SAP's Mike Ettling on the future of cloud HR

Enterprise Applications

by Joe Curtis| 01 May 2014

CBR speaks to SAP's new HR tech head about workforce management.

ERP cloud giant SAP further signalled its cloud ambitions in March by hiring the former CEO of NGA Human Resources as its head of Cloud for HR.

Mike Ettling made a fast start, acquiring cloud-based workforce management firm Fieldglass in late March. With customers including American Airlines and VMWare, the company specialised in providing support for contingent labour workforces (temporary employees).

As it happens, that's one of Ettling's priorities, and the start of an interview with CBR in which he talks about everything from workforce management to LinkedIn and the to do list every HR director should have on his or her desk.

Let's start with the reasons behind the acquisition of Fieldglass

For HR departments to remain successful they need a comprehensive overview of both the permanent and contingent [temporary] labour workforce. This is due to contingent labour being the fastest growing labour segment - it's not only restricted to blue collar workers but is growing rapidly in the professional and executive ranks.

This is the reason why we announced the intent to acquire Fieldglass, as it uniquely straddles our HR solutions and our procurement (Ariba) solutions, providing a service to our customers that is currently not offered by any other company.

HR leaders are able to gain a single view of the entire workforce and also enables companies to access many more talent pulls through driving the sourcing of the labour through our Ariba networks. This unique differentiation for our customers will not only enable better management of the workforce, but we will also give them access to more diverse talent pools and sourcing options for contingent labour.

How has HR's 'to do' list changed recently, and what do you see as the main challenges to come?

With five generations of workers to cater for now, HR departments have significant challenges to ensure all generations of the workforce are adequately engaged. The introduction of mobile working and social media policies are just a couple of examples of changes which have been introduced, driven by the demands of millennials [people born from the mid-1980s onwards].

One of the main challenges is to embrace and implement innovative technologies to automate old ways of recruiting, payroll, time tracking and expenses. Not only will this increase efficiency, but also engage the vast workforce we are now faced with. Companies need solutions that enable new processes to motivate and align employees with business goals to drive outcomes.

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