I have seen HR technology evolve at an increasingly rapid pace over the past few years, with the current generation of portals designed to deliver a more employee-focused experience, and provide access to valuable data that allows HR to operate more strategically.
However, the business benefits of using this new technology are countered by many challenges; how to ensure that all HR and employee benefits systems are fully integrated how to make an employee-centric system deliver on enrolment quotas, and importantly, how to ensure that employees engage with the new system.
As organisations continue to increase their spend on benefits technology – according to the latest Employee Benefits News (EBN) technology survey 41% are planning to do so in the next year - they are also focusing on their priorities for what they want it to achieve.
Better benefits enrolment and communication technology is critical, more so than cost and benefits offerings, according to the EBN data. Enrolment systems need to be improved, said 39%, as do benefits administration tools, said 30.9%. Just under a third (32.7%) wants to be able to offer a better employee benefits portal.
Another trend that I am following closely is the demand for these user-friendly interfaces to be optimised for access through mobile devices, as more employees work flexible, remotely and from their tablets and smartphones. People want to access their employee benefits and other personal information quickly and easily from wherever they happen to be working.
In fact, a key focus is on implementing systems that can provide an exceptional user experience that gives employees access to their benefits information from virtually any global location.
This is the norm for consumer software applications, but most of the enterprise software has been lagging behind. I am proud that we’ve designed our software Darwin™ as consumer-grade software and put the users at the centre of everything we do. And while Darwin™ has been mobile enabled globally for quite some time we are “cooking up” something special behind the scenes that will change how employees interact with their benefit spending accounts around the world (watch for the announcement early 2015).
In spite of cost reductions in other areas of HR, technology spending remains steady and strong. Clearly, organisations are now scrutinising their HR functions and the way that their HR services are being delivered, and concluding that the time is right for change. For a growing number, bringing about these changes via the implementation of new technology will present opportunities for HR to make an even more strategic contribution to the business.
Most notable in this embrace of change is that organisations are also demonstrating a willingness to not only invest in new technology, but also in delivery partners who can ensure their HR and benefits systems achieve all their business and talent management objectives and deliver maximum return on their investment.