Team Zalaris

How You Can Change the Company with Payroll in the Cloud

Earlier this week, a survey of employers in 44 countries around the world by ManpowerGroup revealed that 87 percent plan to increase or maintain their employee headcount in 2019 due to automation. This is the third straight year the survey has revealed record highs in this category. The digital transformation isn’t endangering employees; it’s emboldening them.

Where does HR come in? The same study found that 84 percent of companies plan to upskill their workforce by 2020. With greater technological and digital capability across the board, the importance of separating yourself through your unique workforce has become more essential than ever. You must create a culture of innovation.

This is where HR will play an essential role — in educating, training and enabling employees to do more (and more of different things). They won’t just run the company. They’ll change the company. Payroll in the cloud, with full compliance, lower cost and a coherent employee experience, will create peace of mind allowing HR to refocus on what really matters: the future of work.

Many companies are still stuck in the status quo: HR professionals are bogged down by administrative tasks, regulatory reporting and burdensome compliance responsibilities. As the rush of digital transformation approaches, compliance needs increase amidst a system landscape that is outdated, fragmented and costly. The race to the cloud is on, and it starts with payroll.  Start with the core and aim agile!

Enable HR to Run HR Better

With 50 percent of HCM licensing now in the cloud, we expect a renewed focus on payroll BPO in the cloud. It’s the natural next step in HR’s transformation, doable within 12 months of go-live with global HCM such as Workday, Oracle and SAP SuccessFactors

Payroll in the cloud is key to enabling change in the organization. By utilizing BPO across many countries, companies can unlock many key benefits that will push employees to make a real difference. This journey takes place on four levels, or tiers, depending on the degree of investment and HR’s appetite to truly change the company to face disruption, stay in business, maintain a healthy cashflow as an attractive employer.


Figure (above): A conceptual approach to clarifying our four-tier value promise and managing mutual expectations (Credit: Zalaris)

Any lasting strategic relationship — like any lasting marriage — is built on a solid foundation of trust. From a trust level, we must engage more and more in mutual dependency and co-success to empower our clients to meet business needs — or envision the next digital release of themselves, including their own disruptions and innovations. Think:

  • 40 to 50 percent of large payroll outsourcing clients want to engage with their vendor to benefit from automation (HorsesForSources)
  • 25 percent of the same want to use the extended capability for their trusted partners’ strategic advisory services (Everest Group)
  • 85 percent of large companies still lack a proper HR dashboard (Deloitte)

So much to do, so little time. The world is headed toward the cloud, and there’s no turning back. Again, HR is leading the way. Payroll in the cloud is lower cost, higher quality, more secure and fully compliant, leading to digitalized processes and one ultimate truth. CFOs and CIOs stuck with fragmented and complex on-premise systems need to catch up. Keep in mind: It’s not all about technology. It’s about people and their overall experience of being employed.

As you embark on your cloud journey, HR professionals will increasingly be able to focus on strategic value and shift the employee vision from process to experience. HR’s value will become unmistakable and irreplaceable as the mission to close the productivity gap takes flight.

Enable Enterprise-Wide Evolution

Technology can take on more than ever, from recruiting to hiring to personnel data management to employee benefits processing, and a cultural change is necessary to carve out a space in this new reality.

HR must understand that its sustained competitiveness is not about payroll systems or compliance reporting; it’s about focusing on company-changing efforts, such as driving innovation, improving workforce experience and capability, and fulfilling business need.

Above all, again, effective and strategic HR comes down to valuing people. All our customers have demonstrated a commitment to this aspiration, and we embrace and support the sentiment across everything we do at Zalaris. We take pride in tackling challenges of designing, developing and implementing new integrated solutions that will enable you to thrive and capitalize as well.

As an HR professional in a large, established company, ask yourself:

  1. What are you doing right now to close the productivity gap from disruption?
  2. What is your appetite for change: run the company better or change the company?
  3. If payroll is not part of your company’s core business model differentiator, why hesitate to start the journey to the cloud?
  4. Do you agree that the myths around payroll in the clouds are busted? After all, Zalaris today provide multi-country BPO services from the cloud across all highly regulated industries, including public, across Europe, including Germany as well as UK.

The business disruption is here. Margins are squeezed. Thirty to forty percent of major revenue streams are in jeopardy. We’ve been providing payroll services for nearly 20 years and have repeatedly been named one of the top BPO providers in Europe. We would be thrilled to gain your trust; engage with you; empower you; envision the necessary change via HR to drive overall business productivity.


Alexander’s responsibilities at Zalaris focus on implementing SAP HCM  / SuccessFactors in Zalaris managed cloud for new and existing customers in Central Eastern Europe and the Nordic region. He also serves as the vice president of HR BPO for Zalaris. Alexander joined the company in 2007.

