App stores: Empowering HR to make the right technology decisions

By Matthew Korn, HR manager for North America, UNOde50

Matthew Korn, HR manager for North America, UNOde50

When you think “app store,” your mind likely goes to the place on your personal mobile devices that you use to download the latest app for the cheapest flights or communicating with friends and family. But the same concept is also being applied to business technology too, including HR. As HR professionals are gaining more responsibility for the technology that drives their areas of the business—from making sure employees get paid efficiently to streamlining the new employee onboarding process—the application store is making it possible to get a technology strategy right.

"Instead of driving efficiency, it often feels like we are getting tied down with just managing the technology"

I witnessed this first-hand when our company UNOde50, headquartered in Madrid, opened our first North American brick-and-mortar store in the United States. We knew that a lot of our success in being able to effectively ramp up and expand in one of the most challenging markets for foreign retailers would come down to our people—how we hire, train and keep the right teams. The app store provided by our HCM vendor played a critical role in helping us to find and deploy the best technologies and HR processes that could help us fulfill this goal. And in eight years, we’ve done just that—supporting the significant expansion of UNOde50 to 30 locations, 200 new employees, and more than 1,200 points of sale across the country. Looking forward, we have set an ambitious target for the end of the year: quadrupling our sales by the end of 2017.

Based on UNOde50’s experience, here are a few ways that other HR professionals can benefit from the app store model:

Finding the Best Solutions

Why shouldn’t shopping for a HR application for your company be as simple as finding an app for your personal mobile device? Through online stores, software companies are bringing together the ability to browse, search, read reviews, and watch demos all in one place for thousands of apps that can help you better manage your workforce. In some cases, HR professionals may not be aware of exactly what solution will fit their business needs. App stores allow you to start your search with the business challenge you are trying to solve. In UNOde50’s case, we wanted to integrate our Application Tracking System (ATS) with our HCM solutions, but didn’t know if it would be possible. Because stores have access to a wide array of solutions, search results give users the ability to assess the best technology fit for the company’s specific needs.

Connecting HR Systems

While the range of new technology for HR is exciting, most of us will agree that it can also be frustrating and overwhelming, especially when you try to make it all work together. HR decision makers, today, have experienced a 40 percent increase in the number of HCM platforms to manage, and nearly 60 percent of HR solutions aren’t fully integrated. Instead of driving efficiency, it often feels like we are getting tied down with just managing the technology. Further, while we might be collecting loads of data from different systems, HR cannot analyze it for insights if it’s not integrated at the core.

This is where app stores can help. Typically, they have preconfigured integrations already setup, meaning you can find solutions that work together, share data in real time, and minimize the administrative tasks of managing the platform. At UNOde50, we were able to identify a solution that worked with both our HCM software and ATS to connect the two disparate systems without any downtime. This gave us more agility in our hiring and onboarding processes, and ultimately supported the pace at which the company needed to grow to match the demand of our new geographic market.

Putting HR in the Driver’s Seat

It used to be the case that buying and installing HCM applications required a heavy lift from people outside of the HR organization, including a lot of time from engineers and consultants. Today, easy to use stores and more agile applications that are powered by the cloud mean that apps can be purchased by a specific line of business, like HR. This is making it easier for HR to participate in and oftentimes drive technology strategy for the HR function, and in turn, get more involved in strategic business decisions. The size of the technology deployment will of course also influence the scale of HR’s role, transformative projects can require many resources, but that is not always the case. In UNOde50’s experience, the implementation of the app we purchased and the integration of our HR systems, in partnership with our IT function, was seamless. Because all our solutions were cloud-based, we could ensure that everyone across the organization had access to the same HR technologies—even as we expanded across the North American market.

HR is taking on an even bigger voice within organizations. At the same time, the world—including your employees and clients—is becoming more connected. HR professionals need to be thinking about how the function keeps up with the pace of change throughout the organization and business landscape around it. As UNOde50’s experience shows, technology will play a key role in helping facilitate this, and app stores can ensure that HR professionals are choosing and implementing the solutions that will help get them there.

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