HR Technology Vendors Will Slow Product Pipeline as Economy Falls

Empty Pipes

Don’t look for HR technology vendors to make dramatic new product announcements anytime soon, say industry leaders and executives.

First, they’re focused on supporting employers grappling with the pandemic and its fallout. Second, customers prefer stability over any kind of change during a recession—including changes that come along with new features.

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“You can consume change when the economy is doing real well, but you can’t consume as much change when that’s not true,” said William Tincup, president of RecruitingDaily.com. He expects vendors to take their roadmaps and “re-center them around things that people are consuming today and make sure that those things are really well-built behind the scenes,” he said.

Tincup believes many solutions providers will look to improve their technology in ways that don’t require full-blown rollouts, focusing on development efforts that might not, on the surface, be noticed by customers but improve their product’s overall performance. At the same time, he wouldn’t be surprised to see more integrations enter the market.

Cautious Market for HR Technology

Businesses have already been cutting back on spending and dramatically reducing their headcount. According to PwC, 70 percent of CFOs may defer or cancel planned investments. Of those, 62 percent are eyeing cuts to workforce investments in particular, while 48 percent mull reductions to IT investments.  

Economists expect the April 2020 unemployment report, to be released Friday, to reveal an unemployment rate of between 15 to 20 percent. That’s up from 4.4 percent in March.

Against that backdrop, smart HR technology vendors “are putting money into brand,” Tincup believes. “While the market is going quiet, this is a perfect time to market.”

As the pandemic began gathering steam in March, most vendors were focused on supporting customers as they put out fires. Caught off-guard by the crisis, many employers were scrambled to set up remote-work arrangements or reconfigure their on-premise facilities for social distancing and other safety measures.

Their attempts to adapt were complicated by a number of factors, including employees whose children suddenly needed home-schooling. In March, Gartner said nearly 90 percent of employers had either encouraged or required employees to work from home.

In the weeks since then, many vendors—especially in talent acquisition—began offering free services to both customers and prospects alike. Such moves serve a dual purpose: supporting the HR community, while giving more companies an opportunity to road-test a vendor’s technology.

For example, Dice offered six months of free services to U.S. hospitals in need of technology professionals. Employment platform Aliro began providing 90 days of talent-matching services at no charge. Kronos and Ultimate Software each introduced features to help customers track and mitigate COVID-19’s impact.

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