HCM and RPA Are Growing Markets – But Face Some Challenges Too, Say Commentators

In 2020, it looks like HR leaders will continue to invest in HR transformation projects aimed at digitalising and streamlining their processes, and so improving employee experience. More and more of them are open to exploring the business case, too, for regional or even Human Capital Management (HCM) systems, say market observers. However, there seems to be a mixed reaction to HCM; take a recent look into the topic from the UK’s Computing.

Quoting research it had conducted in partnership with HCM tech vendor Workday of over 150 IT leaders across a range of professional verticals, the site notes that 41% told its researchers they have an HCM system that maximises employee engagement but 34% said that while they have an HCM system of sorts, they claim it’s seen as “basic and clunky”—so much so that their employees don’t use it to its full potential. A further 22% retain an old-style system that is limited to carrying out basic functions, such as filling in holiday forms or expenses claims, while 3% have to carry out each HRM task individually, on discrete systems.

The study suggests that cloud-delivered HCM may be a better route of travel for customers encountering these kinds of issues, as, “The siloing of HCM and financial systems data and the separation of that data from analytics (due to technical and staff bottlenecks and/or platforms that are not intuitive for non-experts to use) will conspire to limit insight… They also make the organisation’s data strategy far less likely to succeed.”

Other challenges to HCM may come from the complexity of the market, suggests analysts ResearchMoz. “Human Capital Management providers face competition from customers’ internal information technology departments as well as Human Capital Management competitors,” its latest look at the global HCM market suggests. But HCM isn’t the only HR automation tech gaining favour from HR leaders; there’s also growing interest in exploration of how what was until recently a very exotic technology, RPA, or Robotic Process Automation might have a place in automating and simplifying their administrative tasks.

As you’ll probably know by now, RPA is certainly on the radar: Forrester has said that the market will hit $2.4 billion in sales in 2020, a 300% increase from 2017, while fellow number-crunchers Gartner named RPA the fastest-growing enterprise technology market category last year. But – there are some issues. A sceptical January thinkpiece from TechBeacon lists five: challenges scaling up RPA from pilots (few have more than 500 bots, while most have more like 10), management and orchestration of bots is hard, process discovery needs more work (e.g. vetting processes for potential automation in RPA, mapping out the tasks related to the processes, figuring out how they tick, and documenting the flow) and the author fears that as organisations get more stuck into RPA they’ll actually have to ask some bigger problems than they thought (“’Am I solving a task problem? Am I solving a process problem? Am I solving an efficiency problem? Am I solving an integration problem? What problem am I solving?’”).

And as the broadening vision and a drive to scale RPA in the enterprise will result in organisations having to take a more mature approach to RPA and automation governance in the coming year, perhaps this promising but as yet unproven technology should still bear something of a warning label? Maybe. What we can be sure of: lots of us are eager to try – though maybe not as eagerly as folks in The Netherlands, identified by Personnel Today as “top in Europe for automation readiness”.

Specifically, According to research compiled by financial processing business player MerchantMachine, the Netherlands was 95% ready for the implementation of automation, putting 31% of jobs at risk. Slovakia was just 29% ready despite 44% of the workforce being at risk from the new technology. If you’re interested (we were!), the UK was a respectable fourth in the list, with 82% readiness and 30% of jobs at risk; Denmark and Sweden were second and third in the table, with Germany a surprising ninth.

thedmcollaborators editor

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