1. A Massive Shift From “Automation” To “Productivity.”

For many years the focus on HR technology was to automate and integrate HR practices. This meant online payroll, record-keeping, learning management, resume capture, interview and hiring, assessment, performance appraisals, compensation, management, resume capture, interview and hiring, assessment, performance appraisals, compensation, etc.

Well all that’s important, but it’s just “business as usual” now. A wide range of cloud-based HRMS and payroll vendors are now in the market, and you get very little credit for “automating” HR. (You do get penalized if you don’t of course).

But beyond automation, the big topic in business today is productivity. We are now working on agile, team-centric organizations, and we are overwhelmed with too much to do. Burnout, focus, and employee engagement are all issues, and we are now dealing with email, messaging from many different systems, and a plethora of communication tools that overwhelm most of us. Can we build HR software that really improves productivity and helps teams work better together? That’s the next challenge.

2. Acceleration Of HRMS And HCM Cloud Solutions, But Not The Center Of Everything

In the last five years, cloud-based HR has become the rage. The question for most companies is no longer “if” you go to the cloud, but rather “when” and “how.”

Well it’s harder than it looks. Despite these rapidly maturing solutions, only about 40% of companies today use cloud HCM solutions, and my experience with large companies is that the migration often takes 2-3 years or longer. (There is a lot of customized HR software out there.) So we are going to be “moving to the cloud” for a while yet, and the decision of which vendor to select looms large. In fact most companies ponder their vendor decision for months (or years), and feel the decision will have radical impact on their entire employee population.

Despite strong marketing from the HCM companies, this worry is misplaced. While the cloud HR and payroll system is a critical system for any business, it can be replaced. And the more important technology you buy is the talent and team management software. So your architecture looks more like a “set of services” all focused on making employees’ lives easier… not a single cloud vendor.

3. Continuous Performance Management Is Here: And You Should Get With It

Continuous performance management is possible, it works, and it can transform your company. We are not talking about doing away with ratings, rather we are talking about building a new, ongoing process for goal setting, coaching, evaluation, and feedback.

4. Feedback, Engagement, And Analytics Tools Reign

Only a few years ago the engagement survey market was a robust but sleeply place. Today it has become a dynamic world of real-time survey systems, sentiment analysis software, organizational network analysis (ONA) tools, and products that actually automatically ask your peers for feedback to give you real-time coaching.

And open feedback tools are growing again, giving employees many new places to comment on the workplace. A new area of growth is the explosion of systems to offer pay transparency and are now crowdsourcing and providing benchmarking tools to help you “find your worth” (a phrase Glassdoor coined) through open feedback and benchmarking.

This explosion of transparency has been very healthy for business, and it has spawned a new set of pulse surveys, AI-based analysis and recommendation systems, and culture assessments throughout the marketplace. You can get this technology from startups, ERP vendors, talent management systems, and embedded in the new performance management systems. Companies have to think about this as an overall architecture, but this is still a new world.

5. Reinvention Of Corporate Learning Is Here

A new breed of corporate learning tools has finally arrived, and companies are snapping them up quickly.

These include the “experience platforms,” a new breed of “micro-learning platforms,” modernized LMS systems, and new AI-based systems to recommend learning, find learning, and deliver learning. Virtual Reality-based learning is now alive and well, and you can expect to see smarter and smarter technologies to help us find “just what we need” along the lines of performance support. And you can now buy systems that let employees publish and share content without any major effort on your part.

6. The Recruiting Market Is Thriving With Innovation

Recruitment is the largest marketplace in HR. Companies spend billions each year on recruiting and it has become an escalating war for employment brand, candidates, candidate experience, and strategic sourcing. High volume recruitment (hospitality, services, healthcare, retail) is being automated by chatbots and other new tools; skilled job recruitment is being revolutionized by open sourcing tools, more automated applicant tracking systems (now called recruitment management systems), and better assessments. And video assessment and culture assessment tools have matured so far that everyone can use them.

7. The Wellbeing Market Is Exploding

HR technology, content, and tools for wellbeing may likely be the next “big thing” in business. Not only do we need tools to improve productivity and reduce cognitive overload, but we also need “nudges” and data to help us exercise, stay mindful, and learn how to sleep and eat better.

8. People Analytics Matures And Grows

Employee-related data (and all the aspects it includes) is just as important or more important than customer data, because it tells you the secrets of how to manage your business better.

The marketplace is now rich with embedded solutions (nearly every HCM vendor has embedded analytics, many with prediction engines), and all the new vendors are starting to apply AI to their offerings. While this market has been very long in coming, the growth of cloud platforms is now making it explode, and it’s easier than ever to build a manager-level dashboard that helps your teams understand what they can do to make the work experience better.

9. Intelligent Self-Service Tools

If you’re a software person, you have to ask the question: how do we bring all this “stuff” together into a seamless employee experience to make work better? Do we build apps? Do we upgrade our employee portal? Do we hope AI and conversational systems will sit on top of everything? It’s quite a complicated issue.

In today’s HR technology environment perhaps the most important new market is the fast-growing need for self-service, employee experience platforms. These are fast-changing systems that bring case management, document management, employee communications, and help-desk interactions into one integrated architecture. They sit between employee apps and back end applications, and they serve as the lifeblood of your employee service centers (which are going to be more automated every day).

10. Innovation Within HR Itself

The tenth disruption is the incredibly rapid growth in innovation projects within HR teams. HR professionals are now becoming the disruptors. It used to be we waited for tech companies to invent things – then HR figured out how to use them and bought them. Now HR departments are experimenting with new performance management models, new learning strategies, new ways to reduce bias, and new techniques to recruit and coach people. Then they go into the market and see if vendors are available. This shift to me is a disruption itself – forcing the HR technology community to move even faster than ever.