Blog Post

Q&A with Steve Boese: How Mobile Consumers Are Driving the Future of HR Technology

Cornerstone Editors

We do so much of our jobs on mobile devices, is it possible that one day soon we'll complete our job training, fill out expense forms or even land a new position using our phones or tablets alone? Absolutely, says Steve Boese, cochairman of the HR Technology Conference. Similar forces that have morphed consumer-oriented technology into critical business tools are driving employee expectations that their HR technology be equally simple and efficient.

What are some exciting ways companies are using HR tech on mobile devices?

Some companies have replaced the traditional time clock — where people once swiped a badge or punched a time clock. Now there are solutions that mount tablets to the retail store or factory, and instead of putting in a code or swiping an ID, they can hold up their own picture, scan a QR code, or stand in front of the tablet and the tablet recognizes their face and lets them clock in or clock out that way.

How else is HR tech evolving in the mobile era?

I see three changes. One, we’re going to see more mobile-first development or mobile-only applications for HR. In our consumer lives, we’re already completely interacting with applications like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Yelp via mobile devices. That’s not the case yet with HR technology. Eventually we’re going to see a mobile-only recruiting application to post jobs and apply for jobs only — and perhaps we’ll see the same for learning and time and attendance.

Two, we're going to see a more simplified employee experience on mobile and tablet devices. Applications will be slimmer and more targeted. Today's self-service HR applications often support three dozen transactions, but the reality is that three or four of them are the most important. We’ll see applications that only do one or two things, and they will cover 90 percent of the use cases.

Lastly, we will see more HR applications that start out as consumer-based. File-sharing services such as Dropbox, Box or Evernote were originally designed to appeal to individuals and grew inside the enterprise because employees were already using them in their personal lives. We’ll see more HR-type applications that small project teams are able to demo on their own rather than wait for the centralized IT department to roll them out.

Let's talk more about the recruiting process.

People are searching for jobs on mobile, and companies are slowly starting to take up mobile recruiting with only 20 percent of Fortune 500 companies having a mobile-optimized career site. In the next five years, that number will triple because the market demands it. I was talking to someone at a global Fortune 500 company that has a big presence in China. She told me that 80 percent of the company's information about jobs and candidates in China comes via mobile. The only way to support those candidates is to provide them with mobile application.

How is the shift from off-the-shelf HR technology to subscription-based, cloud services shaking up HR tech?

Companies that sell software-as-a-service (SaaS) have disrupted incumbent and legacy vendors like SAP and Oracle. With a monthly subscription model, companies don’t have a sunk investment cost of up to $20 million that they’re trying to recover. Also, software-as-a-service solutions aren’t highly customized, so you’re able to pivot much more quickly to another solution because you’re not bogged down to customized code. If you’re using Cornerstone, Taleo or Workday for three years on a service contract, it’s still not easy to switch to something else, but it’s easier to switch than it used to be. Still, SaaS providers have made it easier to be disrupted themselves. Because the replacement costs have come down, the challenge is on this new set of vendors to continue to innovate and serve their customers well.

Photo: Can Stock

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