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        Matthew Brown's Analyst Perspectives

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        Why I joined ISG and Ventana Research’s HCM Technology Practice

        I am excited to announce that I have joined Ventana Research and ISG to lead coverage of the Human Capital Management technology practice, including Continuous Payroll, Employee Experience, Learning Management, Talent Management, Total Compensation Management and Workforce Management.  

        For anyone that has worked with me over the years, it’s no secret that my passion has always been the technology which powers the function of HR. I’ve worked in every role within HR 2024_Ventana_Research_HCM_Coverage_Logoover the last 20 years, and HR technology is always at the core of my strategy. I’ve been described as an HR technologist with empathy and compassion for people, and it has been a central theme in my career to sit at the intersection of people, process and technology with a focus on human resources. Embracing technology doesn’t mean replacement of people but rather creating an environment where technology is allowed to do what it does best so people can focus on what they do best. 

         I have spent the last 20 years being a consummate student of HR processes and practices around the globe, seeking to understand how to maximize the impact when people, process and technology converge with purpose. I’ve worked in numerous industries as a practitioner, seeing many different perspectives and most recently serving as chief people and culture officer at a provider. I’ve had the opportunity to build the HR function from the ground up, to reimagine a semi-mature function for global scalability, as well as working in a fully realized global HR enterprise. In all situations, technology has been a critical factor that can empower and elevate function and people.  

        The HCM technology landscape continues to change at an alarming rate, and with each change comes an onslaught of new buzzwords, features, employee demands and other complexities. These changes continue to create obstacles which can have a negative impact on the process of sourcing, selecting, implementing and sustaining a stable HCM technology stack that can withstand continuously evolving business needs. The reality of an HR professional is living in persistent change, constantly aiming to balance the needs of employees, the needs of the business and maintaining compliance with regulatory requirements while also enabling the culture to thrive.  

        The function of HR has evolved at an accelerated pace over the last 10 years, shifting from its origin as a compliance function of the business into a more strategic operation designed to attract, maintain and elevate talent. Some enterprises are now comprised of four or five generations within the workforce, creating an even more dynamic environment for HR practitioners. In addition, the workplace has been forever changed by the disruption of COVID. Businesses were forced to adapt in ways they were not prepared to, resulting in the realization of barriers and obstacles that stemmed from misaligned technology and outdated processes caused by years-long complacency. 

        The unique aspect of HCM technology as compared to other business technologies is the high dependence on adapting to the ever-changing needs of employees and employers. The spectrum of HCM technology is wide ranging and has high variability potential. While some of the components are in service of more stable and standard practices (e.g. payroll, HRIS), other components are subject to a more volatile dynamic rooted in balancing the needs of a vastly diverse population with differing needs (e.g. learning management, employee experience).  

        The traditional workplace environment has been replaced by one which requires more humanity, creating even bigger opportunities for technology. Today’s workforce demands a more personalized employee experience in all aspects, and the only way to achieve this at scale is to incorporate the right technology in alignment with the culture, processes, strategic objectives and future business objectives. The purpose of HR has shifted from compliance-focused to experience-focused integration across the business. 

        Systems shouldn’t be a barrier; they should be an enabler, allowing people to move faster and leverage their full talents and knowledge to deliver exceptional results. Too often, I’ve witnessed practitioners quickly move to disparage the technology they have access to and cite it as an obstacle when most of the time the issue is the technology is not aligned to the company’s processes, culture or needs. No two enterprises are identical, which means what works for one may not always work for another. 

        One thing I’ve learned over the last 20 years relative to HCM technology, HR practitioners are highly uninformed and overwhelmed when it comes to making sense out of the cluttered HR technology landscape. Analyst voices serve as a guide, intending to help orient and educate the practitioners. Too often, the real-world practitioner experience is not present in the analysis, leading to frustration and confusion. In some cases, the message can leave the practitioners to assume that all HR technology solves the same challenges. As technology has become a critical part of the functions that power HR, the need for clear and easy-to-consume information around the technology, the providers and the processes is more important than ever. 

        Ventana Research was a beacon of light for me in the sea of sameness that is technology research and analyst firms. The team is aligned and committed to the practitioner-centric approach in everything they do, and the experience and expertise is noticeably different. As a practitioner and consumer of research and analyst perspectives for the last 20 years, I’ve experienced the challenges practitioners have when consuming content. The underlying challenge exists due to the general lack of focused education on the HCM technology landscape for practitioners. Ventana Research intentionally built a team that is rich with depth in practitioner knowledge across all disciplines and leverages a unique methodology which has created a high-trust relationship with clients for more than two decades. 

        So why this change at this time? It was always my career aspiration to fully understand all aspects of the human resource function and reach the pinnacle as CHRO. The view from the top-level decision-maker seat provided tremendous perspective. Being able to serve in this seat at a provider also afforded me the ongoing opportunity to connect with other HR leaders and develop a robust perspective regarding the HR function and its technology needs across different industries, different geographies and different stages of business growth. When the opportunity to join Ventana Research arrived, it felt as though this was always meant to be part of the journey for me.  

        As the HCM research director, it is my aspiration to work with Ventana Research and ISG’s clients to elevate the conversation by bringing a practical view of HCM technology to the practitioner that considers the complexities and nuances of company culture, real-world experiences and dynamics that are their reality. With an informed perspective, our clients can make timely decisions regarding their HCM technology with high confidence. 


        Matthew Brown


        Matthew Brown
        Director of Research, Human Capital Management

        Matthew leads the expertise in HCM software and guides HR and business leaders with over two decades of experience. His research covers the full range of HCM processes and software including employee experience, learning management, payroll management, talent management, total compensation management and workforce management.


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