HR Technology Q & A with Matt Straz

The 2016 HR Technology Conference is October 4-7. Over the next week The SHRM Blog will feature a Q & A series with several HR technology experts who will offer their perspective on how technology is impacting the HR profession today -- and their predictions for the future.

The following is a Q & A with Matt Straz, Founder and CEO of Namely.


Q. Which new type of HR technology is most revolutionizing the HR profession?
Payroll, believe it or not. On average, HR teams use nine different applications today, and integration has become their #1 technology challenge. Payroll is the one system that must have accurate, up-to-date employee data. Modern payroll systems, if they’re built as an open platform that connects to other applications, have the potential to serve as a company’s system of record for employee data and unify the entire HR process, no matter which applications the company uses. HR teams save time, eliminate hassle, and provide their employees with a seamless technology experience.
Q.  What do you want HR professionals to understand about the process of selecting HR software?  What are the key considerations?
HR software is no longer just for the HR team. Today, the real customers are your employees and managers. Today, more than half of the workforce are millennials, who expect modern technology that’s on par with consumer apps. Further, they expect great professional development, so they can grow their careers quickly. At scale, that can only come from strong managers. HR teams need to equip managers with the tools and data they need to better manage each employee. The right HR software enables your organization to do great work at scale, and that’s how HR teams should evaluate new systems.
Q. Employees are increasingly using mobile to access their employers’ HR services.  How will employees’ evolving expectations affect an organization’s HR technology regarding access and security?
We’re already seeing employees go to mobile first for many common HR needs, from managing time off to recognizing a coworker, and this trend will only continue. In fact, companies already see heavy mobile use for many business critical applications, such as email, chat, or CRM, and they already manage access and security across mobile and desktop for these applications. I expect to see the same for HR technology.
Q.  Technology is enabling HR to look at how their strategy affects organizational performance, in addition to HR-specific problems. To what extent are today’s HR professionals able to step outside the box that has traditionally defined their role?
Over the last two years, I have observed a tremendous change in HR's sentiment towards data. According to a recent study, 90% of CEOs say it’s important that HR leaders are proficient in workforce analytics. Two years ago, that caused some trepidation, but today I’m seeing more and more HR leaders who run off data and produce meaningful analyses for their business.
HR technology is helping. Many systems have added analytics to their platforms, making it easier for HR teams to asses performance, pay, benefits, and even engagement. As more HR professionals use data and benchmarks, companies can ask more meaningful questions about their employees and their business. And HR leaders become strategic partners to the C-Suite, making a definitive impact on the business.
Q.  As technology evolves, what do you think the future of HR will look like?  
As HR technology eliminates many of the administrative tasks required to keep a company running—payroll, time and attendance, benefits enrollment, etc. —HR professionals will be the strategic leaders who drive growth. Profitable growth comes from every employee doing his or her best work, and HR teams now have the tools to fuel this. 
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