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News briefs: SAP offers HR tool for visa management

In these news briefs, SAP tackles visa management, Microsoft is using a startup to manage its career site, and a startup has released a blockchain-based HR platform.

From SAP's perspective, visa management by businesses is largely ad hoc. It's organized by spreadsheets and email, and it's not integrated very well with HR systems. The vendor, in response to this perceived need, has developed a visa management system for its SuccessFactors human capital management platform.

The tool offers a visa management framework. It is up to users to configure it to a country's visa and permitting requirements. "We focus on the technology," said Frans Smolders, senior director of HCM solution management at SAP SuccessFactors.

Visa management is complicated by 196 countries with separate rules, timetables and processes. Even in the European Union, where there are some agreed-upon visa policies, there are still some 25 slightly different approaches to managing visas and permits, Smolders said. "Managing it on a global perspective has been a big pain," he said.

The visa management system tracks all the processes involved in visa and work permits, including potential expenses. The tool, named SAP SuccessFactors Visa and Permits Management, is designed to be integrated with SAP's core HR system, Employee Central.

This visa management system is the first built by SAP on its platform as a service, SAP Cloud Platform. Vendors offer applications that work with SAP's SuccessFactors. Similar to other applications on this platform, the visa management system has separate pricing.

A blockchain HR verification startup

Managing [visa and work permits] on a global perspective has been a big pain.
Frans Smolderssenior director of HCM solution management at SAP SuccessFactors

The use of blockchain in HR to verify credentials and execute labor contracts is still in the test and pilot phase. But there is an emerging startup market, and an Australian-based firm is entering the market with what may be a unique payment system.

Sydney-based ChronoBank has launched a platform, LaborX, which uses blockchain to verify and pay employees. One feature is continuous payment, where a contingent or freelance worker can be paid as often as every minute.

The employer buys labor hours through ChronoBank and pays the worker in cryptocurrency. The payments are deposited in an employee's virtual wallet, and blockchain's smart contract capability -- a system that automatically manages the terms of the contract -- ensures payments.

Among the advantages for the employee is assurance of payment for labor, said Sergei Sergienko, ChronoBank's CEO. The blockchain ensures employers that the worker's "reputation cannot be altered," and it also makes it easier to hire people globally, including digital nomads -- people who work without a fixed location, he said.

Microsoft adopts new career platform

Phenom People, a firm based in Ambler, Pa., has received $22 million in new funding and just announced a new customer: Microsoft.

Phenom People defines its HR category as "talent relationship marketing." The company creates a front-end career site for the client. It has an agreement with LinkedIn to allow visitors to immediately link their profile with the career site.

The career site for Microsoft, which owns LinkedIn, is now live on the Phenom People Platform. Some of its other clients include GE, Ford and General Motors Co.

Phenom's system uses analytics to track job seekers' behavior on the site, which includes analysis of the LinkedIn profile and a résumé, should they upload it. That enables personalization and delivery of relevant job opportunities, firm officials said.

Brad Goldoor, Phenom's chief people officer and co-founder, said their customers will see an increase in applications because its machine learning algorithms will serve up relevant content. "We call it the Amazon-like experience. It's personalized to the individual," he said.

Phenom People was founded in 2011 and has raised more than $30 million. The firm employs 300 globally.

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