Applications that support workforce analytics, e-learning and manager self- service will be the key drivers of human resource technology spending over the next three to five years, reports META Group Inc., a Stamford, Conn.-based research firm. The major HR spending focus over the last five years was the procurement of recruiting tools. It was driven in part by a low unemployment rate and scarcity of job seekers with key skills, META says. But firms are reacting to the changing employment market by giving more emphasis to managing and training their existing staff.

"As organizations increasingly focus on employee talent as a source of competitive advantage, we expect organizations in highly workforce-intensive market segments to invest in workforce management tools," says David Lindheimer, a senior program director with META's Application Delivery Strategies service. "While core HR management systems offer only partial support for workforce management, a wide array of best-of-breed vendors fills the gaps."

An inability of HR organizations to articulate value and return on investment is the primary obstacle to the growth of workforce management applications, META notes. In a survey of more than 450 information technology and HR executives, 28% of respondents indicated that their senior management does not yet appreciate the positive impact that strong workforce management can have on a company.

"Human resource organizations need to do a better job of articulating—and measuring—the connection between good workforce management and business performance," Lindheimer adds.

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