• Investment in HR technology steady

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    About a third of Asia Pacific-based national and multinational companies anticipate significant changes in their human resources (HR) departments in the next couple of years, as they seek greater efficiencies and improve the processes within the function, according to an annual survey by global professional services company Towers Watson.

    The Towers Watson survey revealed that companies are considering new HR technologies, will continue to invest in HR technology such as mobile applications, and plan to review their HR processes. However, at the same time, 49 percent of Asia Pacific companies currently lack a formal written HR strategy to lay out the role of the function within the business.

    “We’re seeing elsewhere in the world that companies are carefully examining both their HR structures and the way HR services are being delivered, and Asia is no different: there’s a need to review, refine and enhance for the function,” said Robert Zampetti, director of Towers Watson’s Asia Pacific HR Service Delivery practice.

    The 2013 HR Service Delivery and Technology Survey, a global survey of 1,025 companies, including 578 based in Asia Pacific, found that a third of respondents (33 percent) will make a change to their HR structure before the end of next year.

    Among companies changing their HR structure, nearly three quarters (73 percent) are doing so to realize further operational efficiencies, while just over half (52 percent) are doing so to improve quality. Another 38 percent are pursuing a change in business strategy or seeking to achieve cost savings (24 percent), the survey added.

    For the Asia Pacific region, the survey shows that HR technology spending remains steady and strong despite cost reductions in other areas of HR.

    “More than half of organizations [53 percent] indicated their investment in HR technology this year will match last year’s investment levels, while more than a quarter [27 percent] will either increase or significantly increase their HR technology investments,” it further said.

    Almost a third (31 percent) of the Asia-Pacific companies surveyed plan to implement or are in the process of implementing a new HR management system. SAP (Legacy HRMS 20 percent, Success Factors 4 percent) and Oracle (PeopleSoft 15 percent, Legacy HRMS 6 percent, Fusion 2 percent) are the main suppliers, followed by Workday (6 percent), all of which account for 53 percent of the new HR management systems chosen. Global capabilities and costs are the key selection criteria.

    For SAP, lower upfront costs were cited by respondents, while it was predictable ongoing costs in particular that attracted Oracle users.

    The survey also says that HR is also catching on to the mobile technology trend.

    “Nearly half [46 percent] of respondents now provide mobile access via smartphone to employees, with iPhone [60 percent], Blackberry [35 percent] and Android phone [32 percent] being the devices supported. Some 17 percent of companies provide tablet devices, with the iPad [51 percent] and the Android tablet [19 percent] the preferred devices. A number of the companies surveyed [12 percent] operate a ‘bring your own device’ policy,” it said.

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