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Cloud HR: Enabling HR Service Delivery

What do a carve out from a global medical device maker, a fast-growing not-for-profit foundation, a global financial services company, and an entertainment company with diverse training needs have in common?

They’ve all turned to cloud-based computing and the Software as a Service (SaaS) model to fuel critical HR Transformation. These related approaches use the Internet to virtualize and centralize content delivery, application management, and system architecture so organizations spend more time on core missions and less on IT. While these approaches are becoming familiar to leaders in many roles, HR is not the first place most people imagine them in action.

Are cloud computing and SaaS the next big disruptive technologies — or are they simply a natural evolution of distributed computing? Either way, they are changing how many parts of the business operate, and they are widely considered a big deal for IT and SaaS.

That’s because two trends are coming together: Business leaders are asking HR for more strategic input and technology is giving HR leaders better tools with which to respond. By embracing an HR-centric view of the cloud instead of waiting for a more general cloud implementation to trickle down, HR leaders can endeavor to do more to support operational excellence, create, and implement more effective talent strategies and support revenue growth.

SaaS has already demonstrated its value in terms of scalability and flexibility, using both on-demand and subscription-based models. Along with other aspects of cloud computing, SaaS is helping organizations to transform their traditional information technology (IT) structures into more nimble, flexible, and affordable architectures.

The technological benefits of cloud computing are already familiar. It allows an organization to deploy service delivery solutions quickly, without the barriers normally associated with size or geography. Once in place, those solutions can scale up or down more easily on the cloud as well. The result is typically cost savings that HR leaders can apply elsewhere.

And, while SaaS technology is generally considered evolutionary, its business implications are more likely considered revolutionary. That’s why the real demand for SaaS is being driven by the business, where there are heightened expectations for agility and flexibility. SaaS can create the possibility of rapid business model innovation, improved service levels, and new ways of controlling costs — powerful stuff for companies responding to the aftereffects of the economic downturn and the pent-up business demand for HR.

Using the cloud, organizations can see structural benefits that lie beyond technology advantages. The centralized model makes it possible to connect various HR initiatives and technology across the enterprise, so that design, portals, and the nature of service delivery itself are consistent and appropriate. This can help HR look and work more effectively at the most critical point of change — the interaction between end users and HR services, such as recruitment, screening, predictive analytics, performance management, payroll, time and attendance, or workforce management.

But there’s even more at stake than the opportunity to do current things faster, better, and cheaper. SaaS solutions, like cloud computing, can also help organizations do entirely new things, like helping HR organizations of any size in their efforts to compete and operate on a global scale.

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