A Workshop on Leveraging Digital Disruption for the Enterprise

A #TeamZalaris reflection from Dr. Stephanie L. Woerner’s session at Epicenter Stockholm

Zalaris and Aino Health share a passion for closing the productivity gap from disruption via human resources. HR has an opportunity to drive company culture by truly understanding the expectations and transformation so many companies are forced to undergo in order to attract, retain and set up the rules for lifelong learning.

The two companies seized an opportunity from Digoshen to host an exclusive evening recently from their joint C-level ecosystem, featuring a rising star in digital disruption: Dr. Stephanie L. Woerner from MIT. Zalaris host Sven Hultin took the liberty of sharing his thoughts and observations from the event regarding the expectations of HR and what’s needed to continue engaging staff and making the enterprise shine in the process.


Pictured (left to right): Johan Strömberg from Aino Health, Dr. Stephanie L. Woerner from MIT and Sven Hultin from Zalaris


It’s not often you are able to absorb thought leadership directly from the source, face to face. That’s why it was a true pleasure to co-host with Dr. Stephanie Woerner at Epicenter Stockholm on 26 November.

Dr. Woerner introduced herself through the framework of her thoroughly researched book with MIT colleague Peter Weill on approaching digital disruption, “What is Your Digital Business Model?” She encouraged all participants to use this framework, toolkit and its benchmarks to set the disruption agenda from the top — in the board room with the executive team. Why should they care? How engaged are they? How do you best manage the current digital disruption? How do you protect your current revenue streams? How do you capture others? What does “good” look like?


Pictured: Dr. Woerner elaborating on the importance of employee experience


If you think you know the full impact of the widening productivity gap between what’s possible and expected today versus what your current performance actually shows, you’re likely not fully informed or accountable — unless you are a “disruptive” company or startup yourself. That’s why it was a perfect time symbolically to run this ad-hoc workshop at Epicenter Stockholm, one of many startup hotspots in one of the most innovative countries in the world.

The Threat is Immediate

“Large companies (>$7B USD) risk losing 46% of their existing revenues streams from disruption,” Dr. Woerner started. Read that again. Do you still feel safe? Do you have everything under control? There are many reasons to feel alarmed.

Dr. Woerner did not share data for non-profit or public institutions, but, personally, I believe these lost revenue streams do mirror similarly large and significant lost capabilities to deliver better public service at existing tax levels (assuming we can re-skill the obsolete workforce to focus on currently ignored human-intensive transactions and let the robots do the time-consuming, back-office stuff). At lower levels, we’d all rather talk to a robot than wait on the phone for someone that is doing repetitive admin work. Disruption represents the opportunity of a lifetime to strengthen public service. That must be good, no?

The Only Suitable Option is to Tag Along and Join the Party

Close the gap by mastering the target digital version of yourself! Grow from there!

Dr. Woerner and her co-author identified four generic digital business models (see below) that also represent different levels of risk, control, customer insight and natural returns. Big companies have a tendency to aim for Ecosystem Driver status, where the returns — as well as the risks — are higher. The task for the corporate champions will be to identify how to excel in one of these four, to leverage content, strengthen infrastructure and maximise overall potential customer experience.

How do you connect with your end clients and employees and leverage that relationship with supporting data? How do you build new capabilities whilst driving overall transformation from the top?

All these tasks seem to point toward the role representing the total workforce — HR.


Pictured: The four generic digital business models


Cui bono?

If companies continue to focus on running the company with high efficiency at low cost, high compliance, impeccable quality and the accountability to adapt will likely die. We’ve seen this already as profits diminish with revenue streams at stake. We all know controlled change management is the worse business case — the cost of not doing — but it is more vital than ever. Every role in the company is impacted. The executive team. Every employee. Partners. Customers.

Experience is everything

Companies face the same challenge with their clients as HR does for employees. Clients and employees today expect an integrated and compelling experience across countries, products, processes and interactions. The benefits are huge if you succeed. The punishment is very harsh if you fail. Dr. Woerner highlighted her research’s estimated benefits for top performers. In the end, it’s not about technology. It’s about people. If there is anything HR is capable of, it’s cognitive. It’s about employees and clients.

“Employees First, Customers Second” – Vineet Nayar, HCL Technologies



Someone, hopefully also HR, must step up and take accountability to change or co-build the foundation for a larger transformation. It must become a more digital-savvy, networked job environment conducive to collaborative behaviour, with a supportive culture and dedicated budget and framework (not hidden in OpEx) for innovation.  We must be agile and never lose touch with this innovation.

“Top-performing digitally transformed companies spend as much as 25% of their revenue on innovation.” – Dr. Woerner

The bad news, according to research and a quick vote at our event, is that barely half of the executive team are typically actively driving this agenda.

