HR Tech in South Africa

Tim Barry, analyst, blogger & speaker on HR & Recruitment Technology talks about what makes the South African HR Tech market unique


"tim barry" hrtech "hr tech" "south africa"HRTechnation:  Hi Tim! Can you please tell us a little about yourself and how you got involved in HR Tech in South Africa
Tim:  I grew up in the UK and qualified as a lawyer before working in sales for companies such as News UK, publishers of The Times and Sunday Times newspapers. My first foray into HR Tech was with a London-based startup called Innovate CV, initially in sales but subsequently taking on marketing, onboarding, product development and training. In 2012, I emigrated to Cape Town, South Africa and started my own HR Tech consultancy, working with vendors primarily but also helping corporates to identify and implement global HR software solutions.

HRTechnation:  How big is the South African HR Tech Market?
Tim: The South African HR Tech Market is very small in comparison to the UK Market as, despite the population being almost the same, there are far fewer active companies and most of these are less advanced in their business processes than their UK counterparts.

HRTechnation:  What categories are more prominent?
Tim:  Core HR and payroll systems are fairly widespread, but most organizations (even some large companies with 1000+ employees) do not even have an ATS!

HRTechnation:  Are there any unique issues that define the South African HR Tech market?
Tim:  The South African market is unique in that the large national corporates and global companies with a presence in the country have their headquarters and offices in the large cities, benefiting from near-First World infrastructure, and employ highly educated and skilled staff, whereas the rest of the country is characterized by Third World living and working conditions where the majority of workers are lower-skilled or employed informally. Consequently there is a limited market for HR Tech vendors and the local providers are vulnerable to international competitors who offer more advanced solutions that are within the budget of these larger companies. On the upside there are many thriving tech hubs and incubators which support the creation of HR Tech startups that are primarily aimed at SMEs.

HRTechnation:  What is the status of adoption of HR Tech applications? Are HR managers keen to try them out? Do they prefer local apps or international ones?
Can you mention 1 company that’s doing a great job adopting this kind of technology?
Tim:  Most large companies are using Tier 1 HR software systems, whilst only a few HR or talent acquisition directors/managers at small-to-medium sized companies are willing to even have a demo. In general, there is a preference for international apps at larger companies and local apps at small-to-medium sized companies. One of the companies who has successfully implemented HR Tech apps is Mediclinic, one of the largest private hospital groups, who use SAP as their core HR system, CRS for payroll, Kronos for time & attendance and Graylink’s Neptune as their ATS.

HRTechnation:  What are the activities (Meetups? Conferences?) of HR Tech in South Africa? Any people/leaders stand out? (besides yourself, of course :-))
There are no locally organized events specifically covering HR Tech, which is an indication of the immaturity of the market, however there have been several international events that have been brought to South Africa, such as DisruptHR, the HR Innovation & Tech Fest and The Recruiting Unconference (TRU). However, HR Tech is beginning to feature more prominently at HR industry events such as the Future of HR Summit, HR Director’s Conference, HRworks Annual Conference and IPM Annual Convention, and HR Tech vendors have progressed from merely exhibiting at these events to speaking and even sponsoring them.

Some of the most prominent leaders in HR Tech are Gary Willmot, the CEO of Hi5 (organisers of DisruptHR Cape Town), Anish Shivdasani, the CEO of Giraffe, Marius Meyer, CEO of the SA Board of People Practices (SABPP) Ronnie Toerien, HCM Product Leader for Africa at Oracle, Celeste Sirin, CEO of Employer Branding SA and Natalie Singer, former head of the SA professional body for the staffing industry (APSO) and Africa representative on the World Employment Board (CIETT).

HRTechnation:  Any local VCs involved in the industry?
Tim:  Giraffe, an automated high-volume recruitment startup that uses mobile technology and matching algorithms, received funding from local investors Vumela Fund, Forever Young Capital and Catapult Trust as well as global impact investor The Omidyar Foundation and Cape Town-based SaaS investment fund Getihu recently backed Hi5, an employee recognition app that also helps companies measure culture and values.

HRTechnation:  Can you perhaps recommend a few South African HR Tech applications you are particularly fond of?
Tim:  As well as Giraffe and Hi5 (who I mentioned above) I really like:
Clockwork , which enables employers to hire vetted labourers for specific jobs
Global Refer, a gamified social referral tool integrated with an ATS
Leaply, a tool for matching graduates and employers
Money4Jam, a micro-jobbing platform for connecting brands to an on-demand workforce via their mobile device.

HRTechnation:  What are you most excited about??
Tim:  The major socio-economic problem in South Africa which is affecting the state of the economy and standard of living of it’s citizens is unemployment, specifically youth unemployment, so whenever I hear about an HR Tech startup that has been created to fulfill the need to connect unemployed young South Africans with employers (such as Clockwork App, Giraffe and Global Refer) I am incredibly excited and do everything I can to promote these startups to SA youth. One of the ways in which I do this is through #JobAdviceSA, the social media community I created along with recruiters Vanessa Raath and Wesley Madziva to give jobseekers advice and assistance in searching and applying for jobs, as well as drafting CVs, interview etiquette, negotiating salary, etc. We encourage South African employers, recruiters and career experts to take part in a weekly Twitter chat to answer questions on these topics and connect with jobseekers, as well as recommending HR Tech apps that can help jobseekers find work.

HRTechnation:  Thank you so much Tim for your time!


"tim barry" hrtech "hr tech" "south africa"Tim  Barry is an internationally Recognised Analyst, Blogger & Speaker on HR & Recruitment Technology, Social Media Recruitment and Sourcing, co-host & founder of the #JobAdviceSA social media community for South African employers, jobseekers and recruiters and finalist for HR Rising Star of the Year at the Future of HR Awards.

Cell: +27 (0)72 419 5469
Job Advice SA Email:
Job Advice SA Web:
Skype: timjonbarry

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