sources. New middleware companies are trying to address this need by bringing together content into an integrated learning experience.
  • The field of predictive analytics vendors and solutions continues to grow. Emerging new vendors offer a range of new solutions, from predicting attribution based on external data such as open jobs and social media activity, to software that recommends which courses employees should take if they want to mimic the experiences of their career idols.
  • Despite the growth of cloud computing, demand for technology services continues. A common fallacy about cloud computing is that it will make customization, consulting, and management services obsolete. Our experience shows that organizations that purchase new cloud-based HR systems experience challenges during the transition. As cloud-based HR tools become the new standard, it’s important for organizations to select vendors that deliver high levels of services, have open-programming interfaces, have experience in the buyers’ particular industry, and fit the business culture.
  • As the pace of innovation is accelerating, employee engagement is critical. As the market moves from licensed software to cloud-based systems to mobile technologies, companies should evaluate the success of their HR technologies by their employees’ engagement with these systems.

The HR technology landscape is changing more rapidly than ever before, and it is important for organizations to take a look at the transformational changes underway. If you are interested in learning more about these trends, please join me for an online webinar, “HR Technology 2016: Ten Big Disruptive Trends,” at 2:00 PM ET/19:00 GMT on Tuesday, December 1, 2015.


Josh Bersin is the founder and a principal of Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting LLP, a leading research and advisory firm focused on corporate leadership, talent, learning, and the intersection between work and life. Josh is a published author on Forbes, a LinkedIn Influencer, and has appeared on Bloomberg, NPR, and The Wall Street Journal, and speaks at industry conferences and to corporate HR departments around the world. You can contact Josh on Twitter at @josh_bersin and follow him at http://www.linkedin.com/in/bersin. Josh’s personal blog is at www.joshbersin.com.

1 “Internet Trends 2015–Code Conference,” KPCB/Mary Meeker, May 27, 2015, www.kpcb.com/internet-trends.

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