The CIO seems to be the role best fit for cross-functional transformation projects. However, our view is that the CHRO, who would logically represent the journey into new capabilities for the total workforce, should be seen as the leader in closing the disruption gap. They’re not — yet. They hopefully will. This is a surprising insight, because in the end, it’s not about technology. It’s about people.

Hear! We now, more than ever, need leadership that sets cross-company directions and creates a working environment that attracts, supports and prepares employees to perform their best every day in a fun, innovative and motivating culture. This leadership should also be prepared to revisit the company business model and how it makes money, in an increasingly agile manner correlating with the never-ending journey toward the next digital version of yourself. This sets the foundation for profitable growth and new business models. If this is not prioritised by HR, we have some serious challenges coming around the corner soon. Will the current major investments in Robotics and Automation really pay off without support from a strong HR discipline?

What leadership role will be the champion?


Pictured: Non-statistical indicative AI assessment on CxO engagement from workshop


Call to Action!

Dr. Woerner’s book, thought leadership and framework provides a powerful toolkit for large companies looking to become a better digital version of themselves, from self-assessment to benchmarking. Use the questions. Build your own change awareness and change readiness baselines, across the leadership team and across the board. Discuss your current business model and your future digital one.

Take it from there!

  • If you’re hesitant on how to best run and/or change your company via HR to close the productivity gap, reach out to me and Zalaris.
  • If you want to control and leverage the true reasons for sick leave and absence during this major digital disruption shift and what it means for lost productivity, reach out to Johan Strömberg and Aino Health.

Thank you, Dr. Woerner, for taking the time to share with those of us who came! Thank you, Johan Strömberg, Aino Health and Katy Caroan from Digoshen, for making this happen! Thank you to all the executives who took this opportunity to listen, vote and discuss!

Until next time…


Sven Hultin, Zalaris Group Advisory, Storytelling & Engagement

His responsibilities at Zalaris focus on the company’s total value promise and go-to-market story designed to show the importance of partnering with HR through the entire journey. He also manages Zalaris’ global advisory relationships. Sven joined the company in 2014.

Reach him on LinkedIn@klingerii, or by phone at +46-72 544 42 61. E-mail at

Value People — and Their Facial Hair!

Maybe the handlebar moustache is worth a try. Perhaps the Chevron? If someone’s feeling lucky, maybe they can even take a shot at the imperial.

No matter — regardless of the type of moustache Zalaris employees attempt to grow this November, it will be for a great cause. That’s because for the fourth consecutive year, we are encouraging our employees to grow out their facial hair in support of Men’s Health Awareness Month.

“We want to increase attention for important men’s health issues, with a special focus this month on prostate cancer and mental health,” said Zalaris CEO and founder Hans-Petter Mellerud. “Prostate cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer death among men worldwide, and as we’ve seen in recent years, the importance of mental health is something that deserves much greater attention. Our established infrastructure in the Nordics and throughout Europe gives us a strong foundation to build support for these causes.”

This year, Zalaris UK (acquired in 2017 as ROC Group) will be joining in on the fun, asking its employees to grow out their Movember moustaches and participate in the global initiative. People are encouraged to share their look on social media, where you can find us at @Zalaris, @Zalaris_UKI and on Facebook @ZalarisASA.

This is nothing new for us at Zalaris. We have made valuing people part of our mission in everything we do, and we encourage our employees to live out the same ideals.

Earlier this year, AKTIV Against Cancer, a partner of ours since 2007, challenged Hans-Petter Mellerud to participate in one of the world’s most difficult triathlons — the Isklar Norseman Xtreme Triathlon, a 3.8-km swim, 180-km bicycle ride over a mountain and a marathon on the tallest mountain in Norway.

He accepted with the goal of raising awareness for AKTIV’s mission — encouraging physical activity for cancer patients. Mellerud didn’t just participate. He excelled, finishing eighth overall in the White Group and logging the fastest cycling time in his tier.

His journey simultaneously helped boost our annual fundraiser for AKTIV, which raised more than 20,000 euros this year. In partnership with AKTIV, Zalaris has raised more than 175,000 euros since 2014.

“‘Value people’ is not just a slogan for us,” Mellerud said. “It’s something we live out in each action we take as a company. Our commitment to AKTIV and devotion to employee fitness, health and well-being proves that.”

So, tell us, what kind of moustache have you grown this month? Or if you haven’t, then you could get some inspiration from Team Zalaris and continue supporting Movember through next month.

Pictures of Team Zalaris for Movember


SAP SuccessFactors Q4 2018: The Zalaris Review

SAP SuccessFactors Q4 updates are now available in your Preview environment and as always #TeamZalaris has reviewed each module in the SAP HCM Cloud suite of SAP SuccessFactors applications and published them in a series of blogs.

