HR Technology Solutions Reach MENA Region

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The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region presents a very different human resources (HR) picture than do the United States and Europe. While the latter are facing the prospect of an ageing and depleted workforce, the MENA region has a growing pool of young and mobile workers.

This, compounded with a large number of expatriates, high public sector employment and workforce nationalization practices, means that the HR challenges faced by the region require serious consideration.

Human resources also have a large role to play within the economic development of the MENA region. Countries like Oman are seeking to exploit their human capital to trigger further growth and provide the skilled workforce that will be required in the future.


Globally, there is a shift towards streamlining and automating HR operations using IT. HR technology can assist in many areas, such as with payrolls, recruitment and employee engagement, and it can also help organizations in MENA make the most of their HR departments.

HR Solutions to Increase Productivity

Almarai, the largest dairy company in the world, which is based in Saudi Arabia, implemented a new HR system earlier this year aimed at increasing productivity through seemingly simple improvements.

The company implemented the SAP ERP Human Capital Management system, which allows for the filling in of forms for annual contract renewals, transfer processes, and holiday requests online, to automate its HR processes.

Previously, these forms had to be filled in manually and were often delivered to multiple locations, which was a particular issue for staff working in remote locations.

Abdulrahman Al Turaigi, general manager of support services for Almarai, said: "The use of a centralized database enables employees and management to access up-to-date, reliable information that supports HR and business-related decisions, and increases efficiency, further enabling our company's growth and development."

The new system also helps the company comply with changing local and global regulations, Abdul-Raheem Bawazeer, managing director for SAP in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia added.

"Almarai recognizes that the achievement of the organization depends on the quality, effort, and cooperation of its employees, the automation of core processes, such as employee administration, payroll, and legal reporting," he said.

SaaS for HR

The software-as-a-service (SaaS) industry and cloud computing have seen huge growth in recent years as companies look to reduce their capital expenditure on IT. SaaS has many applications within a business environment, not least within human resources.

IT research firm Gartner surveyed 270 IT and business management professionals across the globe and 95 percent said they were looking to increase their usage of SaaS. Sharon Mertz, research director at Gartner, said that the uses for SaaS applications are growing, with dealing with expense claims being among the most popular.

Further research from COI Insight revealed that between 2010 and 2011 40 percent of HR executives plan on using SaaS for their "core needs." The same number expects SaaS to reduce costs although 50 percent see privacy issues as a concern.

SaaS can be utilized by organizations of all sizes, but there are those who believe small to medium-sized enterprises are likely to see the biggest benefits.

Sean Simpson, director of sales and operations at Workday Canada, told the Financial Post: "In the older days, you had to buy a core HR system and then you'd have to bolt on as an extension other niche-like solutions for capabilities such as succession planning, talent management, time and attendance and benefits.

"With SaaS, that is all built in as a baseline out-of-the-box functionality where updates are automatic."