In an effort to find and deliver new human resource applications, employee benefit brokerage and technology firm Willis Towers Watson has extended its collaborative relationship with startup incubator and business technology provider Plug and Play.

Last year, Willis Towers Watson and Plug and Play collaborated on employee benefits applications from tech start-ups. This year, both firms are looking at proposals from HR software start-ups to address performance management, recruiting, onboarding, workforce analytics, human capital analytics and talent intelligence.

The HR technology proposals that receive funding will be part of Enterprise 2.0, Plug and Play’s platform of solutions that focus on different aspects of running a company. Other aspects of the Enterprise platform include finance, legal, IT, operations, and accounting software and services.

Under the expanded arrangement, Plug and Play will seek out new human capital management technology startups and WTW will comment, collaborate and possibly invest in these startups.

[Image credit: Bloomberg]
[Image credit: Bloomberg]

Earlier this month, Plug and Play gathered 30 start-ups that presented their HR, IT and other business applications before WTW, other corporations and VC investors. Twenty-one startups were chosen to further develop and fine-tune their offerings in Plug and Play’s 180,000 square foot offices with office space, wifi, free meal cards and development tools. These 21 firms will present their updated software in late summer in a series of public and semi-private events.

“We get to see them firsthand, and our goal would be to determine if we are finding startups in the HR space to help with recruitment, onboarding, engaging people in different ways and more,” says Suzanne McAndrew, Willis Tower Watson’s global head of talent business.

WTW has the option of investing in the startups, buying the companies or buying the solutions outright and selling them under their brand name.

Plug and Play says it aims to help HR executives to find new technology that adds capabilities and reduce costs.

“It allows the HR department not to rely on their innovation sourcing with development teams,” says Mark Gregory, head of product and partners for Enterprise 2.0 at Plug and Play. “[Instead] it allows them to work with people who understand HR technology and function in an organization and innovation overall. This moves the burden to us where we do the sourcing, vetting and match-making with our corporate partners, and it takes away the need for corporate to build these solutions in-house, which is often expensive, time-intensive and may not always succeed.”

The market is ripe for a new wave of HR technology, McAndrew says.

“We’ve seen HR be excellent stewards of managing cost and benefits and optimizing total rewards while investing in things like outsourcing and big systems implementation. We’re looking at how the company organizations are digitally transforming and there are other ways that HR needs to apply different tools to reskill themselves,” she says.

“This is HR’s time to shine and invest in themselves,” McAndrew adds.

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