Study: Core HR is Moving to the Cloud

In the early days of the Cloud, some predicted that while certain HR functions — talent acquisition, for example — would be well-suited for the medium, security concerns and the desire for customization (especially among large companies) meant that core HR functions would continue to reside in on-premise solutions. That’s turned out not to be the case, as evidenced by PwC’s latest Annual HR Technology Survey, which finds that 44 percent of organizatiCloud illustrationons have moved their core HR functions to the Cloud (aka Software as a Service) and an additional 30 percent plan to do so within the next one to three years.

“Moving HR to the Cloud is a question of when, not if,” says Dan Staley, a PwC principal who leads the HR technology practice.

For many organizations, however, the move has included some turbulence: More than half of the 650 companies surveyed say their organization’s “lack of readiness to give up customization and embrace the SaaS mindset” was a major stumbling block during implementation.

“Letting go of customization causes some angst for companies — they think they can do everything that they could do with their old, customized on-premise software but then find out they can’t,” says Staley.

The comparatively rapid pace of SaaS updates — patches that are released every month, new releases every six months — also takes some getting used to for organizations accustomed to on-premise updates that took place every three to four years, he says.

The study also finds that although transitioning to the Cloud makes it easier organizations to deploy mobile solutions — primarily because many Cloud vendors offer robust mobile apps to go along with their products, says Staley — many companies are failing to realize mobile’s full HR potential. For example, although 59 percent of respondents say it would be beneficial for managers and employees to use their mobile devices for performance feedback, only 18 percent of companies actually use mobile for their performance-management processes.

“Mobile is being more widely used, but organizations have got to take a ‘why not mobile’ approach to most of what they do — the capabilities are there, but they have to deploy it,” says Staley. “It hasn’t happened as quickly as it needs to.”

HR departments have moved relatively quickly in embracing mobile, he says. Two years ago, only 30 percent of survey respondents said they utilized mobile for HR-related tasks; this year’s survey finds that 70 percent do. Still, says Staley, much of that includes transactional work such as workflow and timesheet approval.

Companies have also failed to devote the necessary resources for taking full advantage of data analytics — even though they consistently say it’s very important to them, says Staley.

“I’m a little surprised — organizations prioritize analytics, but we found that 52 percent don’t have a dedicated HR analytics team and 44 percent don’t have an HR analytics strategy,” he says. “They desperately want the insights from predictive analytics but aren’t doing what they need to do to get there.”