Making “sense”of it all

Insights from the Human Capital Provider Day 2018

Posted by Dave Smith on June 26, 2018.

Deloitte Consulting LLP recently concluded its 5th annual Human Capital Technology and Service Provider Day, duplicating the high levels of education and networking that have become associated with the event.

This year Provider Day enjoyed another great turnout with broad and deep representation of the HR ecosystem: more than 100 participants representing 33 unique service and technology providers across 11 HR competencies and representing more than $170B in annual product and service revenue. Highlights of the event included a review of Deloitte Consulting LLP’s 2018 Global Human Capital Trends report, a candid and insightful Buyer Panel discussion, and “Voice of the Buyer” insights based on Bersin™, Deloitte Consulting LLP research.

As with past years, themes emerged from the two days of presentations and conversations that underscore trends seen across Human Resources. Three provocative themes emerged this year, prompting considerations for “what’s next?”: How do we keep the conversation alive between Provider Day events? How can we work together as an ecosystem to help make sense of the business, workforce, and technology disruptions propelling our industry into the fast-approaching future of work?

Theme #1: Whose data is it anyway?
Of all of the topics that emerged from the conversation following Deloitte’s presentation of this year’s Global Human Capital Trends, probably the most hotly debated was around usage and ownership of worker data. Triggered by a trend finding that suggested the new Social Enterprise will be shaped by an increasing powerful voice of the individual, topic urgency has increased in light of recent news about misuse of user data.

Buyer attendees were admittedly perplexed about the implications of these recent developments. After having spent years collecting and cleansing worker data, improving analytical capabilities, and refining workforce and worker analytics use cases, it was now becoming increasingly evident that the social and statutory framework for even collecting and storing such data (never mind using it to make people-related decisions) or sharing it with ecosystem partners was fraught with uncertainty.

Probably the most provocative comment on the topic, offered by one large employer, was that while it had previously assumed the data in its HR systems was its own, leadership had recently come to the conclusion that, actually, the data belongs to its workers. The company had only just begun to explore the implications of that startling determination.

Theme #2: One size fits one, but the need for talent is universal
It was during the popular Buyer Panel that the event’s title theme of “one size fits one” came into focus. From the guest Buyer panelists’ framing of their top priorities to their coaching about how Providers should engage them, the consistent message was that they most valued partners who took the time to get to know them and their unique business and workforce issues.

Interestingly, each Buyer panelist also described organization and market disruptions that were driving the need for a new kind of talent, with different capabilities and competencies, who increasingly sought alternative work arrangements and tailored rewards packages that better meshed with their non-work life choices.

Representing industries ranging from construction engineering to power management to media and entertainment, our Buyer panelists described the intense talent wars for their most critical worker categories. They then put the service and technology Providers on notice that all solutions would be evaluated through this critical talent lens, and if Providers did not understand this, efforts to build a long-term partnership with the Buyer were unlikely to be successful.

Theme #3: “Coopetition” is alive and well
During the Buyer Panel, as well as in the HR technology strategy discussion, participants explored new business designs and go-to-market models. Our Deloitte leaders were impressed with the product strategies and road maps Providers shared with them during the one-on-one meetings, with conversations often leading to the consideration of innovative new partnership models.

While Buyer panelists cautioned Providers about presenting via partner networks, the primary message was that such partnerships should make things easier for the Buyer, not more complex. However, at least one Buyer panelist expressed the view that in the rewards and wellness domains, sophisticated provider networks were the only way to provide the more differentiated and tailored solutions demanded by the modern workforce.

It is inspiring to witness this explosion in creative partnerships between ecosystem participants—technology providers, consultants, and even employer organizations—to more effectively deal with the increasingly intractable issues of the market. And in the spirit of Provider Day, Deloitte sees it as part of our responsibility to help foster these arrangements for the collective benefit of our clients and the industry.

Call to action
Reflecting on our takeaways from this year’s Provider Day event, we came away with several resolutions for the upcoming year:

  • We need to better “sense “ the market in order to increase industry participant visibility into rapidly evolving topics such as data ownership, evolving Buyer expectations, and new go-to-market partnering models. Our action item here is to turbocharge our nascent market sensing service and invest as required to quickly bring this capability online.
  • Based on Buyer expectations for tailored approaches and solutions, it seems clear that there are huge opportunities for us to collaborate with Providers in ways not yet considered. We need to get a lot more creative in how we think about our deal-making, seeking more substantive and impactful ways to work together to address differentiated Buyer needs.
  • Our ability to host an event like Provider Day is an indication of our leadership role in the industry, the unique insight we have into the mind of the Buyer, as well as a deep understanding of Provider strategic intent. In the coming year we intend work more closely with Providers to help bridge the gap between Buyer expectations and Provider solutions at every phase of the product/service delivery life cycle.

Meanwhile, we look forward to Human Capital Technology and Service Provider Day 2019, planned for April 22 and 23, and ask you to add your Likes, Comments, and Shares to this posting!

Dave Smith is a principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP and a leader in the HR Operating Excellence practice. He helps clients develop operating models with bottom-line impact, in sync with the business at every turn.

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