How the future of Human Capital will reshape SaaS

3 min read Indus Khaitan

Venture Investors, Entrepreneurs, CTOs, CFOs, CMOs have come together recently for our first-ever virtual event: Quolum Live. With SaaS powering business as never before, a responsible and strategic approach to software spending is crucial in the 2020s. Our six sessions at Quolum Live bring together critical and diverse perspectives on the growth trajectory of SaaS, key factors driving SaaS growth, pandemic impact on SaaS, and what lies ahead this decade.   

We’ve taken our live sessions and curated the best parts for your reading pleasure. 

In this session, Shuchi Rana, Senior Director at HeadSpin, and former head of SAP.IO’s Foundry for startups shares:

  • A Human Capital perspective on SaaS growth, including opportunities (and risk) companies face with multi-generational talent
  • SaaS for future work and Human Capital amplification
  • How technology can support diversity, inclusion, and culture change

Shuchi’s discussion is a crucial reminder about the need to focus on mindsets, open ecosystems, and a multi-generation focus in selling and buying SaaS. SaaS has the potential to bring fresh insights and actions to bring more diversity, inclusiveness, and listening to work.


Session Highlights

Q: What are the biggest industry shifts you have seen in Human Capital and SaaS in the past two decades?

  • Shuchi pointed out that in her career as a startup operator, the biggest shift she has seen is HR has moved from a checklist approach to a human-centric experience approach
  • Shuchi pointed out that a decade ago, it was about putting in heavy amounts of capital to implement  expensive HR software, and largely most data lived in Excel
  • Diversity & Inclusion wasn’t really as much a focus even 5-6 years ago, now companies have Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officers
  • Creating a great experience is the goal- from Human Capital to Human Experience Management

Q: How effectively are organizations making the transition from pure Human Capital to Human Experience Management?

  • Shuchi saw a great example of this at SAP.IO through SuccessFactors’ open ecosystem which enabled the transition to happen faster. SAP opened its ecosystem and asked how do we fill the gaps in key Talent Management areas
  • A big shift Shuchi sees is that people have started listening to their employees, customers, and channels a lot more. In listening they are getting a lot of information and that’s where the big opportunity lies
  • Whether in Talent Management, Onboarding, L&D, Recruiting, Micro-learning, Upskilling – there is innovation across the board in startups. 
  • Startups are responding to how to bring a full lifecycle experience building on previous generations of HR systems of record

Q: What and how do different generations at the workforce benefit most from modern SaaS? What’s the deal with how Gen Z uses technology?

  • Generation Z has benefited from the technologies the most, but the adoption is wider because of COVID
  • Working from home, across the board, the adoption of technology has spread faster across other generations as well such as Gen X, Boomers, and Millennials. 
  • Gen Z doesn’t know a world without technology and has the fastest learning curve, versus Boomers and Generation X, that’s what makes them different 
  • Helping these other generations also adapt, for example, Boomers at work, presents its own unique opportunity for technology 

Q: How has the adoption of learning technology evolved from E-learning of previous decades to new SaaS-delivered experiences?

  • Depending on the kind of company, larger enterprises still have old E-learning systems and there is a need for upgrading systems to meet employees “where they are”
  • This is the digital transformation that Shuchi saw at SAP, where the adoption internally of new tools helped the company also influence transformation externally 
  • Startups are looking at bite-sized delivery of learning especially in SE Asia, and mobile is still an important delivery mechanism for existing L&D systems content, so you get the information you need in an enjoyable and interactive manner
Quolum Live Quote: Shuchi Rana

Q: What opportunities and startups are you seeing on how technology can positively impact culture, and enable diversity and inclusion initiatives?

  • The biggest challenge Shuchi sees is mindset first, technology second
  • Since Generation Z has embraced an ethical framework around Diversity & Inclusion more than other generations, that makes it ripe for bringing technology into workplaces
  • For example, Blendoor. It is a Diversity and Inclusion focused company that takes biases out of the process by taking out the information about gender, race, and other information 
  • How do we make that process more inclusive and diverse in addition to the technology
  • Ethical AI is an area Shuchi is tracking to reduce human bias in algorithms

Q: How do you see AI reimagine the future of work and how different generations of professionals can work alongside AI SaaS?

  • AI takes the mundane away from humans to focus on the emotional and higher order side of things 
  • Sees Human and AI combination to scale and find volume especially in dangerous jobs to focus energy and skill sets
  • Example of ocean cleaning startup, which applied AI to help humans complete the task

Q: In ten years from now, which enterprise SaaS tool(s) do you see yourself using less of and more of, to make you more effective? 

  • Shuchi shared a tool called Cultivate, a personal relationships manager app, that sits on top of all communications channels to help managers be more effective
  • This app helps answer “Why is a person emailing another person only all the time” and helps managers and teams get explicit about their communication trends and helps drive self-awareness and opening of perspectives on communication patterns and gaps

Q: How do you see the role of SaaS in managing growth while managing software spend needed to drive growth?

  • Since Shuchi is a Finance person by training, she felt she has the lens of value for purchasing a SaaS product intrinsically wired into her thinking
  • Shuchi would love to identify which stage of a company benefits from which tools to create the greatest value at that stage. For e.g. sometimes a company needs innovation, at some stages only efficiency, and other stages a need for cross-org alignment 
  • She also sees the duplication of tools e.g. one team uses a tool for project management, a second team uses another, hurt decision making and cause siloed thinking
  • She is a believer in spending on tools that help teams make decisions together