Drowning in Tools

Live from HR Tech World in London

I’m currently at HR Tech. I’m not a HR person, so this is largely an alien environment for me. What’s the Tech aspect of HR Tech? Apps. And lots of them.

There’s an app for everything: Recruitment. Supporting the whole document signing and background check workflow. Employee on-boarding. Personal development. Yearly reviews. Employee happiness. CV scraping. Org chart updating. Finding somebody to have lunch with. I haven’t seen exit interviews yet, but I’m sure there’s an app for that too (if not, there’s a gap their I’m sure).

The exhibition area is basically split in two: established, huge corporations that have full HR solutions, and… dozens of startups.

The big players offer everything in one package. Except, of course, not everything, and usually the package isn’t much to look at.

On the other side, the startups do exactly what they’re supposed to do: find a niche, focus and execute. But as a potential “buyer,” I’m concerned. Are employees really going to have to get accounts and use 10 different apps for tiny things? And especially for things that, I’m afraid, are perceived by most employees as “non-core” job activity?

Also: as somebody in a relatively modestly sized company: what about costs? A few bucks per employee here, a few there and it adds up really, really quickly. Most of the talks I’ve attended here are from massive companies (40,000 people is now exception) — perhaps they’re the target market here.

Can’t we have the best of both worlds?

I see two ways out of this: either we wait for the big players to buy up the “good” startups, or… we build some common platform for HR apps. A single login system, billing system, white labeling system, and an open module marketplace where you can put together your own HR system with module by wide variety of startups and perhaps established players. But that idea has problems by itself. Who would build such a platform, how would you get buy in, etc.

Effectively we’d need a type of salesforce.com for HR. Or perhaps they’re already doing that.

Oh well. Innovation is a bitch. Until this is figure out we’ll have to stick to sub-par implementations of the things we need in-house, or use Google Forms. It’s sad, though. So much cool stuff is out there, but the value-add of each isn’t sufficient to cover the price and cost of adding yet another application to to our already big collection.