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Big tech is quickly moving into the HR tech space — but who’s winning?


  • Technology giants such as Microsoft and Google entered the HR tech space long ago — but what other tech behemoths are bringing HR tech capabilities?
  • The opportunity for innovation is clear, but COVID-19 has supercharged the adoption of workplace technologies.
  • What are the challenges for tech giants in the HR space?

Over the past few years, many of the world’s biggest technology companies have launched HR products in a bid to transform the way people work, collaborate, and communicate across the entire organization. 

But how exactly are technology giants breaking into the HR tech space, and which products are having the most significant impact in the workplace today? From online collaboration platforms to virtual reality applications, we explore some of them.


Tech giants such as Google, Microsoft, and Salesforce have become the operating system of the whole organization and form the foundation of how work gets done today, whether it’s email, instant messaging, file creation and sharing, case management, knowledge sharing, or storage, according to Forrester principal analyst Betsy Summers. 

She tells UNLEASH: “So it makes total sense that they’d eventually collide with the HR technology that manages the people doing the work. With work tech taking the front-end experience, HR tech has to split focus between maintaining their consumer-grade UI/UX as a destination product while also building an integration and partner ecosystem that enables their capabilities to show up in the flow of work.”

Her view is that embedding HR processes into the flow of work will allow organizations to better understand how people work together, review their performance, as well as facilitate learning, development, and career growth. 

“Feeding that real-time work tech data into HR’s analytics could help the HR team immensely, from improving employee experience to more accurate assessments of employee performance and collaboration,” she adds.

“It could also reduce the burden on HR tech to update their UI/UX, and rather, focus on building great plumbing and connective tissue on the backend. With employees’ demand that HR tech has the same ease of use and intuitiveness as the apps on their phone, work tech giants are (generally) way ahead of HR tech.”

Summers adds that the human capital management (HCM) industry isn’t standing still, though. She says: “It [HCM] has been on the move as well, on a trajectory or expansion towards employee experience technology with SAP’s purchase of Qualtrics, Workday’s Peakon, Microsoft’s Glint, the whole advent of learning experience platforms and HR tech’s flirtation with the ‘talent experience’ category and messaging in 2019. The battle for who ‘runs the world of work’ is not yet won.”

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