Industry Trends Observed at IHRIM 2013

Rhonda Marcucci, founder of Gruppo Marcucci (GPM), is a respected industry, observer, speaker and author of articles on topics pertaining to the HR and Benefits Administration technology and outsourcing industry. For up-to-the-minute insights from industry conferences, follow Rhonda on Twitter.


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Industry Trends Observed at IHRIM 2013

Posted on 05/28/2013

For those who missed the 2013 HRMS Strategies Conference and Technology Expo in Orlando in early June, (or who didn’t follow the conference on Facebook or Twitter), the GruppoMarucci team is happy to share a few observations about the conference as well as some key trends observed and what they may mean for the HR technology industry.

First, kudos to IHRIM for organizing an exceptionally well-balanced Expo. In past years we’ve observed that one or two categories of products (or service providers) would dominate. That was not the case in 2013, ensuring lots of products of interest for everyone. We’d also like to say how much we enjoyed the Disney Institute Program, Building a Business Through Storytelling. The Disney view on the world is always enlightening and entertaining.

We also enjoyed the education programs and were very pleased to be among the presenters (along with our client TBC Corp.), offering a case study on the benefits (and trade-offs) of point solutions for benefit enrollment and administration. The session was well-attended and numerous questions were posed after attendees heard of a positive outcome for TBC who introduced a point solution platform for benefits that interfaces with the company’s existing enterprise system.

Aside from these events we did our best to attend a wide range of sessions, talk with industry movers and shakers, and then boil down all we heard and saw into some key trends:

  • End-users are increasingly uneasy with the frequency of SaaS releases (averaging 3x per year). Unless exceptional due diligence is given to each set of release notes, end users are finding themselves with functionality gaps because they didn’t take necessary actions on previous releases.
  • Staying on the SaaS track, we’re seeing more service providers promoting themselves as SaaS and selling subscription based models, but failing to meet true SaaS criteria by supporting multiple versions of their product and providing unique fixes in order to retain clients.
  • In a good sign for the industry (and the economy) venture capitalist money is evident aplenty for talent management and recruitment technology with many new companies are being formed.
  • “Big data” will become a key basis of competition, productivity, growth, innovation, and the focus of privacy advocates. Industry leaders will have to grapple with the implications of big data—not just data managers. The increasing volume and detail of information captured, the rise of multimedia, social media, and the Internet will fuel exponential growth in data for the foreseeable future.
  • Non-HR businesses are re-tooling their functionality for the HR industry. eHarmony’s people matching software is being marketed to recruiters. YouTube is now a standard part of many learning systems and Four Square’s location-based services are helping professionals to physically connect and collaborate. While not actively selling, these companies are clearly becoming part of the HR technology marketplace.
  • Regulatory changes limiting employers from unrelated background searches have resulted in an increase in the use of social media to prepare for new opportunities where knowing more about the relationship would be helpful. LinkedIn is being used to vet business development opportunities; helping busy professionals decide whether it’s worth their time to “take the meeting.”
  • Technology has taken over the HR space. Many HR professionals voice concerns about spending resources on products employees lack the technology know-how to use. Reality check: for the first time ever, the technology in our homes and in our pockets is better than what’s available to us at work, debunking the myth that an unskilled labor force will be unable to use a high-tech product to receive employer communications, understand how to use and to choose benefits, and other HR-related self-service tasks. Skill levels aside, live call centers are a critical element for successful benefit enrollments; especially when new technology is first introduced.
  • Regardless of the younger generation’s ability to interface in all manners via text, benefits are simply too complex for text-based support. Even millennials want to talk live to a person. Don’t expect this to change; the complexity of benefits will continue to defy the ability to get feedback in the abbreviated communication style of SMS.
  • And lastly, we’ll leave you with one simple concept: Technology will not solve the “human” problem. No matter how sophisticated the technology, people will continue to do things you don’t want them to do. But take heart; that’s job security for many of us.

Join the dialog! Share your observations with GruppoMarcucci – about the conference if you were there or simply about our observations.

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About Gruppo Marcucci

Gruppo Marcucci (GPM), a division of Gallagher Benefit Services, Inc., provides outsourcing intelligence and associated consulting to stakeholders in the Benefits and HR Technology & Outsourcing industry. Our in-depth understanding of the service provider market and our vast experience sourcing and implementing solutions is key to our clients achieving full operational success.

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