According to the 2022 Gartner CIO and Technology Executive Survey, CIOs expect IT budgets to grow 3.6% representing the fastest year-over-year growth rate in more than a decade. About two-thirds expect to increase spending on cybersecurity and about half of CIOs plan to deploy artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies.
The COVID-19 pandemic certainly accelerated business adoption of these new technologies—and provided an incentive for business leaders to embrace collaboration tools and infrastructure to support remote and hybrid workers. Technology budget growth in 2022 provides CIOs and HR leaders an opportunity to expand those investments and adopt other forward-thinking HR and workforce technologies.
In this article, we’ll explore why it’s important for your business to make technology investments now to support a hybrid workforce, create a better employee experience, and digitalize HR processes like recruiting and onboarding. Additionally, we’ll examine why COVID-19 has brought HR’s priority list to the forefront and how you can build a business case for HR technology investment. We’ll also include some tips so you can tailor your research and successfully present your case to upper management.
Top HR technology priorities in the New Normal
Looking back to 2020, much of the technology spending was focused on virtual private networks and training. A recent Sapient Insights survey found that business investment in HR systems is up by 57% from last year, with a major focus on learning, recruiting, HR analytics, benefits and wellness, and skills management. Another key finding from the Sapient report is that the hybrid work environment will continue, with 50% of organizations noting that at least half of their workforce continues to operate remotely. This is just one of the factors leading many of these businesses to focus on learning tools and HR service delivery applications.
A survey conducted by The Hackett Group revealed top application priorities for HR:
Pulse surveys and feedback systems
Productivity monitoring tools
Predictive modeling tools
Virtual recruiting technology including candidate assessment algorithms
Recruiting and onboarding chatbots
According to Employee Benefit News, “Technology made it possible to keep the workplace afloat throughout the pandemic…Now that more companies are choosing to stay remote, it will be up to HR tech to evolve to support new needs.” For example, HR will need to figure out new and better ways to manage recruiting and onboarding in a virtual world, support employee wellness needs, create an engaging work culture, and adapt to new priorities.
One area that has received increased emphasis is improving diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. A Gartner study revealed that 45% of HR professionals plan to spend more on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives and technologies that help improve the recruitment and retention of diverse talent.
The business case for HR technology investments
The COVID-19 pandemic expanded HR’s priority list, making the need for numerous technology investments more urgent than ever before. Plus, HR must overcome the perennial challenges of recruiting, developing, and retaining top talent in an extremely tight labor market. A recent article in HR Executive points out that HR technology has never been more capable and the HR function has never been more important to the success of the organization. So why then do so many HR leaders struggle to secure the HR technology budget they need? If you’re building a business case for increased HR technology investment, you need to be aware of, and plan to overcome, these three issues:
Business leaders and executives have not traditionally equated people challenges as business challenges
HR may not be a key stakeholder in budgeting and decision making in terms of your organization’s overall technology investment
HR leaders often get caught up in the day-to-day and don’t devote enough time to conduct the necessary analysis to develop a strong business case for new HR technology.
Tips to build and present your business case
To ensure you build a successful business case for HR technology investment, it’s important to examine your organization’s overall business needs and see how HR technology fits into that vision. For example, is your organization downsizing workspace due to having more remote employees? If so, your boss may be more willing to invest in user-friendly technologies that drive productivity and improve engagement.
According to Gallagher’s 2020 HR Technology Pulse Survey, the top reason why HR leaders find it difficult to get the budget for HR technology is that leadership “doesn’t understand the value of the investment.” Thus, when building your business case, be sure to align HR’s vision with business strategy—for example, explain how the new technology will attract the best new talent to your organization or support an increased focus on employee wellness. When building your case, know your audience—some executive teams may want an ROI analysis whereas others may be fine with qualitative benefits.
A recent article shared some practical strategies you can use to win your pitch:
Set the tone by providing a description of the quantitative benefits of your proposed investment. For example, a quantitative benefit of investing in new recruiting technology could fill open positions faster which directly impacts revenues or the technology could help eliminate fines tied to compliance requirements.
Connect qualitative benefits to overall business objective
s. For example, if a business goal is to upskill your workforce, show how investment in a new learning technology would help you achieve this goal faster.
Seek management and stakeholder buy-in from the beginning. Get managers involved early in your process so you can understand their expectations, objections, and any questions they may have about the technology’s impact. This will help ensure your final business case presentation answers those questions and gets them on board.
Additionally, you’ll want to identify, evaluate, and explain any business risks if the technology investment is delayed or not made at all. Be sure to make recommendations based on short- and long-term costs and define what success looks like once the technology is implemented.
Secure an investment in HR technology
As noted in the Gartner survey, most businesses are using increased technology budgets to “help guard the business against the constant volatility caused by the pandemic, trade wars, climate change, and other internal and external factors.” Now is a great time for HR leaders to create and present a solid business case for investing in new HR technologies that enable your business to adapt to evolving needs and shifting priorities.