Consumerization of B2B software is shaping up to be one of the most disruptive trends in the HR Technology marketplace.  This trend presents itself in the HR Tech world as “employee centric” software.  From my view, this isn’t about just putting HR in the hands of the employee – that sounds like self-service to me.   It’s about leveraging technology and capabilities available today that engage the users outside of HR, not just for an HR transaction, but on an ongoing basis.  These users could be:  employees, candidates, line managers, contractors, consultants, etc.

The opportunity is emerging for HR to start becoming the business of how work gets done.  To become the stewards of the organization, not the process traffic cops.  Employee centric software is emerging as the enabling infrastructure for this change.

B2B tech trends like “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) and Mobile First Development have workplace customers and users expecting the software they work with at the office to look, feel, and be as intuitive and easy to use as the software and apps they use at home on their tablets, mobile devices, PCs and Macs.

What benefit does employee-centric software deliver for HR and the Enterprise?

By engaging employees in the process, and really giving them control, HR stops being the process traffic cop and starts to be the internal advisor based on usage and metrics coming out of the systems, applying their expertise where needed.

The result, for example, is the difference between a hiring manager logging into an HR system to just open a job requisition vs. leveraging a system to see who on his/her team has skills for an upcoming project and comparing that to the available external network of talent attached to his/her team members.  Then being advised by HR on how to structure the team moving forward, and help in sourcing and selecting the candidates.

It’s the difference between an employee taking an annual satisfaction/engagement survey vs. being pulsed for feedback on an ongoing basis, given the attributes they have or behavior they demonstrate using other systems.  Then HR advising the department head that they seem to have some flight risks on their team, and might look at some of the anonymous feedback.

It’s the contrast between candidates having as much data on the hiring manager as the manager has on them via social profiles, network connections, and information on the web that are embraced and leveraged by the hiring company, giving recruiters leverage and boosting the employer brand, vs. a flat corporate branded job-site with a “what it’s like to work here” page.

It’s personalized career development in the hands of the employee, with visibility to learning and mentor/mentee programs, giving HR incredible input and foresight for organizational changes or succession plans vs. a path to employees provided by HR via system “cookie crumbs” derived from a performance review.  Just examples.  I could go on and on.

Two issues stand out that have historically impacted the usability and adoption of HR Software:

  • Compliance and risk-aversion driven software solutions:  Compliance and risk-aversion have been the driving force behind most HR Software purchases.  In order to manage compliance and risk, you need strict process adherence and data.  To manage data you have to collect it.  The collection of data, until relatively recently, involved managing disparate sole-purpose systems, tons of manual data entry, complicated data integration, and even paper scanning operations.  This doesn’t make for a great user experience, but it did automate processes and make things happen faster.
  • Timing of available technologies and approaches:  Responsive design, html 5.0, and current leading UX and UI design technologies and approaches just didn’t exist when most of the legacy software in the market was developed.  Enterprise software developers took what, at the time, were leading user interface concepts and applied them to the web.  The minute they released it, it fell behind user expectations, given how fast things are moving.

What creates the opportunity to develop more Employee-centric solutions?

Along with the tech trends like BYOD and Mobile First, there have been rapid advancements in UX and UI design capabilities.  “Back-end” technologies have advanced just as quickly, impacting everything from database management to system performance to data visualization to integration to scale, security, and privacy.

The movement to Employee-centric is under way now, albeit at early stages.    It’s a natural evolution, when you consider the advancements in technology.  During each technology cycle HR Tech, via existing or new vendors, have provided incrementally better user experience.  However, most of the advancements have been focused on delivering a value proposition for the “company” not the Employee, Candidate, or non-traditional HR user.

We’re developing a list of Employee-Centric HR Software across several categories for release in the next week.  I’d love to know who you see delivering on this trend.  Let us know in the comments.