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Why Payroll should embrace disruptive technology

Payroll & Change

The words Payroll and Change don’t always sit together comfortably. In fact, for most people, terms like SafeRisk-averseTraditional, or Stable fit better with Payroll. This is correct as Payroll isn’t something to mess around with is it? Payroll exists to pay employees accruately & on time. This is why payroll can feel left behind in the race for technology & change.

The flip side of Payroll is HR. When it comes to technology, HR are often at the cutting edge. Why is that?

The answer is simple. Tony Vickers-Byrne, HR Director of Public Health England put it best when he said, “Doing good should be central to HR’s goals”. This is correct, HR exists to support employees while ensuring wellness at work. The issue is, there is no one way to do this because employment is a shifting landscape in which employees expectations constantly evolve. It is this complexity that has led HR professionals – all with their own strategies and ideas to experiment with technology to help meet that goal of doing good.

Can Payroll embrace disruptive technology?

The answer is yes, but not like HR due to the consequences should things go wrong. But that’s no reason to stay entrenched in traditional comfort zones.

‘Disruptive’ technology is technology that replaces old ways of doing things. For example, smartphones. Imagine a world without smartphones. No FaceBook. No WhatsApp. No Netflix & No Paypal. The smartphone has revolutionised the way we interact with friends, family, institutions & media. When SD Worx launched online payslips in 1999 this was met with concern around security & access. Fast-forward to 2018, and no credible provider is without a mobile payslip. In short the smartphone has disrupted the market and most people have moved on from paper.

Decisions, decisions

So Payroll can embrace disruptive technologies, but needs to be selective in the ones it adopts.The speed of change is unprecedented, so picking the right technology to support Payroll is tricky. To help, here are SD Worx’s picks of disruptive technology that can support Payroll.


Forget innovations like Bitcoin, Blockchain is much more. A decentralised, distributed database, Blockchain means that your data is stored across many nodes rather than one central place. Using Blockchain virtually eliminates human error and protects the data from tampering. In addition to the guaranteed accuracy of records, such a process leaves a highly traceable audit. All these things have become critical as the need for cyber security and the protection of personal data gets more complicated.

Machine Learning

This term has been around since the 1950’s, but it’s only now that it has become truly viable for businesses. Machine learning is AI that learns from data without being programmed to look for pre-determined outcomes. Machine Learning can be used to find payroll data patterns and present them back to the user. For example it could identify that overtime costs have been increasing by 5% every month for 5 months, through to Team X always sends data in late and if provided earlier it could improve quality by Y.

This type of insight ensures a more accurate and controlled Payroll while allowing Payroll to focus on tasks that matter.


Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean we’ll be replaced by androids (not yet, anyway!).

Robotics allows businesses to automate repeatable actions. Have data that comes into Payroll via email? Robotics can check these emails and transpose them into the Payroll with no human interaction. Look at your Payroll, identify those repeatable tasks and the chances are that Robotics could be used to automate most of those non value add tasks.

Payroll can absolutely embrace disruptive technology. The key is finding the technologies that can further improve the delivery of Payroll – whether that be accuracy, experience, efficiency, insight, or all 4.

And remember, great things never came from comfort zones.