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How to find the best HR IT needle in the tech haystack

With so many HR apps and other IT solutions on offer, just how can you find the best one for you?

Three years ago, in this very section of HR magazine, I wrote an article giving some straightforward advice to help anyone whose head was spinning from the vast range of tech solutions on offer. I hope they were useful, because if anything things have got even more complicated since 2017.

The number of new entrants to the HR tech marketplace has increased massively. My own estimate is that there are now at least 1,000 new entrants to this sector alone every year, many of them backed by major investors, and all trying to get a share of HR IT budgets, from complete multi-role solutions to single apps.

The problem is visibility. How can you possibly keep track of a thousand new entrants to the HR marketplace? Because somewhere among them might well be the solution you’ve been waiting for - be it a new health and wellbeing app or a whole new reward and recognition system.

The traditional route has often been the exhibition. With dozens of suppliers, seminars and workshops, they have - and still are - useful ways to gain an insight into both the latest technology and the latest thinking. And you get an opportunity to network with like minded colleagues, share stories and talk shop.

But you’re only ever going to see the tip of the tech iceberg. In other words: those with the backing to be able to afford a presence at the exhibition, or major established players.

The disruptors - the new and exciting products from smaller start-ups- have a much harder time presenting their offerings. Even though those might be just what you’ve been waiting for, the chances of them gaining any visibility at all, let alone an opportunity to demonstrate just what they can do to transform your working life, are, in many cases, practically zero.

It’s not just about having a level playing field either. You also need to be able to trust the independence of the source presenting these new solutions. At an exhibition, money can build you an attractive and eye catching stand right at the centre of the event. But the best app might well be found at a far simpler stand tucked away at the back of the hall. So just how can you find what you need in this vast and complex arena of HR IT?

It won’t surprise you to find out that we think we have an answer, and one which addresses the key issue of a level playing field. For many years we’ve built a reputation as an independent HRIS consultancy. Therefore our interest is in helping you find the right solution.

Our answer to finding that solution is both independent and also allows those small start-ups to pitch alongside the established players. It’s called HRTech247.com. Of course we think it’s a great idea, and no doubt others will try to copy it, but we believe our reputation for independence gives us an edge which is impossible to replicate.

The HR tech marketplace is never going to be an easy one to navigate. Those start-ups are going to continue to generate exciting new ideas - and HR itself is going to continue to need what they have to offer, be it payroll systems or data analytics.

So the requirement for an independent space which allows you to find out what’s on offer, without pressure, and genuinely have the freedom to explore the widest possible range of HR solutions has never been more important. The needles are out there. What you need is a guide to help you dig down into the haystack and pick them out. In all modesty we think we have created just that, and we’d love to know what you think.

Bob Rehill is CEO and founder of the Bob Rehill Associate Network and HRTech247.com