Main content

Time for HR to get our heads in the cloud

Marcus Mossberger Profile picture for user Marcus Mossberger April 11, 2016
Cloud-based HR can transform the way organizations operate, aiding collaboration and using data to inform strategy, writes Infor's Marcus Mossberger

People use ladders to work in cloud graphic © jesussanz -
The cloud. You can’t go five minutes without someone mentioning it. Even with my experience in the HCM industry, I’m still learning new things about the cloud every day. But I am not sure my HR peers recognize how important the cloud is to our profession, and the potential it has to truly transform the way we interact with our workforce.

Most of the time the benefits of the cloud are seen as tied to cost reduction and security improvement. But the potential value to HR is much more consequential.  With the colliding trends of new technology (the cloud) and new social norms (brought on by the Millennials), we as HR professionals have an opportunity to transform the world of work.

In fact that was the number one trend identified in the recently published Deloitte Human Capital Trends 2016 report – the need to address organizational design.  Indeed, as Deloitte’s HR guru Josh Bersin recently told diginomica, “The fundamental structure of organizations is under attack," with people increasingly working in cross-functional teams rather than traditional hierarchical structures.

How do we prepare companies big or small to begin this transformation?  The cloud.

It's about the data

Cloud-based HR solutions give individuals and organizations the ability to access real-time data that can then be translated and aggregated to provide prescriptive recommendations for behavioral changes.  These platforms provide access to the latest and greatest versions of the software – which Millennials fully expect (PDF) – and enable them to collaborate and share information anywhere, from any device.

Bottom line – the next generation can work the same way they live.  But it’s not just about the cloud itself … it’s the data in the cloud.

When Deloitte surveyed the HR landscape in 2014, it found that only 14% of HR departments were using data analytics. That was well behind the 77% of operations organizations, 58% of sales organizations and 56% of marketing organizations. Last year, it said people analytics remained “stuck in neutral.” In its latest report, it is finally seeing signs of HR investing in data.

HR must take a lead

Why has HR been so far behind our functional cousins? Frequently the answer is tied to the inability to unravel the collection of legacy HR systems, many of which are built on old technology that is hard to extract data.

Another likely culprit is the reluctance to ’dehumanize’ a people-oriented profession by becoming overly reliant on the data. The bottom line is that the data does not need to replace the human element, it is simply there to supplement it in order to drive subjectivity out of an already complex field and to bring an evidence-based, scientific approach to the world of work.

While HR in the cloud may be based on new digital technologies, the transformation it enables affects the entire organization and the people within it. As Deloitte says:

HR is being asked to simplify its processes, help employees manage the flood of information at work, and build a culture of collaboration, empowerment, and innovation.

It is time for HR to take a lead (PDF) and to show corporations worldwide what happens when people strategy meets business strategy.

A grey colored placeholder image