Complexity Made Easier #2/3: Global vs ‘glocal’: The impact of technology on international HR

October 9, 2019

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September 2019 Blog Part 2

David Wilson, CEO of Fosway Group, Europe’s #1 HR industry analyst, continues his three-part guest series looking at HR transformation by helping us understand the reality of where HR is today. In this post he explores the challenges faced by international organisations and how technology can help support global HR transformation.

There is no question that HR technology can be a huge enabler for organisations today, with our current research data showing that over three quarters of organisations are increasing their investment in digital this year. But the reality our research also highlights is that there is no one size fits all approach. And this is especially true for international organisations.

When commentators and analysts talk about HR, the regional subtleties across Europe for example, are often ignored. But for us at Fosway, it’s understanding these local nuances that is often the critical difference between success and failure. HR in Europe doesn’t conform to a single set of challenges with a simple set of answers. Unfortunately, it is usually much more complex.

Key considerations for international HR

Whether it is coping with multiple language capabilities, cultural differences or variances in data privacy, there is no room to make assumptions about what a HR system can provide your people across different countries and contexts. Only around a third of European organisations adopt a centralized operating model when it comes to its internal systems. Federated models, where some responsibilities are devolved within a common framework and IT systems architecture, are far more common and account for 57% of organisations from our research.

This has significant implications for HR processes and technology choices. The majority of organisations need systems that can accommodate combinations of common process whilst also being able to flex to enable local practices. And not all HR systems are able to cope with what some call this ‘glocal’ approach.

Often there are sacrifices in systems admin overheads, process flexibility and enabling group-wide transparency that make it difficult to support diversity, local discretion and business agility. This often means that HR systems implementations turn into exercises in creating homogenous processes, more than liberating more local agile practices.

Creating a coherent HR IT ecosystem across the different specialisms and local requirements can be complex. The key is avoid the HR and talent systems environment becoming too much of a ‘Frankenstein’s monster’ of different systems bolted together based on legacy platforms from acquired companies and regional expansions.

The lowest levels of standardisation of HR systems are in the following areas:

  • Onboarding (84%)
  • Workforce planning and organisational design (76%)
  • Analytics (75%)
  • Employee engagement (71%)
  • Payroll (67%)

Governance is a critical aspect of managing your HR tech solutions. By articulating shared approaches and the different elements of how your organisation localises across different regions, these can be documented and used to manage consensus around how to leverage your different HR platforms and making sure different suppliers understand – and can cater for – your unique requirements.

Ultimately, try to focus on how HR technology can help solve your key business challenges. Concentrating on how it can help increase business agility for example, rather than just trying to simplify or rationalise your systems, will potentially be the differentiating perspective of high performing HR functions going forwards.

David Wilson – BIO 

David Wilson is founder and CEO of Fosway Group, Europe’s #1 HR industry analyst. A major commentator on the HR, talent and learning industries for over 20 years, David is a strategic advisor to many major corporate and supplier organisations in the UK and Europe.

David personally leads Fosway’s research and corporate advisory agenda. He is the author of over 150 research papers and articles, as well as being a leading speaker at major conferences and events around the world.

With his extensive market knowledge and detailed insight of corporate projects and experiences, David continues to influence the thinking of many of the leading companies and vendors operating in the market today.

Areas of Expertise

  • HR and learning technology and strategy
  • Vendor solutions
  • Market trends
  • Industry research
  • Corporate advice

Contact Information: +44 (0)20 7917 187;

About Fosway Group

Fosway Group is Europe’s #1 HR industry analyst focused on Next Gen HR, Talent and Learning. Founded in 1996, we are known for our unique European research, our independence and our integrity.

For over 20 years, we have been analysing the realities of the market, and providing insights on the future of HR, Talent and Learning. Fosway analysts work extensively with our corporate clients to understand the inside story of the challenges they are facing, and their real experiences with next gen strategies, systems and suppliers. Our independent vendor analysis also provides a vital resource when making decisions on innovation and technology.

And just like the Roman road we draw our name from, you’ll find that we’re unusually direct. We don’t have a vested interest in your supplier or consulting choices. So, whether you’re looking for independent research, specific advice or a critical friend to cut through the market hype, we can tell you what you need to know to succeed.

Talk to us today on +44 (0) 207 917 1870 or via, or visit us at