A few of the trends we recently looked at in the #hrwins should start you wondering who the buyer of HR Technology will be in the not-too-distant future.
HR Tech’s continued growth in the SMB. Until recently, other than payroll, we just haven’t seen the traction in the heart of SMB segment that we’ve seen in Enterprise. Especially where 98% of employment in the U.S. happens: Firms with less than 100 employees. In this segment, it’s more rare to find a dyed-in-the-wool HR professional. You’re more likely to find HR responsibilities divided across functional departments, depending on where the needs are. For example, in a retail company of 90, you are most likely to find the decisions around hiring practices and technology in the showroom floor, given the critical nature of hiring there. At the same time benefits and payroll processes are more likely in Finance or Ops/Admin.
The Fortune 100 workforce growing to 50% contingent by 2020. Freelancers, contractors, and employees from Outsourcing firms are going to start mixing in on your projects seamlessly by 2020 and beyond. We’re already seeing this shift get reinforced in the market. We’re going to see more and more staffing vendors start to offer blended solutions from wholesale outsourced functions to contract/contingent labor to Temporary staffing to Freelancers and Direct Hire placement (did you see the Kelly and oDesk announcement? or read that old Free Agent Nation article in Fast Company?) In the Fortune 1000, the contingent workforce spend is generally managed by Purchasing, or IT (when they are the primary need for the contingent talent) through big Staffing firm contracts leveraging a unique set of technology to enable competition and lower costs to the Employer. While the direct hire processes and use of the technology has been controlled more by HR/Recruiting, with IT being more of a “checkbox” for buying decisions in recent years when it comes to cloud computing based solutions. The shift of the workforce to contingent, will start to drive convergence of processes between purchasing, HR, and IT. I predict that more strategic organizations will be looking for new ways to engage and manage this new blended Contingent/FTE workforce throughout the employee lifecycle, and not just during the obvious recruiting/hiring and payroll cycles. The buyer(s) and storied “sphere of influence” will be different from shop to shop.
New Employee Engagement Platforms. There is an incredible amount of innovation going into both re-defining what Employee Engagement means and innovating how we address it. Engagement has been tackled in disparate systems and processes, yet measured as a single metric. It seems clear that a move to a more “end to end” view of engagement and a high performing workforce along with a shift to a more platform oriented tech approach is on the horizon. Two things may be inevitable along with that shift: 1) A direct tie from HR practices to Business Performance. This tie will be a requirement for the strategic Employer of the future; and 2) a resulting connection between Performance, Compensation, Incentives, Wellness, etc. (pretty much everything outside of Talent Management). When you start tying business performance to, where have been historically, HR metrics, the folks delivering the business performance will become more engaged with those HR metrics (pun intended). So, like the showroom floor based decisions on hiring technology and process/policy in the SMB, expect departments with the largest stakes in performance to get more involved in the HR Technology process. If you need an example look to Salesforce.com and what they’ve built around sales performance measurement with their incorporation of Rypple and what is now “work.com“.
What’s an HR Exec to do?
I think this shift might be one of the best things to happen to an HR Exec that is involved in driving HR Technology decisions in a long time. Helping develop and redefine HR processes and policies so that they are tied directly to business outcomes and performance, and measurable. That’s helping direct the future of work.
What’s an HR Tech vendor to do?
For both point-solutions and platform vendors, and for both SMB or Enterprise focused vendors, the ground will be shifting a bit. You’ll need to have a good handle on ALL of the buyers and influencers in any given sale. You’ll need to to understand their personas, and have your messaging, content, and campaigns all targeting the right people at the right stage of the buying decision. You’ll need sales people that can handle content selling, and not just farmers, hunters, or challengers.