Bersin by Deloitte: 'Mobile First' the Mantra for Today's Human Resource Technology Providers

Learning and talent transactions top the list of HR functions receiving the most mobile support

May 28, 2015, 08:00 ET from Bersin by Deloitte

OAKLAND, Calif., May 28, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Human resource software vendors increasingly are developing new products as native applications for smartphones before moving them to laptops and personal computers, providing immediate and 24/7 access to a wide range of HR, talent and learning applications, according to new research from Bersin by Deloitte. Summarized in a WhatWorks® Brief, the research findings appear in "Smartphone Support in Talent and HR Applications 2015." (Bersin by Deloitte will publish a companion study on user preferences in June).

The study found that 93 percent of the 45 human capital management (HCM) solution providers surveyed now support HR and talent applications on smartphones, and many of these develop for mobile devices first. Such native applications typically leverage some of the specific functionality of smartphones. This includes the ability to provide bite-sized, more personalized information in-the-moment. This may explain why learning and talent transactions receive the most mobile support. Seventy-three percent of the vendors surveyed offer mobile applications to support learning-related surveys, quizzes and assessments. The research also shows that providers are focusing on mobile applications for managerial approvals (64 percent), performance management (56 percent), and employee self-service (49 percent).Talent acquisition functions, in particular, emerged as a key focus area.

"Talent acquisition applications have been among the most desired mobile function sought by end-users, and vendors are responding to that demand," said Katherine Jones, Ph.D., vice president, HCM Technology research, Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting LLP. This was an important finding in a previous Bersin report, "Managing Talent through Technology: HCM Buying Trends in 2013." Such talent acquisition applications might include submitting job applications, uploading supporting information such as a resume, and requesting hiring manager approval. These enhancements can help an approver make a more informed hiring decision. "In fact, 42 percent of the 45 vendors studied said that they support talent acquisition on smartphones. And increasingly, vendors are focusing on related functions. This year, onboarding joined hiring management as a key area of interest for smartphone application providers."

According to Pew Research Center's October 2014 "Mobile Technology Fact Sheet", 64 percent of all American adults have a smartphone, which is generally defined as a cellular phone that performs many of the functions of a computer. Due to this large percentage, vendors are developing software for this market as they move to the cloud. "The cloud" refers to sharing computing resources and paying for them as they are used, versus buying and using dedicated hardware systems.

However, the Bersin by Deloitte research found that little process innovation exists in smartphone applications. "Smartphone applications tend to be created to do what was done on computers and in much the same way," Jones said. "While the portability and increased accessibility are important, today's technology often just makes existing and familiar computing applications easier to use."

The research also found that the percentage of HR and talent providers supporting mobile applications in the many transactional and operational areas varies:  

  • 41 percent help managers to approve performance reviews;
  • 35 percent allow managers to approve personnel decisions for salaried works and contractors;
  • 28 percent enable managers to approve time-off requests;
  • 27 percent let managers approve compensation rates, merit pay and bonuses; and
  • 24 percent support employee scheduling requests and shift changes.

In the future, Jones said, HR professionals are likely to find increasingly sophisticated mobile applications covering all aspects of HR that are now confined to "tethered" platforms, such as desk-bound technology.

"As the market becomes inundated with smaller, different devices, such as smartwatches and other wearables," she said, "smartphone use for human capital management is likely to be just the first step to more portable, accessible and lower-cost workforce management."

To learn more, register to join Katherine Jones for her online webinar, "Getting Smart with Smartphones: Solutions for Human Capital Management," June 16, 2 p.m. EDT/ 19:00 BST.

Those interested in learning more about Bersin by Deloitte or its WhatWorks® membership may email 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 or

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