For many Human Resources (HR) organizations, the move to cloud-based software delivery is inevitable. Cloud is already living up to its promise at many companies, empowering HR to be more strategic and employees to be more productive. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean everyone fully understands its benefits, or isn’t concerned about the risks inherent to change. Conversations between companies and vendors are cutting through the hype, hope and fears to discover the practical value cloud can bring.
Benefit 1: Fast access to innovation
According to David Ludlow, Group Vice President of HR Line of Business at SuccessFactors/SAP, the benefit of cloud is first and foremost about access to innovation. Unlike on-premise software, cloud delivery allows companies to provide software release updates to HR departments and employees company-wide automatically, on a regular basis throughout the year.
“In cloud, you have much faster access to innovation than you could ever get in the on-premise world so customers can actually use much more effectively and easily what the vendor delivers,” said Ludlow.
Benefit 2: Simple user experience
Coming off a 15-year run as part of SAP’s on-premise Human Capital Management software group, Ludlow is now deeply involved with the company’s entire HCM portfolio, including cloud-based solutions. He thinks people can learn a lot from on-premise software experiences, and he shared some lessons learned during a recent broadcast of the video series, “Firing Line with Bill Kutik.”
At the top of Ludlow’s list was the importance of user experience. He recounted how SAP rolled out its on-premise manager self-service tool some years ago, only to realize that it had given existing, complex HR processes to managers with the expectation that they would become HR professionals. “We hadn’t really put ourselves in the shoes of the end-user.”
That’s all changed with the advent of cloud software. I recently talked with Bill Kutik who shared his thoughts on how cloud computing is impacting HR. Kutik is also an HR Technology Columnist for Human Resource Executive magazine and host of The Bill Kutik Radio Show.
“People in HR are learning that life doesn’t need to be as hard as it was with on-premise software,” said Kutik. “They don’t have to wait to get the latest upgrade which has the latest innovations from their vendor because they don’t have to wait for cloud upgrades to be done by IT or hire a systems integrator to do it for them. And, they’re learning they can have a much better user experience designed for everyone in the company and not just for the HR department.”
Benefit 3: Stay current
Ludlow believes that HR departments not moving to cloud-based delivery today run the risk of falling farther and farther behind. With the availability of new technologies, Kutik sees some traditional objections to cloud quickly going away.
“With cloud, you’ll soon have the same flexibility and capability as on-premise software,” he said. “Most SaaS vendors have long had custom objects, processes and fields. SAP is now offering extensibility with S/4HANA that will allow companies to write new code that will be protected when the next cloud rewrite happens.”
Cloud-based HR is by definition focused on technology, but its impact on businesses and the people who run them is profound. Some organizations are held back by inertia, fear of the unknown or a desire to protect current investments – all valid concerns. But the biggest risk is missing out on the innovation cloud offers to HR and the entire organization.
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