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Bersin by Deloitte: Despite Perceived Benefits of Smartphone Use in Human Resources, Uptake of HR Applications Lags

Improved workforce productivity, real-time decision-making and employee engagement cited among perceived benefits of smartphone use in HR  

OAKLAND, Calif., June 18, 2015 — While the majority of human resource professionals say they perceive benefits from Smartphone use in HR, they also indicate reluctance to embrace the use of mobile applications in their organizations, according to new research from Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting LLP. Summarized in a WhatWorks® Brief, the research findings appear in “Smartphones in the Workforce: What HR Practitioners Say about Planned Use.” This new research on user preferences for smartphone applications is a companion study to research published last month, focused on solution provider support for such applications.   

The new research shows that a majority of HR professionals surveyed say they believe that increased use of HR applications on smartphones likely would result in increased benefits, including workforce productivity (60 percent), more timely responses from users (50 percent), improved real-time decision-making (53 percent), and even increased employee engagement (52 percent). The new research report includes several case studies demonstrating how organizations are benefitting from mobile HR applications. Despite such demonstrated benefits, those surveyed indicated that their plan for future use of mobile HR applications was negligible. 

“More than half of HR professionals we surveyed indicated that they have no intention to add mobile applications for themselves, their managers, or the employees in their organizations,” said Katherine Jones, vice president, Human Capital Management (HCM) Technology research, Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting LLP. “However, when we interviewed HR executives, many indicated that they would like to be able to provide mobile access to HR applications. The most expressed barrier to using smartphones for HR applications is the existing HR information system or enterprise resource planning system that typically integrates financials, HR, manufacturing, supply chain and customer relationship management. HR professionals who are in environments with a deeply-entrenched on-premises system that does not support mobile access, often express both desire for mobile access and acceptance of the fact that they feel very unlikely to get it.” 

Smartphones support “in-your-pocket” applications that provide immediacy and 24/7 accessibility to both managers and employees. Increasingly, such applications support human capital management solutions. In fact, 93 percent of the HCM solution providers surveyed support HR mobile applications, according to another Bersin by Deloitte study published last month, “Smartphone Support in Talent and HR Applications 2015.” That research cited data from another report, “Managing Talent through Technology: HCM Buying Trends in 2013,” showing that 29 percent of HR professionals surveyed indicated that their most desired mobile application was one to support recruiting and job applications of potential job candidates. The planned addition of smartphone support for onboarding in the year ahead showed the biggest jump of any application studied in the Bersin by Deloitte survey.  

While HR leaders may be reluctant to embrace mobile HR applications, Jones highlights several trends that are converging in the market to support the adoption of such applications: 

  • Mobile devices – especially smart phones – are increasing in use in both the consumer and work environments. In locations that lack a land-based telephony infrastructure, mobile devices are event more prevalent, as HR professionals with global employees are finding. 
  • The computing power required to run even large HR applications is increasingly available in smaller and more economical devices. Today’s transactional applications for smart devices, such as those that give managers the ability to approve compensation rates, merit pay and bonuses, may in the future be complemented with computational capabilities. 
  • HCM software providers increasingly develop software for mobile devices as they move to the cloud. “The cloud” refers to sharing application and computing resources and paying for them as they are used, versus buying and using dedicated on-premises systems. HR professionals are likely to find more sophisticated applications in the future that cover aspects of HR that currently are managed and used on “tethered” platforms, such as desk-bound computers. 
  • The increased use of HR applications for management of hourly workers – especially in the hospitality and retail industries – likely is a harbinger of accelerating adoption. In manufacturing and other industries with an hourly workforce, the use of clock-ins and clock-outs via smartphones is growing. 

The perceived benefits of HR applications on smartphones, including higher productivity, improved timeliness in decision-making, and enhanced end-user engagement, Jones added, “bode well for increased adoption – when the core HR and talent applications currently in place in the organization support smartphone integration.” 

To learn more, register to join Katherine Jones for her online webinar, “Hungry Yet? The Appetite for Smartphones in HR,” July 21, 2 p.m. EDT/ 19:00 BST 

Those interested in learning more about Bersin by Deloitte or its WhatWorks® membership may email info@bersin.com or call +1 510 251 4400.  

About Bersin by Deloitte

Bersin by Deloitte delivers research-based people strategies designed to help leaders and their organizations in their efforts to deliver exceptional business performance. Our WhatWorks® membership gives Fortune 1000 and Global 2000 HR professionals the information and tools they need to design and implement leading practice solutions, benchmark against others, develop their staff, and select and implement systems. A piece of Bersin by Deloitte research is downloaded on average approximately every minute during the business day. More than 5,000 organizations worldwide use our research and consulting to guide their HR, talent and learning strategies. For more information, please visit http://www.bersin.com.  

As used in this document, "Deloitte" means Deloitte Consulting LLP, a subsidiary of Deloitte LLP. Please see http://www.deloitte.com/us/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.  

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Laura Evenson

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Bersin by Deloitte

Deloitte Consulting LLP

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levenson@deloitte.com