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Next Gen Strategic HR (Part II)

Where will the HR software market go? What kinds of innovation are needed to keep this space vibrant? How should we evaluate the kinds of innovation that are entering this space? (Part 2 of 2)

(See Part I of this blog here)

Here are just a few of the innovation dilemmas HR solutions providers will doubtlessly face over the next few years. I've got lots more but these few should give you a few headaches:

1)      All new competitors from all new sources will disrupt the HR vendor status quo - A couple of weeks ago, Apple announced the availability of an apps store for businesses. Now, small, nimble software developers from all over the world can easily build HR apps for mainstream large enterprise use. Apple has over 200,000 developers in its ecosystem. Salesforce.com has over 300,000 developers. And, don't forget the rapidly growing Android developer marketplace. Anyone of these ecosystems dwarfs the development teams of almost every HR or ERP vendor on the planet. Will your firm's next HR app come from one of these ecosystems?

2)      Is that BYOT device secure? Today's new workers are part of the BYOT/BYOD (bring your own technology/device) generation. They don't want your grandpa's desktop computer. They don't want an 8-lb. laptop with its 1-lb. power supply. They don't even want your corporate standard Blackberry. What they want is for your IT department to serve up data and apps on their own iPhone, iPad or other smart mobile device. Your firm has some real challenges with this as you don't know if your IT group can support these devices. You don't know if any of these devices have be jailbroken or rootkitted. You don't know if anything that's on or passes through that device is secure. You may already be in trouble.

3)      Should we use this capability? A whole new generation of technologies is coming into the mainstream and HR users and solution developers have some tough decisions to make. For example, just because you can mine and triangulate incredible amounts of information over the Internet about an applicant, should you? Could your usage of this information be potentially discriminatory if the information indicated an applicant's sexual orientation, race, religion, etc.?  Facial recognition software and other technologies could also be problematic in some situations. The HR industry needs a crash program to understand ALL of the potential ethical and legal issues the new technologies bring.

4)      Are Sovereign Risks being adequately studied and dealt with? Anyone considering an outsourced, hosted or cloud HR solution should be all over this issue. But, this is an issue that just keeps giving and giving. Businesses need to control where their data resides. This is important if they don't want, for example, the prying eyes, subpoenas or tax liabilities of different governments coming to their business. A data center could establish enough of a reason to let a government gain access to all kinds of business, financial, employee, etc. records. Cloud solutions that are less than transparent about where company data resides could present problems for businesses. Cloud providers that unilaterally move data to other jurisdictions or countries could expose their customer to litigation risk for sending personal data across state/country boundaries.

5)      Whose social network is this anyway? Employees that can't even access Facebook or LinkedIn at work are being asked to open up their networks to their employer's HR and CRM systems.  In one especially egregious situation, employees were required to provide password access to their Facebook account to their employer. Are an applicant's contacts, friends, etc. their own? Who owns the contacts once an employee leaves the firm? Can employers really constrain the content an employee posts about their employer on their own web site, their online resume, their social networks, etc.?