This Q4 series have been split into 5 main parts, each containing articles offering reviews and additional insights on a different module from SAP SuccessFactors.

So without further delay, lets dive into the Q4 blogpost series and get informed on the improved systems SAP SuccessFactors has to offer.





Part 1: Compensation & Variable Pay + EC Payroll, Time & Benefits

Part 2: Employee Central + Employee Central Service Centre

Part 3: Recruiting + Onboarding + Employee Central Integration

Part 4: SuccessFactors Mobile + Succession & Development and Calibration +Performance and Goals, 360, CPM

Part 5: SAP Jam + Platform, Report & Analytics and Integration



If you are interested to know more or want to be notified on the next series of quarterly SAP SuccessFactors updates, then please register to our mailing list or reach out to us via email.


Stephen Burr is responsible for the successful delivery of HCM consulting projects by the Zalaris HCM Consulting Team in the UK & Ireland. Having originally joined ROC in 1998, Stephen transferred to Zalaris following the company’s acquisition of ROC in 2017.

How HR Outsourcing Can — And Will — Transform the BFSI Landscape

You need to be attractive.

I’m not talking about some beauty contest or gimmick. I’m talking about making employees want to come work for you — to be drawn to what your company has to offer, including your ethics and values.

You know how things are. Business is more competitive than ever, technology is evolving rapidly every day, and finding the right workers to reach your goals is a challenge.

With an entire generation set to retire in the next few years, it’s imperative that you start working on yourself now. The never-ending quest to attract and retain talent depends on it.

Finding the right people with the right skills at the right cost matters in every industry, but at present, it is of particular prevalence in the banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) sector. This is because of rising threats, evolving compliance risks and increasing security vulnerabilities. The ability to respond quickly is crucial.

For instance, 60 percent of banking executives told Deloitte their organization is focused on developing digital talent and driving continuous learning via opportunities across the organization. Developing, reskilling and aligning your total workforce is and will be essential to keeping up with the digital transformation.

More than ever, BFSI companies are turning to HR outsourcing to make a difference in this talent pursuit. HR outsourcing can help intensify the enterprise’s focus on core business functions and strategies while simultaneously collecting, growing and retaining talent throughout the organization. In fact, one of Zalaris’ largest HR implementations this year was for a banking institution.

So why are some in the BFSI sector looking to HR outsourcing to tackle today’s biggest challenges? Let me lay out some of the advantages.

Employing the Expanding External Workforce

The contingent workforce represents about 40 to 50 percent of the total workforce, a trend driven by an exciting new generation looking to apply their talents by jumping from one project to the next. They don’t expect lifetime employment anywhere, and they don’t want to get caught behind the times technologically or culturally by being stuck with a single company. They are often out accumulating strategic skills while those in the internal workforce — mostly in BFSI IT — are battling legacy back-end systems.

These people offer a clear opportunity for managers, and many are beginning to take notice. Oxford Economics found that 65 percent of executives believe external workers are critical to operating at full capacity and meeting market demands. Forty-six percent said they would be unable to conduct business as usual without the external workforce.

The challenge is that procurement, not HR, is in control of this increasingly important part of the workforce. HR, in partnership with CPOs and CFOs, must take control over the total workforce and ensure everyone meets the same requirements to do their jobs, on cultural, educational and deeply committal levels.

Owning Onboarding

The onboarding process can often be overlooked in a modern business enterprise. With busy hiring managers and constant change in many companies, it can leave employees feeling anxious and unappreciated quite rapidly. This can cause lower engagement, longer time to productivity and higher turnover. Guidance from a HR consultancy specialist can make this piece of strategic talent management much easier to deal with going forward.

An HR outsourcing expert can help connect new hires with the right people and relevant content before they start, enabling higher individual productivity faster with quantifiable results. In the competitive BFSI world, this offers a potential leg up — while building a foundation for a longer-term workforce, whether internal or external.

 Strengthening Security and Calming Compliance Concerns

Modern human resource functions are also rightfully concerned with compliance necessities, which are built right into the process for a proper HR outsourcing solution. An effective outsourcing partner will make sure there is no question about what was signed and when, a critical step in today’s time of evolving compliance and security concerns. HR experts like Zalaris make it our business to know and address all aspects of secure and compliant human capital management for your entire workforce, wherever your business may operate.

Take GDPR, for instance. We have dedicated our energy to ensuring the privacy lifecycle can be properly managed for employees throughout the client’s workforce ecosystem. Proper management means stronger alignment across the organization in managing HR data and the workforce effectively. Without having to worry about related privacy issues, companies can turn to core business objectives to boost bottom lines throughout the enterprise.

This is where it all comes together.

Supporting Strategic Advantages and Cutting Total Workforce Costs

The greatest benefit of outsourcing HR services is the ability to focus on what you do best. And thanks to modern dashboards and HR analytics as well as simplified compliance management, managing HR will also be easier than ever.

