HR Technology in 2017: Disruption Ahead

By: Josh Bersin, October 2016

This article is originally posted in Josh Bersin’s blog:

First, tools for engagement, pulse surveys, feedback management, and culture assessment will be white hot. Not only are these tools now becoming critical infrastructure for companies trying to understand their employee’s needs, theHRTrendy are becoming integrated with performance management, leadership assessment, change management, and just about every other people practice in business. As I described in the article “Feedback is the Killer App,” this category of software is now mandatory in HR.

Second, the market for performance management tools is now in a disruptive stage. For almost 5 years companies have been throwing away ratings, adding check-ins, developing agile goal systems, and making performance management much more data driven and team-oriented. Guess what? There are almost no tools in the market to automate this yet – until now. All of a sudden we see a dozen or more well-funded companies selling cloud-based, team-centric performance management systems that connect to your HRMS or ERP system. These companies are likely to grow, be acquired, or perhaps turn into the “next wave” of talent management providers.

Third, cloud-based HRMS “switchout” continues at a fevered pace. While there are many differences between these products (and companies), they are all quite similar now – and buyers have very good options to upgrade their old HRMS systems with cloud products.

Fourth, the learning platform business is finally reinventing itself. There is a new category of learning product coming: which can be called “learning experience platforms.” These include systems like Degreed, Pathgather, EdCast, Everwise (new release coming), LinkedIn Learning, and others – that focus on delivering a “learning platform” not a “learning management platform.” There’s a huge difference here – these products bring YouTube-like experiences to your employees (similar to what Workday Learning does), and include features for curation, career recommended learning, and data-driven recommendations.

Fifth, the recruitment software market is ready for massive replacement. After about ten years of consolidation (Oracle-Taleo, IBM-Kenexa), a new generation of systems is now starting to reach enterprise scale. Products like SmartRecruiters, Greenhouse, Lever, Gild, JobVite, HireVue, and others are now redefining the space – focusing on today’s modern recruitment process, not just “applicant tracking.” Recruitment today is a marketing, brand-building, social process – one that requires integrated analytics, enterprise workflow, and deep integration into sourcing tools. And AI and machine learning is now impacting the interviewing, screening, and sourcing process. These new products change the game.

Sixth, mobile apps and the use of design thinking is replacing “process tools” with “experiences.” Today, focused on helping employees be more productive at work, we see a tremendous interest in mobile tools (throughout all categories of HR technology) and integrated platforms for employee self-service.

These new products bring together the heterogeneous HR technologies in the company (everything from benefits applications to learning systems) to give employees “journeys” and “solutions” to their day to day transitions. “I just moved and need to update HR” or “I changed jobs” or “I changed locations” or “I had a child” are all such transitions we make. In every case we want to integrate all the various transactions, support, and advice employees need into one place. These tools do this, and they enable mobile apps and also provide case management and advice systems as well.

Seventh, there is a huge growth in the market for “well-being” applications. This is an emerging market, one growing from the traditional marketplace for employee wellness and employee assistance platforms. This new market is not one focused on simply reducing insurance costs, we now know that helping employees feel good is a performance and brand enhancing strategy. New Deloitte Research shows that more than 40% of Millennials will select an employer based on their health and wellness benefits.

And there is so much more. Analytics is growing like a wildfire, new tools to enable customizable benefits and pay are starting to grow, and the marketplace for social recognition is morphing into the market for performance and team management.

The whole marketplace for HR technology is making a glacial shift: away from systems to manage transactions and HR processes toward systems to make employees’ work lives better.

It’s a huge transition, but one that is long overdue. Today we barely have time to get through our emails each day – when HR tells us we have to fill out a form or take a course, we sigh and think “maybe later.” That problem has to go away – and it is now being solved by HR tools that fit into the flow of work.



Bersin, J. (2016).

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