At Ultimate Software’s Connections 2016, there was evidence of real-world applications to address what Brandon Hall Group sees as the 3 top workforce management trends.

For the last year there have been three trends in workforce management that we here at Brandon Hall Group have been researching, tracking, and writing about:

hcm strategies

  1. The link between technology and engagement
  2. The greater adoption and understanding of people analytics
  3. The democratization of data

Last week, I attended Connections 2016, an Ultimate Software event, and was pleased to note that not only are these messages being heard, but that companies are responding to these trends and adopting to meet the needs of the market. Let’s take those strategic trends in order to understand the real-world applications I am seeing.

The Link between Technology and Engagement

It has been well documented that the workforce is changing in terms of remote, mobile, and contingent workers. Because of that shift and the rapid pace of technological advancement, for many workers their only link to the organization is through their devices (or more specifically through the software used for things like time tracking, payroll, training, etc.). Almost always, these technologies are not created by the company they work for but by a third party and then branded with their company logo.

So when Ultimate Software indicated that they were creating designs that were mobile first (and sometimes mobile only), and really pushing the user experience as a first-line objective (for them this means intuitive design principles, single sign-on across platforms, and rich feature lists), it shows a real reaction to market demand for creating engagement through technology.

The Changing Nature of People Analytics

As we have written about before, organizations are not struggling with analytics because of a lack of data, but instead because they are unsure what to do with that data. Although predictive analytics is an exciting area of exploration, the technology has existed for a few years but the uptake on using that technology has not kept up with its development. Ultimate Software has seen this research and noted these trends, and during sessions with their product and services teams, I learned that they are creating analytics services to help organizations make sense of their data, and apply the insights from their predictive analyses to create interventional actions.

The Democratization of Data

This refers to data being pushed to line managers and employees to allow them to make the best possible decisions on a real-time basis. Ultimate Software is not alone in providing this functionality, but it was encouraging to see the analytics products give the ability for managers to dive deeper into the data provided to understand the different inputs and data sources, helping the managers understand the “why” of the metrics and recommendations being created for them by the data.

As Brandon Hall Group has uncovered in recent research, the HCM market is poised to begin a period of increased spending. For those HR professionals that are looking to upgrade or procure technology to help them meet their business’ needs, keep in mind not just the broad trends and priorities for the coming years, but also the practical application of those trends in ways that meet your requirements.

Cliff Stevenson, Principal Analyst, Workforce Management, Brandon Hall Group