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Improved employee experience driving HR tech market disruption

HR TechLearning News

Josh Bersin will use a keynote address at the HR Technology Conference this week to explain how HR tech companies need to change their products to appeal to employees and lose the their traditional 'back-office' focus on operational processes.

Josh Bersin's HR Tech keynote will discuss how the demand for employee centricity and improved experiences are driving disruption in the HR tech market
Josh Bersin's HR Tech keynote will discuss how the demand for employee centricity and improved experiences are driving disruption in the HR tech market 

In a preview of his HR Technology Conference keynote, global industry analyst Josh Bersin said HR tech companies need to dramatically change their product offerings to appeal to employees, positively improve work productivity, and simplify day-to-day employee experiences.  Vendors that miss this trend will lose market share, he said.

Historically, HR tech vendors have built systems based on operational processes with only casual regard for employee usability or the special needs of varying employee groups. Categorized as talent management or learning management platforms, these systems are important but limit the ability for companies to create custom experiences, develop and share content, and deliver useful tools that help employees do their work.  Now, as companies respond to the pandemic, these "back office" vendors are losing share to products that delight employees.

"To see this trend play out, all you have to do is follow the money," Bersin said.  "'Employee-first' suppliers such as ServiceNow, Guild Education,, BetterUp, Articulate, CultureAmp, Glint, Degreed, and Lattice are now achieving multi-billion-dollar valuations. While each of these vendors are different, the biggest thing they have in common is that they are useful and enjoyable for employees."

Bersin identified three emerging categories shaping the HR tech market.  The first category, now called employee experience platforms, is becoming crowded with offerings. Microsoft with its hugely disruptive Viva offering, LinkedIn and LinkedIn Learning, and new tools from Glint, Perceptyx, Qualtrics, Medallia, and Peakon (from Workday) are all reinventing employees' daily work experiences. When coupled with design platforms from ServiceNow and similar companies, these technology combinations give employers the power to truly recreate work for almost every segment of their workforces.

The second category includes mini-apps that let employee apps appear in the flow of work.  Companies such as Degreed, EdCast, Udemy, SuccessFactors, and Oracle offer solutions that let customers mix and match different employee systems and seamlessly embed them into Microsoft Teams, Salesforce, or Zoom.  All of this is done "under the covers" so that employees have access to additional content and key functionality without disrupting their day-to-day workflows.

The third category includes AI- and skills-enabled platforms that combine external market data with internal employee information. Leaders include and Beamery;  vendors eyeing this space include Gloat, Skyhive, and Censia.  All give employers advantage in addressing hiring, skills development, and internal mobility challenges. 

"Companies want all sorts of wellbeing, coaching, and employee productivity systems to make hybrid work easier," Bersin pointed out. "But the big winners in the next market wave will be the vendors that open up their systems for easy integration, make them easy to configure and change, and power them with AI and external resources so employees get just what they need to do their jobs. The pandemic has taught us that unless technology investments help make employees are happy and productive, they are pretty much useless."

Bersin's keynote, "The Ten New Truths of the HR Technology Market," will be delivered at 8:30 a.m. PDT on Wednesday, September 29, at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas.  The HR Technology Conference is the premier event for buyers and sellers of HR technology systems and tools.  The conference runs from September 28 through October 1.