Employee data is among the most sensitive information businesses hold, so it’s understandable when they want it kept within their own network rather than
outsourced to cloud providers, who store it in data centres elsewhere. But how much does avoiding cloud technology slow down innovation in HR? Does it really lead to companies falling behind in productivity, employee engagement and cost efficiency?
In Canada where we’re especially risk-averse to investing in new technology and ideas that can propel us forward, it’s definitely taking longer for businesses to
realize the opportunities available today, particularly in cloud computing. Adapting to cloud-based software in HR can have a real impact on the business as a whole. It has the effect of making companies feel more connected, holistic and modern, as tools for employee onboarding, performance assessments, succession plans, and other HR operations are simplified to the point where anyone in the company can use them easily and collaboratively.
Cloud-based software allows you to do things faster and more intelligently, while helping you spend on HR only when you need to. This is because it’s much cheaper for your IT department to have a cloud provider run your applications than set everything up on site. You’re cutting out the costs in installation, upgrades and maintenance, and you’re not so inclined to stick with tools you no longer want or need. Your IT department won’t have to ‘rip and replace’ the systems you use when they need upgrading, so you can adopt software at your own pace and painlessly tweak it to your liking.
In HR where it’s important to scale with the business in terms of what you have at your disposal, the faster time-to-value from cloud-based software is a big perk. Take the example from the Canadian mining company Goldcorp, one of the world’s fastest growing senior gold producers. The company has moved much of its HR operation into the cloud, which it says has added faster value to its geographically-dispersed employee base. Cloud software is breeding a people-centric culture across the company and giving employees access to more insightful data which is being analyzed to make better decisions.
Replicating that success without other decision makers in the business becoming anxious over the security of employee data is the key challenge. What they must realize is that putting a vetted cloud provider in charge of your data is typically a much safer bet than trying to keep out threats on your own, especially when the software is hosted in a secure data centre on Canadian soil.
Our country’s collective data privacy-related concerns are aggravated by the Patriot Act in the US, which allows its authorities to investigate data from Canada when it crosses the border. In some Canadian provinces, the fear has spread to the point where public sector organizations are prevented by law from entering into contracts with cloud providers at all. There is so much to gain from changing these laws to allow them the same freedom the private sector enjoys. Once all public and private Canadian organizations accept and have access to cloud technology, HR is one of many business functions where innovation will thrive and help our country become more globally competitive.