As we ease into a new year it’s natural to take a look at the major trends and important advances so that we can better plan our business. I’ve been working with SAP HCM for 18 years now, and working with other HR systems before that. Based on that experience I believe there are four important areas for SAP HCM customers to become familiar with right now and eventually master:
Mobile Computing/Devices: Expect some hype, over-selling and under-delivering in the short term, but this is a trend that is unavoidable. There are millions of devices out there, people are using them more and more, and leveraging that can bring a lot to HR. The actual functionality is still a bit sketchy, there is a lot of new terminology and concepts, and much of it will probably be new to your IT group. This is like ESS and MSS a decade ago: we pushed data and processes out to the browser back then, now we need to push them out to the devices. A few years from now HR data and processes on mobile devices will be just as ubiquitous as ESS/MSS on the browsers of today.
Analytics: With HANA and more Business Warehouse (BW)/Business Objects (BO) functionality, and the wealth of data produced by all the transactional HR processes, there is a lot of value to be achieved for those who take this on. Matching this HR data to other functions can provide some valuable insights. This effort has to be a combined business/IT partnership – neither party has what it takes to do it alone. In most cases, more of the work will be (or at least it should be) with the HR line of business because useful analytics is really about distilling more meaning from business data. And by the way – Business Objects Explorer on the iPad and smartphone is a killer combination of mobile and analytics. Companies can make BO on mobile devices one project that advances two goals! If on-premise BW/BO is too much to handle, you can even ease into analytics by using BO OnDemand.
SOA: There’s nothing sexy here, it’s more like upgrading the utility service in a growing city. The increased data velocity being driven by mobile and analytics will in turn drive tighter and faster integration between HCM and other systems. People expect real-time updates and integration via their mobile and self service apps – this is what consumer oriented apps have given them, after all. SOA is a critical part of enabling that fast, apparently seamless flow of data. At least resolve to use SOA methods in your next integration project instead of flat files.
Value: There should always be a focus on value, this is one area that never goes out of style. The previous three points are essentially about providing more value to the organization. There has to be an overall attitude of looking for ways to leverage SAP HCM technology and HR business processes that provides more value to the organization. That can mean using more of the existing system you have already licensed, improving the underlying processes so that they better support the business, and simplifying those processes that have become lethargic over the years. Firms miss out when they stop trying to achieve more value simply at the time of their SAP HCM implementation. SAP’s software isn’t static, neither is the business environment in which your firm competes – so you can’t have a static implementation of SAP HCM.