HR Tech in 2016: a review

With 2016 drawing to a close, it’s time to take a quick look back at the year in HR technology and highlight a small selection of the headlines…

The HR tech market got bigger!

Possibly the event of the year is the annual HR Technology Conference & Exposition, held in Chicago in October. Alongside the numerous sessions, workshops and exhibitors came the news that the HR technology market is now worth approximately $8.5 billion (the amount employers now spend on HR tech per year). Another indicator of a healthy market is the $2.4 billion invested in acquisitions of HR tech companies and software development. At a time when economies round the globe remain uncertain, the apparent health of the HR technology market bodes well for new investment and new products in the year to come.

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Ignore people at your own risk

Given the inclusion of “human” in the phrase human resources, you would imagine the people factor to be at the heart of all HR tech design. However, there is no shortage of substandard user experiences out there which might argue otherwise. In this context, research commissioned by Ultimate Software this year asked employees for their number one ‘happiness factor’ at work. A clear 55% answered, “the people philosophy”. In other words, classic corporate culture items such as vision and values, while no doubt important, don’t influence employee satisfaction as much as how they feel the organization treats them. Hopefully, this is a much-needed signpost for some tech developers.

AI – the shift from processes to decisions?

Technology-wise, the world has progressed from simple automation to smart design and the likely next stop is machine learning and artificial intelligence as projects like Muze and DeepDream explore machine imagination… Artificially intelligent HRMS is not here yet, and probably we won’t see it for a while, but it is coming. One early sign is the Mya recruitment assistant, a programmed (and customizable) interactive helper for job applicants. Mya helps candidates through the application process, automating up to 75% of the qualifying stage for vacancies, and communicating via chat, Facebook, Skype or email.  

Roaming around…

We all know that office-based working is slowly becoming a thing of the past. In 2016 the percentage of mobile employees in the global workforce exceeded 38%. That figure is set to increase to 42+% in the next five years. According to a recent report, globalization + technology = more mobile professionals. The implications for HR technology are clear: a mobile app is no longer a nice-to-have add-on to a vendor’s product, it should be at the heart of the design, offering a full version of the application, accessible anytime, anywhere.

And finally…

There was the recent $26.2 billion purchase of LinkedIn by Microsoft. Although neither LinkedIn or Microsoft produce HR tech (though given Microsoft’s investment in CRM and ERP can HRMS be far off?) let’s remember that LinkedIn is THE social media platform for business and is increasingly important to a range of HR activities, especially with various recruitment apps, such as applicant tracking, that already integrate with LinkedIn. Who knows where next, but it’s safe to say that Microsoft didn’t decide to buy without some ideas for further development and wherever LinkedIn goes, HR will follow.

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Dave Foxall

About the author…

Dave has worked as HR Manager for the Ministry of Justice for a number of years, he now writes on a broad range of topics including jazz music, and, of course, the HRMS software market.

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Dave Foxall