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Dave Foxall Mobile Payroll: An Industry by Industry Review

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 By Dave Foxall

A Sector Analysis of Mobile Payroll Adoption

Mobile devices can be unsecure, unreliable, and expensive; but they are rapidly becoming absolutely essential to the business environment. In fact, Gary Butler, ADP President and CEO is quoted as saying, "Within the next two years, we're going to see businesses spending 35% of their IT budgets on mobile.” Although undoubtedly not all of that percentage will be spent on payroll applications, the fact is that with 66% of organizations globally either making payroll and benefits information available via mobile devices (or looking to do so in the next year), mobile payroll applications are a significant leap forward in both employee and manager self-service transaction functionality. As a Bloomberg BusinessWeek research report (Leaders and Laggards in Mobile HR Apps) states, “Companies that adopt mobile device access to enterprise applications for their workforce can improve employee productivity, increase managerial insight, and support better decision-making by their executives.” Interestingly enough though, the report goes on to say that, “Although some industries are moving faster than others, all plan to deploy mobile HR applications to a majority of their workforce within the next two years”. These stats are backed up by a recent poll by IDC, in which 70% of respondents believe the consumerization of IT (most notably demonstrated by the integration of smartphones and other handheld computing devices into daily life) will become an integral part of how businesses operate. As the abovementioned BusinessWeek report points out though, adoption rates can vary. This article seeks to extrapolate from that research—providing insight into the degrees and levels of mobile payroll adoption across six separate industry sectors.

Mobile Payroll Adoption: Financial Services/Insurance

The financial services industry has the highest overall adoption rate for mobile technologies across the board (an average of 64%); and the access to payroll and benefits information is even a point higher at 65%. However, the high usage of smartphones or other handheld devices among senior executives (81%) actually speaks more to the technology’s utilization for real-time workforce analytics rather than lower level employee access to payslips and individual personal data.

Mobile Payroll Adoption: Business Services/Consulting

Roughly 60% of employees in this sector have mobile access to corporate information of some description. While much of that access is focused directly on business financial performance and customers’ order statuses, there is also a strong orientation to mobile payroll and benefits apps, with 71% either providing this capability now or planning to within two years.

Mobile Payroll Adoption: Telecommunications and Technology.

The initial impetus for mobile deployment within this industry was decidedly operationally-focused—to give field technicians on-the-job access to information about parts and troubleshooting guides. As such, on average, slightly less than 60% of employees have mobile access to corporate information. As Maurice Daw (an Executive Director at the UK’s Virgin Media) puts it, “Our strategy of deploying mobile technology is simply to make it easier for our technicians”. However, this business-driven adoption has had inevitable consequences in other enterprise areas; and as such the technology sector is rapidly adopting mobile workforce status functionality—a fact that has pushed this sector farther along than most others in mobile payroll and benefits apps.

Mobile Payroll Adoption: Healthcare/Pharmaceuticals:

The healthcare industry is also comparatively aggressive in providing employees with mobile access to payroll and benefits data. However, according to research from MaaS360 (Mobile Device Management (MDM) in the Healthcare Industry), a set of non-payroll issues are currently slowing down the rate of adoption in healthcare organizations. Specifically, developers are still looking for mobile solutions that can comply with the requirements of HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and HITECH (the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act). Meanwhile, in the pharmaceutical industry, a rash of litigation is overturning the long-held view that sales representatives are classified as exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). While this legislation may seem unrelated, organizations should be aware that a general non-exempt status will have overtime payment implications. Consequently IDC Health Insights believes that pharmaceutical companies may well be forced, “to swiftly implement next-generation workforce management solutions with strong capabilities surrounding mobile time keeping.” While this adoption would be more about time and attendance than payroll directly, the typical trend is for payroll self-service opportunities to ‘piggy-back’ mobile deployment due to other enterprise needs.

Mobile Payroll Adoption: Manufacturing.

Though mobile functionality within the workforce management arena is strong in the manufacturing sector, unfortunately this industry lags behind when it comes to mobile device access to HR and payroll data. Mobile access on the production line has been proven to carry significant productivity benefits, but questions about mobile security (coupled with intellectual property considerations) have slowed adoption rates for mobile payroll to a crawl. That said, an increasing number of HR software vendors (e.g. Kronos) that play in this vertical are attempting to change these perceptions through new advances and applications.

Mobile Payroll Adoption: Travel & Hospitality.

The travel and hospitality industry sees lower than average mobile use. In fact, only 57% of employees have mobile access to payroll and benefits information; and that figure markedly drops to 35% when focus is shifted onto clerical staff versus executives and management. That’s not to say that mobile technologies aren’t leveraged in this sector though. In fact, mobile functionality is used quite extensively to facilitate customer service. That said, as Bloomberg reports, fully 38% of respondents are planning deployment of HR apps within two years.

Mobile Payroll – The Bottom line

Not surprisingly, sector differentiations do exist for mobile adoption (although it’s to be expected that Telecommunications & Technology are both ahead). Yet notably, in nearly all industries more than half of all employees access some form of corporate data via mobile devices. As it pertains to mobile payroll though, it would seem as though the personal nature (and workforce relevance) of the data being accessed, serves as a basic indicator of employee self-service adoption. While the Businessweek report shows that adoption and usage is still highest among senior executives (reflecting the focus of IT investment as much as the requirements of the role), on average, adoption is already high across all employee levels, only dipping below the 50% mark for clerical workers. End

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With 66% of organizations globally making payroll and benefits information available via mobile devices (or looking to do so in the next year), mobile payroll is a significant leap forward in both employee and manager self-service transaction functionality.




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