2 minute read

Avoid the HR tech black hole and embrace these five HR constellations

Time is up on monolithic and ‘cloudolithic’ HR technology. HR leaders need to get ready to experiment with a new approach based on five HR tech constellations, says award-winning HR tech thought leader and investor Mike Ettling

HR tech constellations

We’ve had the monolithic, on-premises HR technology system. We then moved to the ‘cloudolithic’ platform, built on the back of big vendors snapping up cloud-based businesses and moving into that space. Now, says author and HR technology thought leader and investor Mike Ettling, we are about to see disruption again as HR moves to a ‘constellation’ of suites that will replace the big tech vendors of today (or as Ettling refers to them, the galaxies).

Ettling says that, going forward, HR leaders will need to create a technology structure that allows them to ‘plug and play’ multiple constellations, experiment and switch. He identifies five constellations:

  1. The Admin constellation: to manage traditional HR areas such as payroll and core HR services
  2. The Wellness constellation: to engage your people in all areas of wellbeing, from mental and physical to financial wellbeing
  3. The Engagement constellation: a suite in which areas such as social learning will sit, but also traditional talent management as it moves from a process context to talent engagement
  4. The Learning constellation: which will deal with structured learning
  5. The Talent Acquisition constellation: for recruiting and associated areas

Of these, Ettling believes the engagement constellation will be most significant. Meanwhile, he says the talent acquisition one is the hardest to predict in terms of which vendors will win out, thanks to the large social platforms such as LinkedIn, Google and Facebook beginning to make real inroads in this space.

Lock-ins are “the biggest evil” and vendors who insist on this are the “Darth Vaders” of HR technology

“HR needs to avoid the black hole when choosing vendors. In other words, don’t put all your eggs into one basket. It is going to be challenging as there are not clear winners in all areas yet but HR needs to get the structure in place for multiple constellations,” Ettling says.

This does not, however, mean a return to the best-of-breed headaches of yesteryear. APIs, that enable applications to communicate with each other, will enable the constellations to seamlessly integrate.

When seeking a new HR technology cloud platform, Ettling suggests asking whether it will be fit for purpose for 10 years and creating the business case based on five years. And, he advises HR leaders, do not get locked in. Continuing the space theme, he said lock-ins are “the biggest evil” and that vendors who insist on this are the “Darth Vaders” of HR technology.


Published 20 March 2019. Mike Ettling was speaking at Unleash19 in London, UK
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