Automation as the Next Big Disruptor?

HR Predictions for 2014

With each New Year comes a new list of predictions and resolutions.  Looking back, it seems that HR survived its market lull of 2008-2010 when financial constraints and a soft global economy stifled all but absolutely necessary investments.   As we return to the January grind, it appears that 2014 is poised to be a year of “HR Moving Forward.”

As a fan of pithy predictions, here’s my short list for 2014 in Human Resources:

  • Competition heats up for market leaders.  In the HCM SaaS space, Workday is the clear market leader.  We expect that SuccessFactors’ Employee Central will pick up some momentum in 2014 through heavy discounts to win new business away from Workday, but those discounts will start to disappear later in the year.  Aon Hewitt is the clear leader in HRO supported on Workday but look for IBM and NorthgateArinso to win a few HRO deals on Workday and begin to give Aon Hewitt a tougher run for the money.


  • Buyers of SaaS technology show interest in outsourcing.  Early success for HR SaaS products has come from many savvy do-it-yourself HR buyers who cut their teeth on talent modules and have driven the swell of interest in SaaS for core HR.  As buyers roll out and settle into their recently implemented SaaS HCM software, many will focus next on service delivery and the “gaps” to their vision for HR.  Portal, chat, knowledgebase and mobile channels that integrate the SaaS suite with other HR activities, as well as case management and call center infrastructures, are the next greatest concerns.  Buyers looking to address these gaps can make another wave of technology selection and roll-out, but many will also consider options for outsourcing at this time.


  • New SaaS offerings for stand-alone Payroll outsourcing come to market.   Unless your business is limited solely to U.S. operations, addressing payroll as part of your HR vision is problematic at best.  Most buyers have already outsourced parts of payroll.  But how does this work when you have just bought into SaaS HR and want to integrate both together?  Watch for several new service providers willing to take on payroll administration using your SaaS platform.  Exercise caution, though, as only a few providers will take the time to create a well-thought out service offering.   Contact us to discuss up and coming service provider offerings.


  • Many new courtships for global payroll providers.  Speaking of payroll, HR buyers have more reasons than ever to consolidate payroll providers, integrate to global HR platforms, address compliance and risk concerns and clarify ownership and governance issues within their global HR organization.  Global payroll providers are inundated with requests, but struggle to identify the very few that are serious and have the sponsorship and funding to consummate a deal.  In addition to one-off requests from a world full of curious buyers, global payroll providers will be similarly courted by other likely and unlikely suitors.  Supplier-to-supplier relationships abound with software suppliers, local payroll partners, HRO providers looking to round out services for global clients, and even venture capital firms that recognize the demand and want a piece of the action.  Look for a number of private investment firms to make some sizeable investments in this market.  And for tabloid style entertainment, try keeping up with a constant wave of partnership, alliance and “strategic relationships” announcements. .


  • “Big Data” and “Gainsharing” will continue to make noise.  Look for lots of conference topics and articles on the latest and greatest ideas here, but much more “productization” will be needed to bring these ideas to prime time.   Watch for these topics to continue to simmer in 2014 and perhaps find solid ground for HR advances in the future.

Most HR buyers are already “armed” with their priorities for 2014.  And somehow we are already well into January, so for sports and gambling fans alike, the bets are in and the year is off and running.  Moving forward to be sure, but will HR follow a predictable path or take off in different directions?  I can hardly wait to see.

About the author

With more than 25 years of industry and consulting experience, Julie is an invaluable advisor for enterprises needing to evaluate and assess alternatives for multi-process HR service delivery, including workforce administration, payroll, benefits, compensation, recruiting, technology, learning, and talent management. Julie leads complex global HR assessments and transactions around the world. Prior to joining ISG, Julie worked for nearly a decade as an independent consultant, providing market research, vendor assessments, systems testing and implementation consulting to a broad community of benefits administration vendors and human resources departments. Julie started her career in human resources outsourcing, establishing shared service centers for a national benefits consulting and administration firm. She is a well-published thought leader in her field.