For BFSI companies formulating their talent strategy, HR outsourcing provides another key benefit, reducing costs with streamlined HR operations and more efficient employee management. Enterprises can get ahead where it matters most.

The cloud is an integral piece of this HR puzzle, a journey you must take before you can transform your enterprise into one that will consistently attract and retain workers.

When it comes down to it, though, HR is all about valuing your people, including the growing number that work for you externally. There is too much at stake to lose focus on making sure your people are productive and competitively compensated. This is a commitment we understand and live out every day at Zalaris, and our solutions and services exemplify that.

We want to help you transform into the digital version of yourself, where you manage the total workforce. From cloud to compliance to clarity to capabilities, everyone should be aligned in the spirit of your company culture.

So, what does this all mean? What’s your next step? I’d be glad to talk with you about it. Call me — I’m here to help!


Michael Scollon is the HR Technology Sales Lead for Zalaris in northern Europe. He focuses on helping enterprises reduce costs while optimizing their HR and payroll functions. He joined the company in 2017.

On Digital Dexterity, Everyday AI and the End of Humanity

— My reflections from the Gartner Digital Workplace Symposium 2018 in London 

“Something was not right. After the symposium’s final keynote speech, while leaving Waterloo — facing Big Ben and the setting sun — I was crossing Westminster Bridge on the north side and came face to face with crowds of kids. In order to avoid having to plough through them, I crossed the street (looking left, of course, and nearly killing myself in the process). Once on the south side of the bridge, I found myself facing the entire refurnished Parliament building and the glamorous Big Ben under restoration. THE Big Ben! Oh, how magical it was to see Big Ben IRL for the first time! Tick that off my premature teenage Bucket List. I snapped a ridiculous selfie with the famous landmark halfway across the bridge behind me — a selfie I deleted moments later and have replaced with the free Pixabay one below since my daughter hates my selfies anyway…


…On the tarpaulin in front of me I read that Big Ben has 239 steps. 239! That many? Wow! I crossed Westminster Bridge again, looked left again, and almost killed myself in the process again when I heard an ambitious two- or three-foot tall kid running up from the Metro station with his entourage screaming: “There it is! THERE! See it?? “The Eye! T-H-E EYYYE!! C’mon! RUUUUNNN!!!”

…Running…Shirt & tie flapping out of sync…

I turned around, facing the big wheel I had left only minutes before, puzzled, bags-in-hand posture like Michael Douglas in “Falling Down,” realizing…behind me, Big Ben, 239 steps, policemen…where history was created. The Old HR as we know it. In front of me, the next generation: cafés, experience, excitement, entertainers, wedding pictures, the Eye, the future, where magic will happen.

Behind me? Gartner and all their “CIO clients” at the symposium, frantically running across the bridge. In front of me? HR & cloud HR, still not taking the lead on stage, showing the way…Why?

…Now, hold that thought for a moment! I promised to share my takeaways from this event in “Three Reasons Why Zalaris Will Join the Gartner Digital Workplace Symposium in London.”

So that’s where this brings me. The symposium was great from a content perspective. Gartner rocks there. However, it was a big eye-opener for me on how it was delivered — by whom and for whom.

1. We Must Build Digital Dexterity

“Digital dexterity is the ambition and ability to apply technology to improve business outcomes in order to drive digital transformation.” — Gartner

I don’t think “dexterity” will survive outside UK, if at all. Replace it with “savviness.” That’s crisper and hipper — what you expect from a digital nomad that does not work in the office but from where he or she is, collaborating globally. Dexterity is a tough and stiff word (like dyslexia is a humiliating word for people who use it, if you ask me…which you didn’t, but I told you anyway).

Let Big Ben represent compliance and process-centric, as-is, rigid HR, which, as we know, is being restored. As a matter of fact, cloud HR has reached the tipping point from a license perspective. Great news. HR is currently settling on the Waterloo side, pondering over the next thousands of agile releases in their ever-turning wheels of reinvention, whereas CFOs and the CIOs are still battling by the foot of Big Ben’s 239 steps. Hard stop.

Let the London Eye represent an organisation that’s increasingly focused on employee experience, engagement and contribution capabilities, one that leverages the benefits of a role-based networked organisation.

If so, the Gartner Digital Workplace would typically represent the bridge between these two realities, a connecting bridge we all must cross to close any increasing productivity gap between what is possible and what we currently leverage from the digital version of ourselves, working side by side with peers, externals and a growing digital workforce. The survival of the fittest companies.

HR is getting there but still does need to transform many organisations — not only their processes — and capture data that was not captured before. Crossing the bridge was just the start. Hearing Gartner and their CIO entourage communicate that we need to “build a digital workplace” feels like kicking in open doors. It’s not about technology. It’s about people, emotions, innovation, collective learning.

