More than the sum of their parts? Understanding the threads between HR Technology trends reveals even greater potential for organisational impact.
The HR Technology marketplace is awash with buzzwords, clambering to represent the latest and greatest technology trend – Software-as-a-Service, Employee Self-Service, Mobility, People Analytics, Consumer-like User Interfaces, and numerous others. But interpreting the impact of the new wave of HR Technologies means more than just understanding the stand-alone value of each individual trend. More substantially, HR Technology trends are best considered hand-in-hand as part of a new perspective on the place of HR, to fully understand their relevance.
Consider the growth of Consumer-like User Interfaces as an example. Certainly, the delivery of modern and intuitive user interfaces to employees does represent a clear improvement of sorts (leading to reduced training requirement, an improved efficiency of systems use, reduced volume of help desk calls, and so on). But on its own, it actually falls a long way short of delivering an organisationally transformative impact. So how might this individual trend represent a crucial part of a bigger, more impactful, and more transformative picture?
Working backwards, the bigger picture we envisage might involve the deployment of tools to better enable productivity and recognise employee value, improving metrics such as time-to-productivity, employee turnover, and employee satisfaction scores. Such a picture might also involve the intelligent utilisation of people data for improved decision making – answering questions such as: “Which of our talent acquisition channels most reliably source our high performers?” “Where are the talent-related obstacles to realising our organisational strategy?” and “How can we optimise spend across recruitment, learning, and retention strategies to deliver skills against our forecast resourcing demand?”
Achieving this bigger picture necessitates a refocusing of the HR function, to spend less time on administrative activities and more time delivering higher value-add people insights that make a difference. A key enabler is the alleviation of administrative demand made possible with Employee and Manager Self-Service (another technology trend, there) – whereby individuals become empowered to access and own their own data, and therefore take ownership of activities that would traditionally have relied upon HR involvement. The link here is a clear one between effective Self-Service adoption, and the freeing up of HR time to deliver the higher value-add people insights.
In turn, the delivery and expansion of this crucial “enabler to HR refocusing” (Self-Service) – in such a way that employees will actually adopt and use it effectively – depends upon the provision of employees with the simple, intuitive, and efficient means to do so. And so, we’re back at the Consumer-like User Interface trend.
Put simply, there are threads to be found between the HR Technology trends we hear of (even those with the least apparent link to strategic level benefit) and the bigger picture of delivering the redefined HR function that matters at an organisational level. Here is the thread again:
a) Consumer-like User Interfaces, enable ->
b) Increased adoption of Employee Self-Service, which in turn enables ->
c) Refocusing of HR resource time away from administration, and towards ->
d) The delivery of higher value-add insights from People Data, resulting in ->
e) Organisation-wide impact and strategic-level benefits
So, numerous technology trends and many buzzwords out there, but some clear threads to be found from the smaller pieces all the way through to realising the bigger picture.
What does this mean for an organisation reviewing the HR function? Well, we should recognise there are wider-reaching impacts of technology trends when they are framed together in an appropriate context. We should understand the potential of current HR Technology trends to transform the role of HR itself. And we should establish a clear “bigger picture” HR vision, informed by the threads between technology trends, and their resulting potential for meaningful change.
James is a Senior Consultant in the Deloitte’s UK HR Applications practice, specialising in SAP and the SuccessFactors product suite.