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Microsoft Dips Toe Deeper into Human Resources Software

Jan 13, 2017

Microsoft has long offered specialized business applications under the Dynamics brand for helping corporate customers manage sales leads or keep tabs on inventory and production processes. So, it's not a huge surprise that it's working on new products to deal with human resources issues, or what people in that field call human capital management (HCM).

HCM software has been on Microsoft's public roadmap since at least November when the company announced availability of Dynamics 365, a set of products that brings various business applications closer together in much the same way that Microsoft Office years ago combined the company's standalone word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software.

Microsoft's $26 billion acquisition of LinkedIn and its trove of information about millions of people and their professional contacts, could be an invaluable boost to its Dynamics lineup. Whether a business person is chasing sales leads or trying to find good employees, chances are they already use LinkedIn. Microsoft will obviously try to press that advantage.

Several older Microsoft (msft) Dynamics packages include human resources modules already. But per its roadmap posted a couple of months ago and a job listing from early January spotted by ZDNet, Microsoft plans to go further.

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The roadmap, for example, suggest that Microsoft plans to add ways for employees to set up direct deposit services and update their personal information in Dynamics 365. Likewise, managers will be able to bring new employees on board using the system (and to "off-board" them, as well).

There are some big fish in this rather large pond. Workday (wday), which had no comment for this story, made its name providing such HR software applications via cloud services. In 2011, business software giant SAP (sap) dropped $3.4 billion on SuccessFactors, Oracle (orcl) then bought Taleo, a specialist in "talent management" to boost its HR offerings. Clearly big software companies see big opportunity here.

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In related news, Microsoft this week released StaffHub, a new app that aims to help managers manage their staff's work schedules and other tasks, like sharing updates and bulletins with employees via a mobile iOS or Android app. StaffHub will be included with select version of the Office 365 application suite.

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