Back to the Future of Payroll

5 years ago

By Neilson Watts (Associate Product Manager, Sage One Payroll).

Okay, I’ll admit I’m a fan of 80’s Sci-Fi: so imagine if you could jump into Marty McFly’s DeLorean time machine and take a look at what the future holds for payroll. What would it look like? Let’s go ‘Back to the Future of Payroll’ to find out…

1 to 2 years – the T’interweb Hybrid

People say the cloud (aka the Internet) is the future, but with British shoppers spending £68 Billion pounds online in 2011 (and this figure predicted to grow by 13% by the end of 2012) the truth is that it’s already the present!

Users of business software tend to sit in one of two camps at the moment with some preferring the traditional, pipe and slippers approach of Desktop software whilst the younger, more agile and tech-savvy prefer the online, cloud-based route, but which is right? The simple answer is ‘what works best for your business’ but there is a 3rd camp: the hybrid of both desktop and internet software.

Imagine a world where you may have a website that enables your employees to update their personal information either as part of an Intranet at work or via the Internet at home to update their personal information stored in a desktop piece of software, which would certainly help with data accuracy for Real Time Information (RTI). Or an accountant who wants to look efficiency savings to ensure they get timesheets in quickly, whereby their client can log onto a secure web portal to inform their accountant of their employee’s hours? This could help the accountant with profitability.

3 to 5 years – the mobile revolution

Anyone who is a Trekkie (i.e. a fan of Star Trek) will tell you that they were innovators of technology that is used widely today. You may well remember Captain Kirk or Spock using their ‘Communicators’ or Jean-Luke Pickard using a device that looks very similar to that Smartphone in your pocket!

Imagine a world where your employer has run your payroll and informs you via email, SMS or notification to your mobile phone or tablet that your payslip is ready, which you can then send via Bluetooth to your printer? Who invents such witchcraft? If you were in the Middle Ages you would have been burnt at the stake!

10 to 20 years – no such thing as ‘going to work’ or 9 till 5

Imagine a world where there is no such thing as the workplace. In the future, most people will be working from home (or wherever they want to be). The advent of the real global workforce will pose new challenges to businesses so how do you keep in contact?  Could everything be done by the power of thought, speech or blinking?  Tablets and touchscreens already suggest that the keyboard and mouse could be a thing of the past and only seen in museums.

You no longer have ‘work colleagues’ to talk to (the only people you talk to are your family, friends or your global network of Followers, Fans and ‘Associates’) and when you wish to communicate with your payroll software to tell it how much to pay your employees or be paid, you can view your payslip simply by thinking about it and it becomes viewable in your in-eye built PDF viewer and only accessible through your own DNA – now that would be secure!

50 years – the HMRC Payroll Borg Collective

50 years since the introduction of Real Time Information (RTI): imagine a world by 2063 where HMRC will have taken over the United Kingdom by firstly removing the monarchy and all political influence.  They then overwhelm all the banks and merge them into the Bank of HMRC; they will then remove all payroll software and service providers, accountants and bookkeepers from the UK and create a new currency of credits.

All employers and employees will have been assimilated into the Payroll Borg Collective (a Star Trek reference – Google it) where it will be impossible for the HMRC not to know what time you woke up, actually how much effort you put into work, what you had for lunch……in-order that they calculate and run your payroll and then pay you in the new world currency of HMRC credits…

Okay so perhaps my own warped imaginative view of HMRC Borg Collective is a bit tongue-in-cheek in order that I can get a tenuous link to Star Trek in it. However, some of my other suggestions are already on the horizon and if there’s one thing that’s certain it’s that the future will look different to how it does today.

What do you think the future will look like?

Truth is, the future can be anything that our own imagination wants it to be so we’d love to hear your own thoughts on how payroll can and should change so we can implement this in our future developments. Please leave your comments below .

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