Human Resources Investment Trends: What B2B Buyers Want from Their HRIS

Human Resources professionals have had quite the last few years, huh? Given the circumstances of the past two-plus years, a great deal has changed for and been asked of our Human Resources colleagues, while we, the professionals who aren’t working in HR, looked to them to help us figure out all of the insanity set before as quickly as possible. 

“Are we able to work remotely for the foreseeable future?” 

“What would happen to my employment status if I happened to move to a new state?” 

“How can we onboard more employees virtually?”

As a result HR teams scrambled the world-over to upgrade their existing infrastructure to address a rapidly changing world. What worked for years suddenly seemed irrelevant. Investing in modern HR software solutions became mission critical overnight. 

What Do Human Resources Professionals Need From Their HRIS Software?

HR pros and departments have leaned on human resources software (also known as HRIS [human resources information system]) to streamline their work and empower their colleagues for decades. 

Early HRIS systems automated payroll and incorporated ERP by the end of the 1970s. By the 1990s, HRIS began using cloud technologies, allowing their clients to access their employees’ performance via online accounts on web-based portals. Even pre-pandemic, Human Resources software had made remote work more feasible, providing flexibility for everyone.

Today, HR software enables companies to:

  • Provide access to employees and administrators anywhere at anytime
  • Manage employee PTO
  • Share vital documents for future reference
  • Ensure compliance
  • Increase other organizational efficiencies

While HRIS software has been cloud-based for nearly thirty years, these platforms have evolved considerably in the past decade alone. The rise in remote work has also placed greater demand on these tools, as the needs for HR software have likely changed considerably. But how have these needs changed and what do Human Resources departments put the most stock in?

Fortunately, this is something that NetLine has greater visibility into. 

The Challenge

  • How can Marketers at HR software vendors better understand the needs of their target buyers beyond anecdotal learnings gleaned from their existing customer base?
  • What kind of obstacles are HR professionals facing that human resources-specific software vendors can solve or simplify?
  • How can Marketing operationally leverage insights into those obstacles to drive more personalized and contextual dialogue with prospects? 

The Goal

  • Identify and understand how leading HR decision-makers use or intend to use HR software and whether they intend to increase their investment any further within the next 12 months and beyond.
  • Such observations should exclusively be captured via first-party interactions with HR decision-making buyers as they voluntarily registered and consumed related content. 

How This Data Was Captured

By tapping into dramatic scale beyond the limitations of their own content, our customer leveraged NetLine’s Intent Discovery product to secure first-party sourced intent-rich data squarely aimed at accelerating sales outcomes. Empowered by NetLine’s entire universe of content, the client put to good use all 13,000+ assets, billions of data points, and the 35,925,120 different ways of filtering buyers actively performing research.

Unlike traditional intent data, Buyer-Level Intent Data captured via Intent Discovery helps you better understand the challenges, priorities, and purchase timeline of your ideal targets. Nothing is hidden behind obfuscated datasets and/or black box proprietary scores. 

Perhaps most importantly, Intent Discovery acts as an always-on monitor of all B2B content consumption behavior as professionals are actively researching content specific to their challenges. Monitoring activity is then mined on a real-time basis and intercepted once a buyer has met or exceeded each element required to define intent—capturing custom, intent-rich, customer-specific insights directly from the prospect.

The Questions

To answer the questions, we engaged nearly 6,800 senior-level HR decision-makers to assess their desire to invest in HR software and what their priorities are with this technology.

Here’s a sampling of some of the insights we uncovered from their responses.

What are Your Top HR Software Priorities You Are Allocating Resources Towards?


What are Your Top HR Software Priorities You Are Allocating Resources Towards?

Name PCT.
Performance Management 34.21%
Talent Management Systems 21.51%
Applicant Tracking System 13.31%
Benefits Management 13.27%
Payroll 11.36%
Video Interview Software 3.57%
Assessment Tracking Software 2.77%

Human Resources departments are charged with a variety of responsibilities. While their colleagues might only look to them for PTO and benefits questions, they’re focused on the professional development of each member of the organization. 

PD is such a focus within the HR world that 34.21% of respondents stated that Performance Management was their top priority in terms of resource allocation, making it the top priority in the field. In fact, these respondents were 1137% more likely to state that Performance Management was their top priority compared to Assessment Tracking Software, the least prioritized feature. Of those who shared that Performance Management was their main focus, HR Professionals in the Advertising/Marketing industry were the most likely to state that Performance Management was their top priority (45.6%), making them 33.3% more likely to make this statement.

Investing in your employees is the sign of an organization that values its people. Considering that the cost of replacing an employee can be as high as 50%-60% (with overall costs ranging anywhere from 90%-200% according to research from SHRM), businesses should be doing everything in their power to retain their people. It should come as no surprise then that Talent Management Systems was the second most popular priority at 21.51%. HR pros within the Automotive industry viewed this as critical with 32.71% of them stating it was their top priority.

Some of the other notable insights include:

  • While Video Interview Software was the second least prioritized category, HR pros in the Telecommunications industry were 189.8% more likely to make it a priority over any other industry.
  • HR professionals in the Corporate Services industry lead the way for two separate priorities: Applicant Tracking Systems (20.46%) and Assessment Tracking Software (4.62%). Given this industry’s need to track and measure their own outputs for their clients, being interested in these two categories makes complete sense.

What’s the Timeframe for Additional Investment for HR Software?


What’s the Timeframe for Additional Investment for HR Software?

