The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development's HR Software Show (HRSS) is a "Tomorrow's World" for the tech-savvy HR professional. Of the technology on show, that which wasn't quite ahead of the curve certainly wasn't that far behind it.
Certainly, mobile apps are helping to satisfy the needs of those managers and employees who want to access HR and payroll systems while out and about.
Among those unveiling and talking about mobile apps were industry heavyweights Sage and ADP. The former unveiled a mobile app - operating on the iPhone and Blackberry platforms - that enables users to access its HR and payroll systems.
Users of the app can check various personnel services such as holiday requests, absence notification and pay, and line managers will be able to take a departmental view. The app can be downloaded from the iTunes or Blackberry app stores and is free for employees of Sage customers who use the SnowdropKCS HR and payroll package.
ADP marketing manager Nicola Smith said that the HR software giant would soon be releasing mobile apps which would allow out-of-office access to payslips, absence, holidays and other personnel information and systems.
Importance of social media
Meanwhile, social media continues to make its mark on HR.
HR software specialist Access used the HRSS event to give details of a social media site for its customers where they can access reports, post information on their HR software issues and give each other advice. The initiative is called ReportShare
In addition, talent management software specialist SilkRoad chose the show to give some detail of its Point product.
Part of a cloud-based talent management suite, Point offers various social networking features for use in the workplace and enables employees to use forums to post details of expertise and to collaborate with colleagues. Managing director Nick Roi said that Point was being offered to clients for testing.
Employees can be very testing for HR departments; how much better might it be if their queries could be handled automatically without wasting valuable HR time?
Exhibitor AskHR used the show to highlight a system that could save valuable time for HR departments by answering employee questions automatically and by referring them to further related information. The eponymous product, AskHR, uses semantic and contextual analysis to assess and understand employee requests and provide relevant answers.
The semantics engine was developed by Transversal, a Cambridge University spin-off whose clients include Capita, M&S and the BBC. A spokesperson claimed the product is "like giving every employee their own permanent online HR adviser".
Those HR pros with an espionage bent may like SpectorSoft's user activity monitoring software product, Spector 360.
The company claims the system enables employers to check websites that employees visit, protect confidential information and record all emails and attachments sent and received. One client is championship football team Blackburn Rovers.
On this subject, SpectorSoft's business development manager Jeff Spring said employees must be told beforehand that their computer-based activities are being monitored. Product costs vary depending on the number of users but typically its £100 per licence and it runs on site on a central server.
On the mainstream software front, the general market players are inching their way ahead with compliance software for next year's debut of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs's requirement for real time information filing, and more and more of the products in the market are cloud-based and available via software as a service (SaaS).
Ceridian demonstrated its latest SaaS offering, HRevolution12, which includes pensions auto-enrolment software, at the show. The auto-enrolment element can, it is claimed, manage key auto-enrolment requirements and functions and the movement of data between payroll and the pension provider's system. An iPhone app for on-the-go access to payslip, holiday and other HR tasks is also available.