As predicted, HR technology providers are releasing mobile applications in droves. Within the last few months Lawson/Infor, Lumesse, Peoplefluent, SuccessFactors, and Workday have all had major announcements, with more to come. Some interesting trends:
What about HTML5?
Bullish statements from Salesforce.com, Google, and Facebook, along with an enthusiastic technical community would suggest that native application builds are no longer necessary and HTML5 is the way to go. And yet, no HR technology vendors are using HTML5. They are all building native. Why is this? The reality is that while HTML5 has closed some gaps with regards to local data storage and speedier caching, the user experience is still insufficient to get new users addicted to new applications. And this is what HR technology providers need to do right now. Until HTML5 can completely close the gap or employees/executives are so used to using mobile devices to access and leverage people information, native development (on potentially multiple operating systems and design palettes) will be the norm.
What’s the approach to native development?
There are three major camps with regards to native development strategy, ranging from generalized to specialized (see figure below).
1. Standard native applications for iOS (Apple), Android, and Blackberry (RIM). With this approach, vendors are building applications for all major devices. The application interface is tweaked slightly to fit into the design experience of the device, but a good portion of the development work can be re-used from device to device. The advantage of this approach is more rapid cross-device development and the ability to reach more users with simple, straightforward tasks.
2. iOS (Apple) specific applications. With this approach, vendors are optimizing the mobile experience for the iPhone, in particular. Plans to build out on other devices take a back burner. The advantage of this approach is a richer experience for a popular device and a quicker time-to-market with new applications.
3. iPad specific design. With this approach, vendors are optimizing design for users of a rich and roomy touch interface. Other tablet devices are not a concern yet, because no one is buying them. However, executives and senior managers are buying iPad’s by the dozen. For HR, this is a target constituent for rolling out people planning and insight. The advantage of this approach is an extremely rich and hopefully addictive interface for a strategic population.
As different kinds of applications emerge, vendors are sure to mix and match these approaches.
What applications are being delivered?
Employee “directories” are the most common mobile application with offerings from Lawson (Mobile Employee), Peoplefluent (Explorer), SuccessFactors (Org Chart), Ultimate (Employee Directory), Workday (Organization Swirl). In addition to look-ups, some of these applications such as Peoplefluent, SuccessFactors and Workday offer rich visualizations of organizational relationships.
Another very popular application being delivered via mobile is recruiting, with a particular emphasis on manager visibility into the recruiting process. Lawson, Lumesse, Peoplefluent, and Successfactors all have takes on this.
Kronos covers workforce management. Saba and SumTotal cover learning. And, ADP introduced a mobile payroll RUN last year.
*See below for some public screenshots.
What applications and devices are most needed in your organization? Is your vendor hitting the mark? What are they missing?
Workday Organization Swirl
Ultimate Employee Directory