Name PCT.
Over 1 Year 78.02%
6-12 Months 12.63%
3-6 Months 4.74%
Under 3 Months 4.61%

The Human Resources audience is one of the largest we study across the NetLine platform. Because of this, it’s surprising to see how different the results are for this group relative to its peers in other industries. For example, 31.92% of our respondents regarding AI software investment expected to invest within the next 12 months. When it comes to HR software, only 21.98% of respondents said they expect to make any additional investment within the next 12 months. A roughly 1:4 ratio compared to a 3:7 ratio is quite large.

Despite the fact that the majority of respondents aren’t looking to invest in the near future, there are still a number of professionals who are (and as we highlighted in our Challenging the 95-5 Rule blog, understanding and focusing on those who are ready is crucial).

Let’s find out where the market current sits:

  • 4.61% of respondents expect to make any additional investment in HR software within the next 3 months. HR professionals in the Advertising/Marketing industry were the most aggressive in their timelines, as these respondents were 212.3% more likely to state that they would look to make any additional investment within the next 3 months. Specifically, HR Systems Administrators in the Advertising/Marketing field were 1201% more likely to state that they would look to make any additional investment within the next 3 months compared to others with the same timeline.

  • On the other hand, HR professionals in the Education industry had the most, as they were 7.6% less likely to say that they would look to make any additional investment within the next 3 months.

  • Conversely, 92.3% of HR recruiting professionals in the Finance industry stated more likely to make any additional investment within the next year, making them 18.3% more likely to say this compared to others with the same timeline.

One trend that we’ve observed across our buyer-level intent analysis is how aggressive HR professionals in the Media industry are in their investment timelines. While they may not be the most prolific in any one category, it’s quite common to see Media, Telecommunications, and, as we detailed above, Advertising/Marketing professionals (regardless of job area) stating that they’ll be looking to invest sooner than many of their peers in other industries.

The most likely reason for this? Agency professionals Agencies are charged with keeping their clients in the know on everything under the sun, which naturally requires a great deal of learning, attention, and dedicated personnel. HRIS use within these professions makes a great deal of sense as a means of reducing turnover and expediting hiring.

The Results

Despite the fact that nearly 80% of respondents may not be looking to buy within the next year, Human Resources software is a growing market that is poised to become a primary resource for businesses of all sizes. 

For example, through Intent Discovery, we found that:

  • 16.5% of respondents said that Hiring People Faster was their top challenge in managing and using HR software.

  • CHRO/Chief Human Resource Officers in the Legal field were 319.3% more likely to state that Data Management was their greatest challenge in managing HR software.

  • HR professionals in the Healthcare/Medical industry employing 1,000-2,499 employees generating $100 – 499.9 Million were the largest sub-group of respondents.

  • HR professionals in the Healthcare/Medical and Financial fields were 25% and 23.3%, respectively, more likely to state that Retaining Talent was their top challenge in managing and using HR software

  • HR professionals in the Computers and Technology space working within organizations employing 500 – 999 generating $500 – $999.9 Million are the most eager to expedite their timelines, as they were 1346% more likely to state that they’d make any additional investment within the next 3 months. 

  • HR professionals in the Travel/Hospitality/Entertainment field working within organizations employing 1,000 – 2,499 generating $100 – $499.9 Million, on the other hand, weren’t in any hurry to make any additional investment, as they were 23.8% more likely to state that they wouldn’t be looking to invest within the next 12 months.

Insights like these are more valuable than gold, as they set the table for more productive and more fruitful interactions, relationships, and, hopefully, sales. But getting there still requires some additional effort.

How to Maximize Buyer-Level Intent Insights

So long as Marketers know how to leverage the actionable, buyer-level data at their disposal, they have significant opportunities in front of them, 

Here are a few ways Marketers can maximize buyer-level intent data to reach the HR decision making professionals they’re after:

Restructure Your Sales and Marketing Outreach

​While possessing intent data isn’t the same as a lead, it should be treated similarly. 

Once you know what your buyers are truly interested in, it’s time to ditch the templated outreach emails. Embrace the ability to truly know who is actively exhibiting intent within the account. 

Coordinate Campaign and Content Messaging

If you knew that a Recruiting professional was struggling with their talent management system, you wouldn’t subject them to an email that focused exclusively on your latest payroll solution updates, right? Of course not.

Once you know your prospect’s needs, consider the additional variables your prospect will need: 

  • What type of unique content is needed to move them closer to a buying decision? 
  • Who else is involved in the buying committee? 
  • Who is the ultimate decision-maker?

Identify Likely-to-Buy Accounts

Buyer-level intent is spectacular. However, just because it’s the new, shiny object doesn’t mean it’ll yield the best possible buyers for you.

To find which accounts are not only actively exhibiting first-party intent but also align with your core buying indicators, matrix your buyer-level intent data against existing internal signals; you’re likely to find a tremendous amount of success here.

How Your Business Can Better Understand the Intent of Your Audience

In today’s hyper-competitive vendor market, it is more important than ever to understand the real-time pain points and in-market tendencies of your future buyers. Buyer-Level Intent Discovery removes the guesswork that comes with every lead and instead provides context to what each prospect needs and what your buying audience craves.

NetLine’s Intent Discovery product helps businesses accelerate sales cycles by capturing first-party intent data by intercepting and engaging the buyer with customized validation questions. With this one-of-a-kind product, B2B Marketers can gain first-party insights for immediate activation and seamless remarketing/sales acceleration.

For more information on how you can move beyond account-level insights and start your buyer-level intent discovery journey, contact us, or visit our website.