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Until recently, HR databases were a static list of names, dates, roles and benefits. CIOs didn't think to invest in newer or better talent management technology, in part because business leaders weren't thinking about talent management strategy.

But the "war for talent," as coined in the late 90s by McKinsey and Company, shifted the role (and perceived value) of human resources. As the work landscape becomes increasingly competitive—largely due to demographic shifts—talent management must become increasingly strategic. And the main foundation for this strategy? Data.

Talent management is no longer solely a question of tracking employees; it's also a matter of tracking candidates. As workforce analytics matures to include more data and produce better insights, organizations' needs can no longer be filled by spreadsheets and legacy applications. In order to truly be strategic, businesses needs talent management technology with a wide range of capabilities.

Enter the cloud. The changing landscape of talent management, and the subsequent requirements for HR technology, is ripe for cloud-based applications—here's why.

IT as a Strategic Business Arm

It's no secret that cloud computing offers significant IT advantages in terms of time and cost saved. Business units get access to applications faster. The finance department can budget the cost as an ongoing operating expense rather than a vague capital expense. And because the application is hosted, IT can replace time-consuming maintenance tasks with strategic thinking.

The elements of "tracking" talent are becoming more and more sophisticated—from just tracking salary and vacation days to tracking training, performance, reviews and more—and the less IT can focus on fixing bugs, the more they can work with HR to analyze data for smarter business decisions.

Flexibility at a Fraction of the Cost

A cloud-based talent management system allows organizations to leapfrog into the latest systems and quickly justify the cost for the company—potentially at a fraction of the cost of other options. Updates can happen almost instantaneously, and organizations can take advantage of migrating to the cloud in a highly flexible manner: A recent Bersin by Deloitte report found that 26.5 percent of respondents planned to move all their HR technology to the cloud, whereas 18 percent planned to move only talent management or workforce management to the cloud and another 21 percent planned to use a different combination of licensed and cloud solutions.

A Secure Solution

Security is crucial with any technology, but particularly when it comes to talent management. After all, IT is tasked with safeguarding employees' vital personal data—from home addresses to salary to Social Security numbers. With such valuable information at stake, it makes sense for IT to delegate security activities to a reliable cloud vendor, whose security must meet the standards of its most-demanding clients.

The cloud not only provides a richer path to finding candidates and evaluating current employees, but also reduces the burden of technology deployments—ultimately, a win-win for any organization.

Interested in learning about more of the benefits of cloud-based talent management? Check out our new whitepaper, "Why the Cloud Makes Sense for Talent Management".