2012 HR predictions

Guest post written by: China Gorman

I’m not big on predictions.  I’m big on surveying the environment, looking at the data, and then figuring out what needs to be done and doing it.

But it’s that time of year.  Predictions are everywhere.  Want to know what venture capitalists think is looming large in 2012?  Read this.  How about the top 10 issues for small businesses?  Read this.  Or how about 5 big tech predictions for 2012?  Read this.

In the human capital management world, Josh Bersin has given us the best list of predictions for 2012, found here. And there are countless others.  Interesting reading, all.  I especially appreciate Josh’s take on 2012.  It’s based on extensive Bersin & Associates’ research and analysis.

But all of these lists talk about the development of or changes in market or organizational dynamics.  They’re market survey.  They don’t really tell the reader what to do about the developments.  That’s why I don’t like annual predictions.  They always seem very Chicken Littleish to me.

Here’s what’s happening in the HR environment that worries me most for HR professionals:  the increasing number of deals and the increasing flow of investment money into the HCM space.  Well, it’s not the deals and the money that concerns me, it’s who the buyers are and where the money is coming from.

The trend is that large tech players not already in the HCM space are evaluating the talent management trends and seeing the need for solutions that they currently don’t offer.  There’s gold in them there HR hills.  So they make acquisitions to enter the space.   Organizations like SAP and SalesForce have recently done this.  They get both solutions and talent in the deals.  Good for them.

This tells me that everyone – not just HR professionals – is convinced that the people management issues in organizations are only going to get bigger, more concerning, more critical.  That means everyone will be focused on the talent pipeline, on engagement, on performance management, on education, on the looming demographic shifts, etc.  These are all HR issues, right?

But here’s my concern.  SAP and SalesForce – just like Oracle before them – are probably already doing business in your organization.  Now that they have these dynamic HCM solutions, who will they call to get your organization’s business?  You in HR?  Or their established customers in Finance, or IT, or Sales?  Is HR going to get cut out of the decision making process?

Will you wake up one morning and find that your head of sales has added performance management to her SalesForce annual contract and now needs your help in implementation?  Will you get a call from IT after it’s added recruiting, goal setting and learning modules to its SAP contract?  Or will they involve you in the process?

HR leaders and departments already working strategically with their counterparts in other functions to collaboratively provide solutions to the people management issues of the organization have nothing to fear.  But if the continued lament about board room furniture is an accurate measure, many HR professionals may have something to fear.  My concern is that they won’t see this coming – in 2012 or ever.

HR leaders and departments working in silos, pushing programs and solutions out in isolation may just find that they’re increasingly left out of the loop as their HCM solution providers are integrated into large ERP providers.

So here’s my suggestion – not prediction – for HR in 2012:  pay attention to what’s happening with M&A activity in the HCM space.  Know your own vendors – in the HR space as well as the Finance, IT and Sales space.  Understand the impact of who’s investing in whom and who’s buying whom.  And work on your relationships with the head of IT, the head of Finance and the head of Sales.  They’ll be far more involved in HCM solutions procurement processes than ever before.


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