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At this week’s 2010 HR software Show at London Olympia, the common thread among exhibitors was all about accessing traditional applications over a new-ish medium, Web 2.0 – common online parlance for applications that are more interactive and user-centred than plain old Web 1.0.
The familiar HR software players, such as Northgate Arinso, Access Select, ADP, Logica and Sage were all on parade, and flanked by the smaller niche ones. Most providers were promoting traditional HR software wares, such as payroll, recruitment, benefits administration, talent management, absence management and so on.
Unsurprisingly, these tended to be served with a twist of web, as much of the HR systems sector continues its march to utility status and/or software as a service. Jane Lacey, marketing manager at Access Select, says the hot topics for visitors to its stand were web-based absence management and recruitment software services.
Long-established ADP, best known for its payroll services, used the show to launch software that it acquired through its recent takeover of OneClickHR – also known as Vizual. The suite, HR.net, covers payroll, time and attendance and employment screening. It is offered as a utility or in-house model.
Richard Dutton, ADP’s national accounts sales manager, says questions asked by visitors were around squeezing better value out of software investments and HR software as a utility. “There’s a great and growing interest in this.”
Craig Taylor, head of marketing at Logica, says: “About 40% of the delegates I have spoken to are asking about pay-as-you-go services, which is really about efficiency and cost control.”
However, Julie Windsor and Sue Lingard, director of operations and marketing director respectively of Cezanne, say no-one had asked about software as a service at the show. “It’s now a given,” they say. The company was showcasing its talent management and global HR software.
In the Software Showcase presentation area, a talk on employee engagement revealed a surprising lack of it on the part of the delegates. Out of about 25 who were present, just four said their employers were doing anything about employee engagement and only two said colleagues at their organisations were highly engaged.
Perhaps they need more appropriate compensation. This was the new name of the game on the flagship NorthgateArinso stand, where the HR software behemoth revealed its latest offering – Compensate.
This HR system helps users ensure staff are paid appropriately by giving market rates and comparisons for any role. It comes as a standalone, or can be integrated with existing systems.
“It’s been very well received by visitors,” says NorthgateArinso’s marketing manager Manish Grover.
Exhibitors seemed largely pleased by turnout, but it’s a rare show when they say otherwise. However, Cezanne’s Lingard says the show has been “dying for years” in terms of visitor footfall, though “we’ll be back next year”.
Karen Carrington, marketing administrator at Frontier Software, which was showing a wide range of HR software, including HR 21, its employee self-service system, says: “There’s been quite a good turnout. It’s better than last year and we’ve had some good leads.”
ADP’s Dutton says the show was “very busy”, believing the turnout to be a few hundred. And Niclas Folkesson, director of first-time exhibitor iViewXpress, a Swedish software supplier, says he was “surprised” by the size of the show and the turnout: “It’s larger and higher than I expected.”
The company showcased its offering of the same name. It’s an online video interview system that enables employers to see candidates giving answers to whatever questions they choose – within reason – to put to them. This saves inviting no-hopers to the office and, claims iViewXpress, reduces an employer’s carbon footprint by an average of 700 pounds of CO2 per on-site interview.
Director Niclas Folkesson says a lot of recruitment companies had called in to see the product – you can see why.
Another overseas visitor, French company TalentSoft, took an HR Software Show stand for the first time to demonstrate and promote its talent management software. Director Jean-Michel Bogacz says: “The show has been a real success for us – we’ve had 30 leads in two days and good interest from HR directors.”
Finally, another small operator in the land of the HR software giants, Human Capital Services, showed off its Business Box software. Aimed at the 500-employees-or-fewer market, this provides web-based HR and business software services on a pay-as-you-use basis. “We charge £2 per user per month,” says commercial director Simon Boyle.
Would he come back next year? “Definitely yes. If you’re serious about launching a product in the HR space, you need to be here.”
If you’re researching HR Software for your organisation, try Personnel Today’s independent buyer’s guide, Smart Buyer, some of the content of which can be linked to from this article.