Talent Management Trends Prompt Re-evaluation of Technology

Talent Management Trends Prompt Re-evaluation of Technology

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November/December 2014

Talent Management Trends Prompt Re-evaluation of Technology Decisions


Organizations today realize that, although talent is an important differentiator that can drive business success, it can also be one of the most challenging aspects of the business to manage. In addition to attraction, engagement, compensation, career development, and performance management, there are now many other considerations, including those related to technology:

  • Quickly evolving hiring, mobile, and careermanagement technologies.
  • Organizational readiness for state-of-the-art technology infrastructures.
  • Expanding focus on talent analytics and data mining.
  • Changing number and scope of technology vendors.

The traditional approach to helping people managers execute on their roles has been to deploy HR technology platforms that automate the recruiting, compensation, performance, and succession management processes, along with varying levels of career development, training, and employee communications. However, simply implementing a software solution hasn’t been enough to address, let alone solve, the complex business challenges facing talent leaders. More than ever, organizations require an evolving interplay of expert advice, insights, and analytics, along with best-of-breed software, to be attractive and competitive regarding rewards and talent management programs.

Top vendors in the talent-focused technology market today are taking a holistic approach to delivering integrated solutions. Some are even acquiring smaller,niche technology companies to round out their product offerings. Standalone applications, like learning management, performance management, rewards administration, and applicant tracking systems, are evolving toward truly integrated systems that do it all — manage the administrative and nonadministrative people processes within an organization, while also adding in social, mobile, and gaming elements. This, however, is easier said than done.

It will take a new approach to bring together the planning, design, implementation, and ongoing support of complex talent management processes, in addition to a well-thought-out people strategy that compiles the right technologies and tools into a single end-to-end, start-to-finish system. When entering into any vendor or support partnership, organizations should expect not only the best ideas to address their talent management needs, but also the strategies, tools, and software needed to implement those solutions effectively. The emerging logic, then, is to combine capabilities so that organizations can have it both ways: best-of-breed technology and dedicated human capital strategy expertise, including rewards and talent consulting methodologies.

Ideally, these offerings would embed proprietary intellectual capital (such as decision tools for line managers, competency models, role profiles, and analytics) into the technology platform — to make the platform a ready-to-use system for managers — as well as have HR-driven content readily available to provide just-in-time coaching. Recognizing the need for more textured offerings, global HR consulting organizations have begun to actively partner with top vendors to roll out their versions of these integrated systems.

Organizations are faced with many choices and differentiators as this new era of integrated end-toend software and consulting continues to unfold. In the market today, there is a migration away from on-premises solutions toward cloud-based “software as a service,” with benefits that include lower-cost implementation and much quicker adoption of new capabilities that drive change in organizations. Before a firm chooses to deploy a truly integrated solution, however, it needs to undertake a vigorous assessment and selection process, analyzing factors such as organizational readiness, existing processes, and available resources and infrastructure. The result of true integration should be a reinvention of the talent management paradigm through a flexible combination of consulting expertise and best-of-breed software.



The ideal environment for this new paradigm could perhaps best be described as “total rewards on steroids.” This approach would look at business strategy, talent strategy, performance and succession, and rewards as a seamless process. In the past, rewards were defined as salaries, stock options, car allowances, and other mostly financial compensation. Today, there is additional emphasis on career planning, foreign assignments, flextime, and alternative working arrangements. Social technologies can also be thought of as rewards that allow organizations to increase engagement of their workforce. Many existing HR processes and solutions, such as employee and manager self-service and HR dashboards, can be pushed to mobile devices to increase an employee’s or a manager’s efficiency, mobility, and employee engagement. Many organizations today are adjusting their definition of rewards to facilitate a fundamental shift in talent management.


Another key area of focus is global implementation. For technology to be truly global, an understanding of local practices and work habits in different markets must be taken into account. Technology must be scalable, flexible, and person-oriented, and must keep in mind the individual using the technology. It must be implemented globally with local flexibility. Firms need to have people in place who have a thorough understanding of local processes, the differences that they make, and the perceptions they create in the people who live and work there. A highly configurable data model with flexible infrastructure, cloud-based solutions that allow for rapid deployment across the globe, and varied hosting components are some of the keys to success.


A third component of a successful paradigm shift is embedding intellectual property into technology. To assist in facilitating a culture of self-service, forwardthinking organizations are building intellectual capital into the technology platform, and a single client interface is used to deliver all support and service. For leaders, managers, and employees, self-service allows access to information immediately and can revolutionize how they work. With intellectual property built into technology, leaders and employees can be more educated on best practices and have a greater impact on an organization. The talent management provider becomes the primary source of all strategy, consulting, and solutions for technology-related issues.


Talent management technology solutions, along with their providers, are constantly evolving. After these solutions initially flooded the market, a great deal of consolidation took place. Now the mainstream is becoming dominated by global systems of engagement that incorporate talent management. And that syncs up well with evolving employer needs. More and more organizations are realizing they need a system that fully integrates all aspects of talent management and end-user training and support, one that goes beyond simple process automation. But this new model for the delivery of talent management software and services can flourish only if the organizations benefiting the most from such a model demand nothing less.



Learn more about Mercer’s Talent technology consulting services and tools.




Lisa Sterling (Houston)
Global Technology Solutions Leader,
+1 402 420 0107

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