Companies Accelerating Adoption of Cloud-Based HR Platforms Amid Pandemic, ISG Survey Finds

Companies accelerated their move to HR SaaS platforms amid the pandemic and say adoption will continue to grow, a survey from ISG (Nasdaq: III) finds.

Companies Accelerating Adoption of Cloud-Based HR Platforms Amid Pandemic, ISG Survey Finds

Forty-six percent now using HR SaaS platforms, up from 20 percent two years ago

Study finds clear migration to outsourced or hybrid delivery models

March 31, 2021 10:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time



)–Companies have accelerated their move to cloud-based HR platforms amid the pandemic and say they are expecting adoption to grow in the coming years, a new survey from Information Services Group (


) (Nasdaq:


), a leading global technology research and advisory firm, finds.

The ISG survey of 260 companies worldwide found 46 percent using an HR Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform or hybrid solution, up from the 20 percent who said they were using a cloud-based solution two years ago. Looking to the future, the survey found 57 percent of organizations expect to be using a subscription-based SaaS or hybrid solution by 2023.

The findings were published today as part of the

2021 ISG Survey on Industry Trends in HR Technology and Service Delivery

report. Study co-author Stacey Cadigan, partner, ISG HR Technology, will discuss the findings today at 12 p.m., U.S. Eastern Time, during a webinar, “

Moving Forward: 2021 Industry Trends in HR Technology

,” hosted by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM).

“In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic changed work in unimaginable ways and put increased focus on the potential of HR SaaS technologies to better engage employees, support a virtual workforce, improve productivity and enable a more agile HR model,” said Cadigan. “Our survey reveals growing interest in HR SaaS, as more and more companies are realizing measurable business value from a platform-based approach.”

The survey found 64 percent of companies say they are achieving measurable business value from their investment in HR SaaS platforms, up 23 percentage points, or about 50 percent, since 2019, the last time ISG conducted the survey. Business value is determined by a range of metrics, including productivity, cost savings and employee retention.

Among the measures of business value, the survey found organizations achieving significant HR cost savings from their move to HR SaaS solutions, with 70 percent reporting savings of 10 percent or more, and 37 percent achieving savings of 20 percent or more.

“HR has been on the frontlines throughout the pandemic, one of the most stressful events in recent history,” said Deb Card, partner, ISG HR Technology, and co-author of the report. “HR technologies delivered value by enabling real-time, data-driven decision-making; fostering connections and collaboration among employees in a remote work environment; monitoring performance, productivity and engagement, and enabling virtual recruiting, onboarding and offboarding.”

Many leading SaaS HR solutions added COVID-specific functionality to comply with new payroll legislation, track COVID cases and help manage the return to work, Card noted.

The study found a strong correlation between an organization’s success at aligning its service delivery model and processes with its new HR platform and its ability to achieve business results.

Companies are fairly evenly split between their use of internal shared services and outsourcing delivery models, but the report shows a clear migration toward outsourcing since the 2019 and 2017 reports. Among the 11 HR functions analyzed, the greatest move toward outsourced or hybrid delivery models was in the areas of payroll and health and wellness benefits administration.

In the wake of the pandemic, the survey found nearly seven in 10 organizations expect a significant percentage of their employees (more than 20 percent) to work from home in 2022 and beyond, with the most common view that between 20 and 40 percent will work from home. This will necessitate greater investment in HR technology, tools and policies to support a long-term work-from-home strategy, ISG said.

“The COVID-19 pandemic refocused HR on the need for workforce planning data and analytics, including real-time data on absences and employee sentiment, as well as the ability to plan and execute furloughs and return-to-work events,” said Kelly Will, director, ISG HR Technology, and report co-author. “Almost 40 percent of organizations say they have been very successful in fostering a data-driven culture in HR, with an additional quarter of respondents describing themselves as moderately successful.”

Will said advancements in HR analytics are encouraging, but plenty of opportunity remains to leverage enterprise-wide HR metrics. “Using data to drive action requires a change management effort to build skills and habits, embed analytics into daily work and take advantage of new analytics capabilities,” she said.

The 260 companies surveyed for the

2021 ISG Survey on Industry Trends in HR Technology

and Service Delivery

report represent a cross-section of industries operating in key geographic regions around the world and range in size from 5,000 employees to more than 50,000 employees. The report tracks how market trends are evolving based on prior research and examines the maturity of organizations as they make their way along the digital transformation journey.

About ISG

ISG (Information Services Group) (Nasdaq:


) is a leading global technology research and advisory firm. A trusted business partner to more than 700 clients, including more than 75 of the world’s top 100 enterprises, ISG is committed to helping corporations, public sector organizations, and service and technology providers achieve operational excellence and faster growth. The firm specializes in digital transformation services, including automation, cloud and data analytics; sourcing advisory; managed governance and risk services; network carrier services; strategy and operations design; change management; market intelligence and technology research and analysis. Founded in 2006, and based in Stamford, Conn., ISG employs more than 1,300 digital-ready professionals operating in more than 20 countries—a global team known for its innovative thinking, market influence, deep industry and technology expertise, and world-class research and analytical capabilities based on the industry’s most comprehensive marketplace data. For more information, visit




Will Thoretz, ISG

+1 203 517 3119

Cait Buckley, Matter Communications for ISG

+1 617 874 5214

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