HR in the Cloud is Soaring

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HR in the cloud soaring

Guest post by Dan Staley

The phonebook, so anxiously anticipated by Navin R. Johnson in the 1979 movie The Jerk, has gone the way of the poor VCR. Extinct. Obsolete. Kaput. Take note, my HR colleagues — there may soon be something else that follows the phonebook into obsolesce: On-premise HR technology. That, and workers having to open their laptops for HR related transactions. While the on-premise delivery model for HRIS and being tethered to your laptop is still alive and kicking in many organizations, the adoption of cloud HR technology and mobile to engage the workforce and deliver important HR services is climbing at an exponential rate.

Companies Increasing the Use of Cloud in HR

I submit the following as evidence: According to PwC’s survey data from 2014, 23% of companies used SaaS (Cloud Software-as-a-Service) for core HR and another 26% said they planned to move within three years. Fast forward just one short year, to late 2015, and the number now using SaaS for core HR has climbed to 44% with an additional 30% planning to move in the next one to three years.

If history is any indication, could we really be looking at nearly 75% of organizations using cloud for their core HR when we release next year’s survey? It is hard to know given the longer implementation timelines for the larger, global organizations that are now launching cloud HR migrations, but I suspect there will be a significant increase in the use of cloud HR next year. As you can see, the days of on-premise HR appear to be numbered, in favor of a much more innovative way to consume HR technology.

How About Mobile?

As for mobile, there has been a significant increase in deployment in just a few short years. In 2013, only 30% of companies leveraged mobile for something HR related. Today, we’ve climbed to a whopping 70%.

While mobile may not be appropriate for every type of HR transaction, organizations need to be more swift in giving their internal customers what they want. Even with the vastly increased mobile usage, we still see some large gaps between what managers want on mobile versus the capabilities deployed to them. For example, nearly 60% of managers would like to capture in-the-moment performance feedback on their mobile device, yet only 18% are given the tools to do so.

This year’s HR Tech Survey also indicated a 30 percentage point “need vs. capability gap” when it came to easily viewing HR analytics and dashboards on the mobile. The way we work is changing and with Millennials making up the largest generation in the U.S. workforce (and Generation Z quickly on the way), more and more companies are taking a “mobile first” strategy.

These trends are just a taste of what is included in this year’s survey. And insights such as these are the primary reason that PwC creates the HR technology survey each year. We seek to understand HR’s priorities, how organizations are leveraging technology to meet workforce challenges, how HRIS investments are paying off and where are they falling short. We explore when, why and where companies are adopting Cloud HR technology and why others are hesitant. Our hope is that the survey data and associated insights help you and your organization be better enabled to meet tomorrow’s workforce challenges so that you don’t have to go it alone.

In this year’s survey, we explore several key findings:

More than two-thirds of respondents have at least some HR applications in the cloud, and a similar number have mobile HR apps—but even greater adoption is needed in the future to meet workforce demands.

Lack of organizational readiness to give up customizations required for SaaS, the level of process transformation required, and product limitations are the key barriers to successful implementation. More than half of the respondents cited these as their greatest implementation challenges.

The HR software marketplace is fragmented, and many organizations are focused on consolidating their vendor portfolio; 40 percent of the respondents are planning to use fewer vendors moving forward. Top motivations for consolidation included easier vendor management, better support, and better integration.

Operating in a cloud environment is an adjustment; 25% say the incorporation of frequent, new releases requires additional staff to support and 36% note that new releases that bring desired enhancements often destabilize their environment.

HR Analytics is noted as a priority but it is not getting the focus it deserves; 52% do not have a dedicated HR Analytics team and nearly 40% do not have an HR Analytics strategy.

Read or download the full survey at In addition, use the Data Explorer tool to further cut the survey responses by industry, geography and company demographic. Learn what the 650 companies spanning the globe had to say about how they are currently using and planning to leverage HR technology to solve important problems. Be the first to share these exciting insights with your organization – I’m guessing the thrill will be even greater than seeing your name for the first time in the phonebook.

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