HR in the Cloud & the Candy Crush Generation
When people talk about cloud based software, SaaS, cloud based file storage and cloud based computing it can sound incredibly scary for those who trained in HR not ‘geek-speak’ and aren’t familiar with the latest lingo. Indeed, (thinking of ‘Yazz and the Plastic Population’), it also sounds like it could be the name of an 80’s pop band!
However, people are already using cloud based software everyday without realising it.
You use ‘the cloud’ already!
Even the elderly generation now use using ‘cloud-based’ social media applications like Twitter, Facebook and Gmail – there really isn’t anything to fear from new technology – so lets start by saying that if something is ‘cloud based’, it is simply stored, accessed and run online, rather than physically stored on your computer.
The beauty of that, as you see with Facebook, is that whether you are accessing the application via your smartphone, your PC or your tablet, you can access the same information, and it doesn’t matter if you are on someone else’s computer (or sat in an internet café in Hong Kong!) you can still log on (and when you post photos to Facebook, your friends at home can see them!)
Sharing information quickly and easily is one huge benefit, but there are other benefits too.
Thanks to the cloud, there is not need to spend days installing software, or of having to buy new hardware with the capability to run your new software.
Save hours over traditional software
Cloud based applications running over the internet are useable in real time and once configured to your business, they are ready to use. One you have the data ready to put into the new system, (which is often straightforward to achieve) deployment takes days (and sometimes even hours) instead of the massive traditional rollout projects that IT departments are used to.
Actually the method of ‘accessing software online’ is not new, hardcore fans of such MMO games as Dungeons & Dragons have been doing it for years… and it’s not terribly different to playing Candy Crush on Facebook now (serious gamers will doubtless cringe at its mere mention, but it’s one of the world’s most successful games ever and very accessible to non-technical folks of all ages.)
‘SaaS’ – It’s a bit like Candy Crush
Perhaps software companies should ditch the scary words and explain SaaS as being ‘a bit like Candy Crush, you know, you can play it on your phone, your tablet or on your laptop!’ (though games do store some data locally).
With SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) contracts, you don’t buy the software, but instead pay a fee to access and use it. The software is stored on someone else’s servers, your data is held securely off site and it’s usually future proof because software updates and technical support are almost always included in the fee you pay to access the software.
Modern SaaS applications don’t just transform the way you play games, they can totally transform the way you do business – and most people agree this is for the better. SaaS contracts have changed the game plan, and are especially applicable to HR teams because of the speed of installation for the business.
Flexible and Scalable if your have more staff
Cloud based applications are also very scalable and flexible, because they are not reliant on your own hardware, so will work equally if you have one or thousands of users – and the number of users can be adjusted if your business needs change.
When your SaaS system is implemented, any goals that need to be met by the new installation can be achieved relatively quickly, thus where cost benefits are a goal, they are often achieved within the first year rather than over a long term project – and once on a SaaS contract, there is rarely a need to move providers, though if you do it is normally fairly straightforward.
Everyone is doing it!
While software and hardware sales in general have slumped, SaaS products and cloud-computing solutions are growing at two to three times the pace of on-premises solutions and this trend looks set to continue. Recent Deloitte research shows that 84% of UK businesses are seeking to change the way they handle HR functions, and the UK has seen a massive growth is the use of SaaS in the HR field.
The reason for this is perhaps best explained by the fact that the two main motivators for change identified in the Deloitte research were cost savings (85%) and greater effectiveness (75%) – and the impact on both these areas can be achieved more quickly on cloud based platforms – SaaS is the fastest, most efficient route to meeting business objectives.
Adrian Lewis works for Codel Software, an innovative business who develops the Activ People module-based HR Suite, and he has seen some changes since the business first started over 10 years ago. He says:
“We have seen explosive growth in demand for our cloud based absence management module, Activ Absence, but demand for the other modules is increasing too. The spreadsheets and paper based systems of old simply have too many flaws and businesses are starting to count how expensive they are to use in practice – businesses aren’t changing because they want to, HR is changing to SaaS systems because it can’t afford not to.”
So, with SaaS set to revolutionise the way we manage HR, and this definitely being a good thing for HR, it seems that the only thing we need to find is a way to explain the concepts of SaaS and cloud based computing so it isn’t scary to people who manage people, not computer systems.
My suggestion is to start with ‘Do you play Candy Crush?’