The COVID-19 pandemic has irrevocably changed the world and the world of work. With the COVID-19 crisis, lockdowns, and a global recession, organizations are busy reimagining the “new workplace”. And technology is a key component of that. The digital transformation initiatives that businesses have embarked on will continue for years.
While we don’t have a clear indication of when the virus will go away, organizations are trying hard to make the most of this uncertain time as we move into 2021. But one thing is for sure-employee experience is now at the center of every technology that organizations are bringing in. The rise in demand for experience management software is a testimony to this trend.
So, what are some of the key trends that will shape the demands in the HCM space as employee experience takes center stage? In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Andrew Brockhoff, President APAC of Unit4 Asia Pacific Pte Ltd, shares his views on the outlook for the HCM space in the second year of the pandemic.
What are some of the emerging trends in the HCM space in 2021 in the APAC region?
We are going to see a continuation of what we saw last year. The emerging trends are around employee experience-it matters, around employee health and wellness-a space everyone was interested in for quite a number of years but never really had a big crack at it. So I think there will continue to be a shift from that pure strategic HR conversation around pure performance management to knowing the employee pulse and figuring out what will work in a remote environment, as no one has done this ever before a 100% of their time. In addition, we will also see a continuing rise in collaboration software and engagement in the organization.
HR has different challenges now. While every CFO is aware of how they can spend less on real estate but every CHRO is very conscious about how the workforce is actually feeling. In the last few years, working from home was seen as a benefit but now it is going to be seen as a reality going forward.
How was the year 2020 for HCM players? Which technologies were in demand?
Experience management, collaboration software were in demand in 2020. But a slowdown was experienced when it came to big projects in the core HCM space. Recruiting and also onboarding technologies continued to be hot throughout 2020.
Unit4 delves into people experience- whose importance is on the rise. Workday is acquiring employee listening platform software company Peakon ApS in an all-cash deal valued at $700 million. Similarly, Qualtrics made a stunning debut on the stock market. Why do you think this rise in importance and what will be the trends around it?
It is becoming important and a key focus is to first check on employee health and wellbeing, and make sure that the team is engaged. A majority of people are working out of home for long hours and it can get quite overwhelming and lonely-hence the focus on mental health and wellness.
Also, it’s no secret that happy employees provide happy engagements with the customers. Moreover, there is going to be a trend of less global talent mobility for some time. So the importance of investing in your team is more critical than ever. Understanding your existing talent is much more efficient to do during these times. Hence the experience side of the HCM market will be hot for this period. Also going back to the talent mobility angle, HR might also want to look at previous employees and alumni management.
How do you think experience management software fare this year? Is Unit4 looking to capitalize on them?
Absolutely, we have people-focused ERP systems, along with HCM and experience management toolkits. The reason why I think it is important is because unlike other ERP systems, we focus majorly on people-centric organizations. Most of the ERPs were written 40 years ago and mainly for manufacturing companies. The reality is we need to make sure that we understand that when people are the assets, what is the sort of experience they are having and how are they doing, and how to engage them-be it in a specific project or in an organization.
What are some of the technologies enterprises will invest in this year? What do you think is going to be their big focus area?
While the focus on collaboration tools and virtualization will come, they will plateau as most of the businesses are already using them now.
Enterprises will now start to focus on how they stack up to the requirements of work in the new normal-are they on a legacy HCM or ERP still? So a lot of these companies will start work on big projects to shifting more work into the cloud, shifting from their old school ERP systems. A lot of technology will focus on removing risk, and further process on RPA, AI, and automation that reduce manual tasks and add more value.
How does Unit4’s new enterprise software solution ERPx different from its competitors?
If you look at the products of the prevailing solutions in the market, everyone’s architecture is almost 20 years old. What businesses now are looking forward to is specific purpose-built solutions for the industry, which is how we architected the ERPx, to respond to changing business needs. We focus mainly on four industries specifically-professional services organizations, public sector, not-for-profit, and higher education. Our architecture allows best practices plus flexibility to bring in the things they want to bring in for their organizations.