Human Resources Transformation Enabled in the Cloud, According to PwC’s Annual HR Technology Survey

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HR applications continuing to shift to the cloud as CHROs pursue cost savings, IT self-sufficiency, innovation and mobility

New York, NY, February 18, 2015 More than two thirds of organizations have at least some human resource applications in the cloud and a similar number use mobile HR applications – according to the Annual HR Technology Survey, released today by PwC US, in conjunction with Oxford Economics. The survey examines executives’ use of and experiences with HR technology and how the cloud is enabling HR transformation.

PwC’s latest report shows that HR’s big bet on cloud is still dominating the change agenda at an ever increasing rate. Last year 23% of companies used SaaS (Cloud Software-as-a-Service) for core HR and another 26% planned to move within three years. This year’s survey shows the number using SaaS for core HR has climbed to 44%, with an additional 30% planning to move in the next one to three years. Despite this leap, PwC feels even greater adoption is needed in the future and HR must work through the challenges that come with any significant technology change.

“The great shift of HR applications into the cloud continues, as CHROs pursue cost savings, seek greater self-sufficiency, and set their sights on innovation and mobility,” said Dan Staley, Principal, PwC.  “Moving HR to the cloud is a question of when, not if.”

Mobile Applications Crucial

Cloud is not just seen as another technology platform, but is expected to be transformative on multiple fronts. As an example, the survey findings show that cloud better enables the use of mobile for HR business processes.  However, organizations still fall short on delivering the capabilities and user experiences desired by the internal customers.  For instance, 59% of respondents think it would be beneficial for employees and managers to use their mobile device for performance feedback. However, only 18% of companies currently leverage mobile for the performance management process. Ultimately, mobile is the way people work today, and their expectations will shape digital strategy.

Awareness and Planning Ultra Important

Companies that understand the realities of migrating HR systems to the cloud and that evaluate potential solutions against their most unique business requirements will see fewer surprises during implementation, shorter time to value, and more sustainable benefits from their cloud investments. Despite this, over half of respondents noted that their organizations’ lack of readiness to give up customization and embrace the SaaS mindset was a major stumbling block during implementation.

PwC advises that implementing SaaS within the HR function of an organization requires a heightened awareness and careful planning. To successfully navigate the challenges that come with this technological change, PwC suggests companies must do the following:

  • Choose wisely – The use of cloud technologies for HR is broad and growing, and the number of available vendors and solutions is expanding. When selecting a vendor, communicate (while making every effort to limit) your non-negotiable requirements, understand the vendor’s longer-term product strategy, the other offerings in the product portfolio that may be deployed down the road, their approach to issue resolution, and their release and maintenance schedules.
  • Measure twice, cut once – Create a detailed implementation plan, set appropriate expectations within the organization about the process change and compromises that must take place and establish a solid governance model for decision making before deployment.
  • You still need IT – While cloud removes the need for IT around customization development and environment maintenance, IT still plays a key role in the cloud as it relates to alignment of overall IT security and IT strategy, integrations, complex BI or transactional reporting, deployment of mobile, upgrades of internet browsers for compatibility, etc.
  • Go big on mobile – Leaders must push their organizations to be more bold and ambitious in mobile deployment.
  • Prioritize analytics – Companies must ramp up investments and develop rigorous processes around analytics.
  • "Moving HR to the cloud is a question of when, not if."

    Dan Staley Principal PwC

    HR Technology Transformation

    Successful HR technology transformation requires planning, proper investment in change management / communication to support the implementation, and firm commitment towards embracing the cloud. More companies are making strategic moves to the cloud for HR—and those companies tend to be ahead of their peers in other areas of technology usage such as mobile and analytics.

    “As cloud capabilities for HR continue to advance, today’s cloud adopters will be poised for bigger returns in the years ahead,” commented Staley.

    To view the full report, PwC’s Annual Technology Survey: Innovating for tomorrow’s workforce - Transformation enabled by HR in the Cloud, visit:


    PwC worked with Oxford Economics to survey IT and business executives from over 650 companies around the world during the third quarter of 2015, targeting leaders who work in or support HR. PwC also conducted live interviews with executives in North America, Europe, and Asia.

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