Technology and HR: What you need to know

by Janie Smith10 Jun 2014
Cloud computing, mobile technology, data and analytics – these technologies and more are becoming the future of HR service delivery.
Christopher Bahr, vice president, worldwide smarter workforce, IBM, talks to HC Online about what you need to know.

- How is technology affecting the role of the HR teams in large organisations?

The convergence of cloud computing, social networks and big data are transforming how companies’ HR departments operate, reshaping activities like recruitment, employee engagement, training, learning and career development. These technological advances make it possible for organizations to better understand and predict behaviour, share expertise and match workers with roles to a degree that may never have been achievable before. This degree of precision replaces guesswork with science and enables organizations to establish comprehensive worker development lifecycles that address individual worker skills, desires, concerns and expectations and align them with business goals.

- What kind of processes and systems should HR professionals be looking to upgrade or revamp?

I think HR professionals and business leaders are starting to take a transformative approach to their existing processes and supporting tools. Organisations are starting to realize the benefits of behavioural science, workforce analytics and rich social tools to make more precise and evidence-based decisions that improve employee engagement and business performance. Tools and software leveraging these capabilities can help them assess and understand the skills of their employees, giving a clear view of the gaps in employee skill sets as well as the broader capabilities of your organization. They can also help companies to identify, attract, energize and empower employees with the same precision as other parts of the business. 

- What kinds of new technologies can help make HR more effective?

As a big component of the tools above, organizations are harnessing the power of big data and analytics to generate new insights from vast volumes of workforce data that complement and extend the experience and instincts of its HR teams. The combination of human insight, social collaboration and big data and analytics are truly reshaping how organizations think about their workforce.

- What are the downsides of the increasing role of technology in HR?

Technology will never replace the importance of human intuition but rather complement it. The challenge for many companies will be extending the expertise and instincts of its HR professionals with technology that can analyse high volumes of workforce data at scale to offer greater precision in hiring, retention and employee engagement practices.

- What do HR professionals need to know when looking at using new technology? What should they be looking for/avoiding? 

They should look for agile, cloud-enabled platforms with integrated social and analytics capabilities that span the entire employment lifecycle — from identifying and recruiting a talented new employee to developing them into future leaders. Those insights generated can then be quickly and easily shared across the business to help all business leaders understand their respective workforce behaviours, morale and productivity. 

- In your opinion, which technologies are essential for HR? What makes the biggest impact?

The need to reinvent work is being driven by four major shifts — the rise of social business, big data and analytics, mobile technology and the independent worker. Bringing together each of these four elements and using them to instil precision into how a workforce contributes to an organizations successes is where companies are seeing the biggest impact. 

- What do you think HR will look like in the future from a technology point of view?

Workforce engagement is rising to the top of most c-suite agendas and organizations are looking for ways to reduce the turnover of top performers, improve the quality of new hires and energize its entire employee base. The same technologies that are being utilized by businesses with their customers – social, analytics and cloud – will help to deepen and enrich engagement with their workforce. In the future, the ability to not only predict outcomes, but to drive them through these technologies, will likely play a significant role in HR moving forward. 


 - Christopher will give a presentation called It’s all in the delivery: Identifying HR delivery enablers, systems, processes and infrastructure, at the Executive Leadership Forum, 18-19 June in Sydney. Click here for more information

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