· 2 min read · Features

Why is HR a technology hot spot and what are the trends for 2014 and beyond?

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HR is currently regarded as one of the hottest areas in business by technology developers and, as a result, HR teams can feel like children in a sweet shop, overawed and in danger of choosing the shiniest products, just because they can.

Those of us who have been in the HR technology business for the long-haul, 10 years or more, are looking at this now crowded market and wondering what and who has staying power.

So in the spirit of the season, I've picked out a few of the more strategic and important trends to help identify the real challenges of 2014 and beyond:

Cloudier than ever

Trends don't occur in neat yearly cycles. So I make no apologies for flagging up the cloud yet again as a major influence. But why are cloud-based solutions having such an impact in the HR department?

HR was never seen as such a mainstream part of a business as say finance or marketing. So its needs were often ignored by the IT team who, in some cases, didn't really understand the specialist requirements.

Consequently, when cloud technology and software as a service (SaaS) began to gain a hold, HR departments could more easily get sign-off for what they needed, because of the lower costs and the fact that it could be turned on and off on demand.

Cloud technology will gain further momentum in 2014 as the drive to reduce recruitment overheads continues. Many of these cloud-based solutions enable in-house teams to manage and track recruitment processes themselves without employing an agency and the subsequent cost-savings are an attractive proposition.

Intelligence gathering

It's a well-known statistic that 80% of an organisation's costs are tied up with its people. However, although a business might know everything there is to know about its products or services, very few hold intelligence about staffing trends. This is despite the fact that, for the past decade, we've talked about human capital as an asset.

Increasingly businesses will want to know more about this asset. Where do their staff come from? What career track do they take? What is the profile of a high-performance employee?

The NHS is a good example of an organisation that looks set to benefit considerably from this type of data. It's often said that it spends money on training professionals who then go elsewhere to work, providing little return on investment. Yet, up until recently, it had no way of finding out where those it had trained ended up working.

This information would be highly valuable to the government to help better informed decisions on the health service and training in general. Similar information could help businesses too, especially with planning, resourcing and other key forward-looking tasks.

Consolidation and integration

As a growing number of applications become available, there's bound to be a reaction, as HR departments realise that they don't want to deal with a multitude of disparate and independent systems.

But this doesn't necessarily mean that those niche players that have become experts in their own domain will be forced out in the cold. Rather they will partner with a prime provider - so helping develop a best-of-breed solution.

Getting real about mobile and social

2014 will see practicality rather than gimmicks in the field of mobile and social media in HR. It's never going to be ideal to complete a CV or application form on a smartphone or even a tablet. In fact most of us would prefer to take our time at our laptops in the comfort of our own home rather than rush something off while on the move.

However, social media can be valuable in attracting applicants in certain sectors and texts or instant messaging are ideal for automatic acknowledgments or quickly confirming interviews. It's a question of identifying where mobile can add real value, concentrating resources on these areas and not wasting time on apps that are just for show.

I've stayed on firm ground here with my forecasts, but the impact these trends could have on the way HR teams work won't always be safe or predictable. Yet hopefully, the sector will remain a target for innovation and products that will transform HR departments for the better.

Paul Finch, managing director, Konetic