So…who should take the lead for digital “savviness”?

Gartner claims “digital dexterity” is the ambition and ability to to build a digital business while also working digitally. Like my hipster friend. Like me. One should, and I quote from one of Gartner’s excellent reports…

  1. Use a digital workplace initiative to drive long-term cultural change in the workplace.
  2. Focus on key moments in the employee experience where cultural values are paramount, such as employee onboarding.
  3. Exploit short- and long-term planning to maximize the impact of cultural change in the digital
  4. Make the connection between the physical workplace and cultural change.

…How should we build that bridge? How do we make our staff cross it and love it?

You’d think HR would own and set the scene for such an organisational change and its design criteria for an agile digital workplace. Not really. I hardly came across any HR or genuine HR perspective. CIOs overshadowed HR here with their toolboxes, how to use embedded analytics, and so on.

I am not critical. The axe is sharp. It can be deadly and useful. But why spend so much time talking about the axe itself rather than focusing on what to use it for and why?

The Gartner overall business model is 70 percent about technology selection and 30 percent about its implementation, I learned in the VIP session. The two-day digital workplace symposium reflected this revenue stream in words, titles and sponsors, with a general heritage CIOs mindset of technology selection, its implementation and featuring (thank you) good elaborations on the mastery of aspired behaviour-related critical success factors around digital savviness from Gartner’s Claire Moncrieff (ex-CEB). Some of the things she covered:

  • We need networked leaders (yes, to survive in a de-centralised, role-based network)
  • We need a connecting manager (yes, to enable collaboration and collective innovation)
  • We need staff who embrace new technology (yes, not just because, but because it is possible)

Our learning consumption will also change as smarter automation replaces adequate tasks:

  • 37% of the skills employees use today were learned in the last year!
  • 66% of employees expect to learn and develop just in time!

Just these five insights are compelling enough to call for an assessment of your organisational fit within current challenges. It’s about people and change. For any classic, cost-oriented HR practitioner who is cognitive by design, this is not news. This is what HR wants to do and should do, but many times does not dare to do, lacking support and investments, stuck with restoring their Big Ben stuff.

Technology is not providing something new, per se. HR can finally get what they have been missing for years. CRM, SCM, ERP and finance has been transformed radically over the last three decades, but HR is still stuck with compliance reporting.

Now it’s HRs turn, and HR is actually leading the race to the cloud! It’s as if the CIOs of the world are finally catching up with the realities of cloud-based HR. Cloud HR licensing has reached the tipping point and now exceeds on-premise HR.

I believe we can expect both the CIOs and CFOs to do even more in future HR transformation projects, reinventing what HR already knows. It does not change the fact that CHROs should own this, from process to employee experience.

My view: HR is already there in the cloud. We have crossed the bridge of no return. CFOs and CIOs are stuck with their on-premise system and obviously need to catch up or defend their historical power. But I hope HR’s focus will change the digital workplace in terms of ambition and capability. They hire for attitude and train for skills. That is not a technology or CIO discussion, even though the CIO has major challenges amidst the transformation of their own organisation when we cross the bridge.

HR is the one facing these changes fastest. Or should, at least. However, we all need to become more digitally “savvy.”

2. Embrace Everyday AI

Yup. If you can’t beat it, join it. The future is clearly on the Eye side and not the Big Ben side.

Will the productivity gap reflect the polarisation gap in the world? Gartner showed the “Match of the Century” when Lee Sedol was almost fully beaten by Alpha Go in Go. Beware of God’s move 78.  The end of humanity as we know it is close.

Go is the most complex game in history. Winning is about creativity and intuition. It’s true reflection of life. If AI can beat humans in Go, we may be nearing our expiration date. Scary? Suck it up! It’s time to embrace everyday AI. Denial is not the way forward — acceptance and adapting is.

 Through 2022, few jobs are fully replaceable, but most occupations will have at least some activities augmented by AI; most AI technologies will be embedded in broader products rather than assembled or created from scratch.” — Gartner

With a relaxed and smiling Matt Damon-like performance, Adam Preset walked us from prediction of horror to acceptance of everyday AI. Great pitch. We can’t stop it. It will come. So why wait? You can and should do something, learn something and discover something on a daily basis with what you already have.

AI will not come as an evil robot with fierce eyes and useless teeth, representing the worst version of ourselves. AI will come as an algorithm and (hopefully) be something you can reason with. Remember, it can beat you in Go, so it probably knows better what food is better for you.

I liked Adam’s approach, too, because you need to become someone that is able to co-work with a digital workforce — like Siri, Alexa, or your personal Watson/Henry. Try out voice recognition, digital assistants and embedded bots. Everyone should have one. The capacity is there already.

