I suspect that for many, the findings from the latest annual Sierra-Cedar survey (ongoing since 1987) will come as no surprise. HR software delivered ‘in the Cloud’ as Software as a Service, has reached the tipping point. Of the companies participating in the survey, over 50% had already purchased SaaS HR solutions.

It’s not just the big enterprise that think that way, Google the phrase ‘HR Software’ and you’ll be hard pressed to find any companies taking the in-house route. The arguments for Cloud solutions – for companies of every size – appear to have become just too compelling.

the cloud The focus now is on who can benefit from the software – and how easy it is to use. Thanks to 24/7 availability, secure employee self-service and automation, HR are able to move from a largely administrative role to one that is focused on service delivery. The latest online HR systems are saving them time, and helping them deliver more of what line managers, employees and the whole business needs.

Thanks to Cloud efficiency, costs have come down dramatically. Sophisticated HR systems that were once only affordable to companies with deep pockets can now be “subscribed” to for just a few pounds per employee per month, making them cost-effective for even the smallest of companies.

An even bigger change has been the adoption of mobile. The iPhone is less than a decade old, but today smart phones and tablets are everywhere. According to a recent survey by Ofcom, two thirds of the UK population have smartphones, and they’ve overtaken laptops as the most popular device for getting online. Over half the UK population already use tablets (and, if you are considering your next-generation workers, one in three children aged 5-15 have their own device).


The distinctive gap between ‘work’ and ‘life’ is quickly closing. Research suggests that more than half of us use personal devices for work purposes and findings from Capgemini Consulting suggests that being able to use your own device for work improves employee satisfaction and productivity. We expect to be able to update our HR records, request holidays or complete performance reviews on line at a time that suits us.

Having found a 90% increase in mobile adoption for HR-related applications from last year – and another 65% growth forecasted for next year, Sierra-Cedar concludes that “mobile is now a standard tool by which organisations do business”.

For the companies developing HR software, that’s meant making their systems either native or ‘responsive’. For example, data entry screens that work well on a PC or laptop are unworkable on tablets or mobiles. With responsive design, the software automatically adjusts the screen fit the space in the best way, so can cover the widest range of shapes and sizes.

There is also a growing debate about the role of wearable technology – much of it concerned with the legal and data protection aspects. For sure, there are useful business applications, not least in encouraging a greater focus on personal fitness, but employers will have to tread carefully.

What do you think 2016 holds for HR tech?

Sue Lingard author image

Sue Lingard

Sue studied Personnel Management at the London School of Economics before taking on management roles in the travel, recruitment and finally HR software industry. She's particularly interested in how technologies enable HR teams - and the people they support - to work better together.