In HR tech, Asia can lead the way: PageUp People
By Gabey Goh August 26, 2013
- Asian companies are proactive in using technology for HR practices
- Adoption of big data analytics in HR remains at early stage for the region
ASIA Pacific has an opportunity to lead and create future best practices in the deployment of technology tools for human resources (HR) management.
“Best practices don’t necessarily all need to come from the West; there is a great opportunity for practices that are being developed in the East to lead the world in terms of evolving how HR contributes to better business outcomes,” said Karen Cariss, chief executive officer at Pageup People.
In an email interview with Digital News Asia (DNA), Cariss (pic) shared her thoughts on the state of HR technology across the region, noting that the talent management solutions provider is seeing a lot of movement towards using technology for their HR practice.
She said that most already have in place a standard Human Resource Information System (HRIS) and increasingly the industry is seeing an adoption of technology solutions to underpin strategic HR activities, such as recruitment, succession management, performance and development.
“At this stage, we see typically point solutions in place, rather than a unified solution whereby all areas are either seamlessly integrated or there is one platform. That will come, but in the meantime, Asian companies in general do see the productivity benefits of using HR technology,” she added.
According to a blog post on Forbes, the global HR technology market is currently estimated to be worth over US$14 billion, with another report posted on Blogging4Jobs stating that companies are expected to spend upwards of US$8.1 billion in 2015 on HR technologies.
Despite the positive outlook of corporations in investing in HR technologies, challenges still remain for Asian companies seeking to leverage on its advantages.
Cariss outlined two key challenges currently faced by corporations:
- Having technology that is flexible enough to support the nuances required to accommodate each of the regions across Asia Pacific in one system and;
- For the HR practitioners to have access to a strong local network of people to support them in continual improvement of their practices, and aligning the technology to support the ever-evolving practices.
“We have found through working with customers across the region, that it is very important to be able to understand how each region needs to tailor its approach in order to have strong engagement with the technology that HR is deploying.
“We have worked with our customers to accommodate the level of flexibility required to help overcome this challenge, which is why you need strong local support to really get a deep understanding of the fine-tuning required by region,” she added.
When asked about how important aspects such as User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) design are in formulating solutions that are easily adopted by staff outside IT departments with varying degrees of tech savvy, Cariss said it was “critical.”
This is because prevalence of social and consumer technologies have set the benchmark of how people interact with technology, both on a personal level and professional level.
“Additionally, HR technology is really business technology. To be effective, it needs to be used by all people across a business to manage performance, to develop your people, or to move your people into new roles.
“Technology of this nature needs to be deployed with zero training – people don’t get trained on how to use Facebook or LinkedIn; in a similar fashion, they shouldn’t need to be trained on how to use your people management technologies. The UI/ UX design is critical in achieving a zero-training company-wide deployment,” she said.
Asia's readiness for big data analytics; future trends
One of the key trends in HR technology is centred on the role big data analytics can play in providing actionable talent intelligence for practitioners.
With the right information obtained from the mass of data available, companies can quantify the impact HR has on business performance, identify critical skills gaps, and develop people strategies to meet the needs of the company.
Cariss noted that big data and analytics is the most potent way to transform HR from a tactical to a truly strategic business partner.
“The great thing about analytics is that it taps into the network of existing data that is already accessible. It has the power to transform volumes of data into meaningful information that can be used to drive key business decisions,” she said.
She added that globally, organisations are just beginning to realise the opportunities of using big data and analytics for people management, for example in workforce capability forecast and mobility management to name just two areas.
However Asia is at the very early stage of adoption in relation to analytics and big data for the management of people.
One of the key considerations for any company starting this journey, said Cariss, is to establish the capabilities in a manner that enables them to be very responsive. A rapid, iterative process is required to establish the analytics that are going to be useful to the business.
“This is a journey, not a destination. HR will find that as they start providing more people data to the business that the business will refine and evolve the questions that are important to their operations and the HR analytics team needs to be able to responsive to the new requests,” she added.
In line with increasing interest in HR solutions and the need to cater for a more dynamic and fragmented talent management landscape, PageUp People recently launched a fresh slew of products in its portfolio.
Aimed at meeting the needs of large corporations, the more notable additions include mobile-based recruitment solution Apply Anywhere and a Candidate Relationship Management (CRM) module to enable organisations to engage job seekers and nurture these relationships in order to cultivate a ready talent pipeline.
Cariss claimed that feedback for both new solutions has been “extremely positive.”
“The mobile enhancements are enabling clients to reach greater numbers of their current and prospective workforce via phones and tablets. The Candidate Relationship Management solutions are enabling clients to save millions of dollars by effectively managing talent pools, enabling more roles to be filled from their own talent pools rather than spending significant fees on recruitment agencies,” she said.
The company also recently announced the details of its Contingent Management upgrade, which offers clients the capability to recruit and manage their growing contractor base more easily.
Key features include enhanced functionality that allows contractors to complete timesheets, and managers to approve them, on their mobile devices along with a single dashboard enabling informed business decisions to maximise cost efficiencies and quality of contractor engagements.
“The enhancements to our Contractor Management solution were designed to address two rapidly growing workforce management trends: The increased reliance on contract labour; and the ever-expanding use of mobile devices for key work functions,” Bryce Dunn, senior vice president of product management at PageUp People, said in a statement announcing the upgrade.
Meanwhile, Cariss said that in the next six to 12 months; PageUp People will continue to build mobile interfaces to more areas of the platform.
“We are also building a lot more social elements into the solution suite, which we really see driving more daily engagement with HR technology. Advanced analytics and incorporation of big data is also a significant feature on our roadmap.
"The exciting news about HR technology is that it is evolving at such a rapid rate, so we are always building new functionality in line with the rapid evolution,” she said.
The company’s moves are in tandem with emerging trends Cariss sees in the space over the coming months.
In her view, the use of mobile, social and UI/ UX elements to drive engagement are going to be dominant HR technology requirements in the next 12 months, while analytics and big data will continue to evolve and become more dominant in the 12-36 month period.
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