Market trends in HR service delivery and technology can be summed up in a single sentence: More than ever before, possibilities to explore and opportunities for productive change abound. Each year, Towers Watson explores the changing landscape of HR service delivery and technology around the world through a comprehensive study of trends, strategies, tactics and tools. Participants reveal their perspectives on what excites them about the future, what holds them back and how they plan to take advantage of new opportunities.

There is much for HR leaders to look forward to in the next year: exploring new ideas in HR structure, taking a fresh look at processes and seizing opportunities to deploy sophisticated new technologies that can make the HR function more effective and efficient.

Our report explores each of these areas in detail, organized by four key themes that arose from this year’s research. Leading organizations see 2013/2014 as the moment to:

  • Reexamine HR structure. Many organizations see new opportunities to increase HR’s strategic contributions to the business and leverage resources across the function to achieve greater efficiency and contain costs.
  • Consider new technologies. Savvy companies are investing in technologies that provide the greatest near-term innovations and advances in service delivery as well as exploring the newer technologies on today’s horizon.
  • Analyze and change HR processes. New technologies are only as good as the processes that guide them. To achieve high performance, HR must also take advantage of current opportunities to rethink and redesign its business processes.
  • Extend manager self-service. Managers are HR’s able allies in delivering and improving HR processes and expanding your company’s offerings globally. Leading organizations give managers the tools they need to support employee engagement.


Towers Watson’s 2013 HR Service Delivery and Technology Survey was fielded between the first week of January 2013 and the first week of March 2013. In total, 1,025 respondents from across 32 countries participated. Roughly 42% of the survey sample was from the Asia Pacific region, including a very large sample from China. North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa accounted for the remaining 58% of the survey respondents.

  • About half of the responses came from multinational organizations.
  • Two-thirds of the responses came from organizations with more than 5,000 employees.
  • The survey responses came from a broad cross section of industries, with the largest number concentrated in the manufacturing sector, followed by financial services, IT and telecom, professional services, and retail.

Note: During the same time, we also fielded the follow-up HR Shared Services Survey for eligible companies. This biannual survey was fielded between the first week of January 2013 and the second week of March 2013. In total, 103 respondents participated. Data on shared services are taken from this follow-up survey.