His message was plain, though. Don’t fret. Start small. Augment over time. Learn from your kids.

Helen Poitevin also reinforced the same message, referencing her — and one of my favorite — recent Gartner document, “Future of Work Scenarios 2035.”

Scenario planning is a useful exercise for outlining general direction as well as indicators of necessary immediate actions for an uncertain future. This approach must be relevant for any company to lay out their own AI roadmap pragmatically and start embracing benefits and mitigating risks from AI. At least have a structured discussion about any unknowns in order to make informed decisions.

Since this is about employees — the total workforce, external and internal — one would think HR again should own this future clarity on digital savviness working side by side with toothless algorithms. After all, 50 percent of HRs baseline workforce will be external in a couple of years and 20 percent of the manual tasks will be automated. That leaves 40 percent of the current baseline workforce that you will retain.

“Who are the 40 percent? What are you doing to retain them? What are you doing with the CPO, with the other 40 percent, and the CIO with the rest? Will you let the external workforce accumulate all strategic skills?” — Here I actually quote myself, Sven Hultin, just because I can (great fun)

 The scenario planning from Gartner follows the two dimensions for demand & supply outlined by BP in the 70s, which is the normal and useful approach. Here, they considered the impact of AI, the gig economy, emerging business models, evolving skills needs, and the level of inclusiveness. The factors are:

  • Demand: Will people reject or accept Machines?


  • Supply: Will technology have strong/broad or weak/narrow capabilities?

It leaves the reader with four scenarios, good, semi-good, bad and really bad, including the scary-teeth versions of ourselves. Gartner names this scenario the “Minibot Proliferation”: I’d rather have a bot do it/Bots can’t drive/Bots have gone bad.

I recommended any Gartner client go read and do the exercise.

3. Buying CEB was the best thing Gartner has done recently

Gartner research is comprehensive and succinct, but it is still not aligned with the emerging buying process of services and compelling experiences. At Zalaris, we have been HR pioneers in the cloud, with steady growth since our founding in 2000. We sell a service.

I still hear uninformed, smaller advisors saying it’s not possible to do what we do. Gartner doesn’t really target our clients since they’re looking for a service provider, and not a system, even though that is where the emerging market is.

Having said that, Gartner and CIOs around the world — their historical key targets — need to speed up their own value proposition with a growing revenue contribution from cloud-based service providers and related implementation increases. Gartner’s acquisition of CEB 2017 makes a lot of sense because of this. I realise now I should have gone to the ReimagineHR event instead, hosted by CEB, as it is more aligned to HR and the other LoB that must cross the bridge with CIOs in the coming years. Bummer.

The Bottom Line?

I do value Gartner’s insights and contribution to Zalaris’ overall direction and success. As an old advisor, taking selfies with Big Ben in the background that my daughter would hate, I must ask, though: Who is advising Gartner on their own value proposition and customer experience?

My reflection is, like any reflection, in the eye of the beholder. Like the kid in Westminster, I came running for the Eye but ended around Big Ben.

Please reach out to me to continue the dialogue on HR’s continued transformation. I don’t care if you’re inside Big Ben, hesitating, or running across Westminster Bridge, or sitting still in one of the cabins on London Eye wondering, “Now what?” — Call me!

At minimum, we can tell you what not to do as a trusted advisor. We started 18 years ago. We’ve been on your journey.


Sven’s responsibilities at Zalaris focus on value creation and go-to-market strategy for the company’s cloud HR/talent management business. He joined the company in 2014 and also manages Zalaris’ global advisory relationships. Reach him on LinkedIn, @klingerii, or by phone at +46-72 544 42 61. E-mail at


Industry 4.0 Premiers in HR Mission

When it comes to buzzwords, this one breaks all the box-office records.

Even if you’re not familiar with the Industry 4.0 label, what it encompasses likely weighs heavily on your mind and is hopefully gaining traction in your enterprise. Suffice it to say, the business world is afire – or some may say under assault – as multiple i4.0 subplots converge and collide: mobility, analytics, cloud computing, automation, artificial intelligence, robotics and the Internet of Things, to name a few of the stars.

It’s like an adventure movie through “cyber-physical systems” that never stops unfolding.

You’re probably familiar with preludes such as the Industrial Revolution, when water and steam mechanized production. Electric power debuted next. The Digital Revolution, which has already riveted everyone for years, is segueing into an i4.0 blockbuster you can’t help but see emerging everywhere you look. And it’s just beginning, although it’s a lot easier said than done.

How will it end?
Most enterprise leaders struggle with everything that’s happening because all the “studios” producing the software, devices and ingenuity to make i4.0 breakthroughs possible didn’t exactly write a fool-proof script to make them work together. Nor would you expect them all to conspire behind the scenes and share trade secrets and innovations with a unifying purpose. That’s pure fantasy, of course.

