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Kate Wadia

Phase 3 Consulting

Managing Director

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Looking ahead in 2017: What will be trending in HR tech?


In 2016 we saw disruption and change in the UK market for HR systems, and 2017 looks to be the same.

But change – and in particular, adoption rates – for new people technology is more cloud than blue sky. Few ideas come totally out of that blue and we can therefore find some pretty good clues about what is about to happen[1].

Here are my twitter-friendly tips as to the HR headlines we’ll be posting the most next year; this presumably being the modern day equivalent of educated dinner party conversation. Read on for where to aspire to for your HR systems, and what to look out for in the year ahead.

Give way #cloud – let’s ask about #mobile

As HR will start to assume that HCM software is cloud-based, we’ll ask instead whether applications are truly built for mobile and focus on a design that offers the true app experience for our employees.

This means stuff as simple as, for example, what you’ve got to do with your fingers to use the mobile screens.

Mid-sized #employers of 500-5,000 get busy

The options for your HR systems are increasing and you are becoming the hot property of system vendors, because the applications themselves offer opportunity for both bigger and smaller solutions to fit your bill.

Smaller employers can also start to invest in HR tech – because you won’t need to invest much!

Savvy-shoppers recognise #systemselection

With a plethora of choice and decreasing life-cycles for HR systems within an organisation, we should appropriately wake up to the importance of investing time and resource in those systems choices.

Smaller employers can also start to invest in HR tech – because you won’t need to invest much!

To date, this isn’t something we’ve been too good at in HR and it is worth some “lessons learned” exercises from implementation projects past.

#Payroll gets exciting – #cloud-based pay takes to the skies

Traditionally payroll systems have had an even longer life-span in our teams than core HR solutions, but that's no longer the case with the cloud!

Built-for-cloud payroll systems – some of which will now venture into true self-service cloud-based pay for the end user employee – are not only cheap as chips, but proving that staying compliant on the new platforms doesn’t take what it used to.

Taking on #talent – #recruiters watch who’ll win the #warfortalent

Core HR systems may not make up for lost ground in the recruiting market. With more of a DIY approach in recruiting and increasingly “gig”, will there be a revisit to bolt-on solutions being the right thing for recruitment?

Perhaps watch out for new products and employer services from Linked In, Glassdoor etc?

As linear performance management is eroded, in 2017 I think the top disruptors and industry thinkers will coin new categories for us

Blurring boundaries – we coin new categories in #HRtech

Already we need to qualify our definitions of an ATS, an LMS, an engagement tool.

As linear performance management is eroded, in 2017 I think the top disruptors and industry thinkers will coin new categories for us, where performance and talent touch people management, or recruiting meets feedback.

Pulse source, social profiler, team gamer, networker, brand builder as HR tools? (I made these up, but thankfully I don’t have to develop the technology that delivers them.)

Countdown to #agile implementation

In 2017 the average implementation times should come down within HR systems projects. And this should not be because of business-pack style pre-configuration work (or a shoddy job) but of newly built product bases that allow for speedier configuration and customisation due to the layering of the technology behind it.

HR will have to start asking more questions about this from potential suppliers, as…

Forget #SaaS – in 2017 now it’s #PaaS

Which is “platform as a service” as opposed to “software as a service”. I’m not techie enough to fully grasp this concept, but suffice to appreciate that the why question for HR is answered in the ease with which products can be scaled up, integrated with other solutions and configured or customised.

We in HR have the most to learn about how to use technology

Lots to learn in #learning, and #blendedlearning going social

Surely it is in the ways in which our employees wish to learn that we in HR have the most to learn ourselves about how to use technology.

The same blurring of modular boundaries and HR silo splits, together with the mobile experiences possible – and frankly what is out there on YouTube – offers vast potential for the blended learning of 2017 and beyond for the LMS to reinvent itself.

#Contracts become more complex and #disrupt licensing models

As HR turn to vendors to ask about partnering, income-generation and alternative service solutions, those vendors may need to find new answers to questions about what happens when the license purchase is limiting on employee numbers, or authorised agents and re-sellers.

As IT leaders have done, HR will gain confidence in looking for innovation not just in tech but in terms.

Bring back geography with #brexit

Whilst largely my view is that Brexit will lead to a temporary paralysis (whilst we wait!) rather than huge disruption for HR systems development in the UK, one question that may return to our system selection is the old-fashioned “where are you based?”. This for professional service centres, yes, but for data centres and clouds too.

We won’t simply second those guys from Finance or IT, but we’ll want our own.

#HR will welcome not the bots but the #analysts

2017 is too early to take on the robots, but HR may start to forge real-life new roles within the core team for those with a specialism in HR, people data and BI.

We won’t simply second those guys from Finance or IT, but we’ll want our own. The reporting options themselves will open up and we’ll want a slice of that action and insight.

Fear not for 2017 in HR. This stuff is trendy, but it’s do-able, desirable and doesn’t require a degree in something digital to decipher.


[1] Josh Bersin, writing for Deloitte, must surely remain the leading authority on HR technology change on a global basis. Whilst the Deloittes annual reviews do need some translation to travel across the Atlantic, notice that the overwhelming number of trends find at least a root in reviews from years previous

Author Profile Picture
Kate Wadia

Managing Director

Read more from Kate Wadia

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