Your company’s i4.0 success depends on an unprecedented level of vision and methodology.

I suggest a short intermission. Forget the hype and clichés. Catch your breath. This perpetual-motion picture won’t be ending in our lifetimes.

One of the most intriguing plot twists centers on the HR function. In a sense, this shouldn’t be a surprise that the area concentrating on your people serves as the main story line. They are the audience, and your success in this i4.0-manic society depends on your management and staff making better, faster decisions while getting more efficient access to reliable information.

Turn up the lights
Before going on with the show, it’s time to seriously assess where you’re at – and if you have an overarching i4.0 strategy in place. Keep in mind that the systems you deploy, whether ascending in the cloud or traveling on the road, will have profound HR implications. In fact, the narrative should literally emanate from your people to the customers you serve and partners that help set the stage.

Mobility has shifted into high gear, from choice to imperative. Legacy solutions likely ran their course long before you could think about altering them. Security challenges have grown epically in scale. Sophisticated analytics enable deep meaningful dives into data previously shuttered in darkness. Factors like these will make or break your business, and past revolutions should fuel your i4.0 motivation.

Being left behind in the wake of i4.0 advances will have disastrous consequences. Customers will ultimately head for the exits if you can’t keep up with fast-evolving related demands.

Although it’s not as simple as flipping a switch, you should consider all that i4.0 entails to illuminate comprehensive strategic direction. It also wouldn’t hurt to have at your side the guidance and perspective of a multi-industry expert in cross-border human capital management solutions. HCM should be a fundamental platform for your company’s i4.0 future.

Rolling, speed…ACTION!
For most anyone at the helm of a large or midsize company, i4.0 looks more like a daunting cliffhanger than a sure bet. In a way, it’s planning for the unexpected by establishing a cost-effective long-term means of dealing with the innovations of today as well as tomorrow.

Most critics agree that outsourced HR solutions are a big part of the answer. Among many reasons is the commensurate ability for your company to focus more sharply on core competencies, with internal HR resources devoted to the most strategic aspects of people, processes and productivity development. You naturally want all these elements to harmonize as i4.0 accelerates in your environment as well as in the competitive landscape.

We welcome the opportunity to have a lead role in the i4.0 undertaking with you. After nearly 20 years specializing in outsourced HR and payroll solutions, Zalaris’ experience and partnerships can put your i4.0 future on an ideal course. We’ll help you separate the facts from fiction – and deliver on budget as well as on time.

Give us a call, and we’ll come audition for you!


Ingrīda Štālberga is the Country Manager for Baltics at Zalaris. She is in charge of local service deliveries in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, as well as nearshore organization across all Scandinavian countries. She joined the company in 2008.

Here’s What You Need to Know About the SAP SuccessFactors Q3 Updates

The gig economy. Analytics. Design thinking. At Zalaris, we understand better than anyone that navigating the digital transformation journey is the key to the future success of your business.

That means enabling and empowering your people with modern tools to unleash their full potential. That means SAP SuccessFactors, the integrated, cloud-based HR software that helps streamline global HR processes and take advantage of today’s innovations with respect to your workforce.

Last month, SAP rolled out their quarterly improvements to the SAP SuccessFactors HCM suite in a series of announcements. As a partner of SAP for nearly 20 years, we used our expertise in HR best practices to dive deep on the latest changes and study how they will affect you.

In fact, our team broke down the updates in-depth through a series of blog posts, offering full reviews, additional insights and bonus materials related to the release.

This Q3 release certainly called for the red-carpet treatment. It contained more changes overall than each of the previous two quarters and included a higher proportion of changes (50%) than before that require user action.

SAP is working to upgrade SAP SuccessFactors in many ways, from improving systems for end users and administrators to creating new functionality in the suite’s foundation to enabling a more rapid return on investment from your most flexible resources.

Throughout our blog series, Zalaris’ HR specialists discussed specific new updates to the suite, including:

  • Wider SAP product capability
  • Improvements and design changes in the Android app
  • HCM module platform rationalisation
  • Fiori design improvements
  • New Visa and Permits Management application built on SAP Cloud Platform and integrated with Employee Central

Our UK Insights page has nearly 13,000 words of content on the subject split into five parts, so go check it out if you want to stay up to date on all the changes to SAP SuccessFactors.

Remember, while the series is over, this is just the beginning. If you are interested in SAP SuccessFactors, please reach out to us via our contact page or by email. We look forward to sharing our expertise with you soon.


Stephen Burr is responsible for the successful delivery of HCM consulting projects by the Zalaris HCM Consulting Team in the UK & Ireland. Having originally joined ROC in 1998, Stephen transferred to Zalaris following the company’s acquisition of ROC in 2017.


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