Is mobile technology a gimmick or viable channel for HR?

by 11 Nov 2010

It took two years to sell a million iPods, 78 days for iPhones and 28 days for iPads. Make no mistake, the way we work, play and love, will never be the same.

The unprecedented connectivity, convenience and power, as well as the added advantage of fun, is revolutionising the way information is delivered, consumed, and responded to.

This convergence of information and mobile technology sets the stage for business applications, transforming them into highly effective and valuable solutions. There is no doubt that empowering employees and managers with information to make decisions in real time accelerates the profitability of business. But will it add value to HR? A lot will depend on the type and nature of information and the decision it requires; is it strategic or operational?

Consider the humble leave request. A high volume, low value operational workflow requiring, on the most part, a yes or no response. But before you make that decision, you need up to date leave balances and perhaps a Gantt view of who else is on leave during that time. A pretty simple decision and a perfect candidate for a mobile application when all the facts are presented.

Likewise, in the area of workforce management, workplaces that primarily operate on timesheet based employees, the activities that involve planning, scheduling, approving and monitoring are perfect contenders for mobile technology. Applications will act as mobile clocks capturing the start and stop times as well as ‘geotagging’ an employee’s location. Shift availability can also be broadcast, allowing employees to respond and lock an approved shift directly into the rosters. These kinds of operational requests and notifications lend themselves to rapid decision making on the go.

Mobile technology is also one of the new frontiers for talent management. Recruitment requests can be approved on the go and positions advertised as well, offering smart phone-designed job portals with one click application for candidates. Although very effective operationally, the real value lies in closing the gap between the recruitment process and social media channels and giving HR the finger on the pulse of the workforce, existing or prospective.

While it makes sense for managers and employees to complete operational workflows from a mobile device, trying to complete more strategic actions like performance reviews or candidate assessment is probably not a good idea. We need to be conscious of over engineering the process and losing the message in the medium. A successful strategy embraces the benefits of mobile technology, extending a personal channel facilitating engagement and tapping into the real time conversations that are happening on the web. In this regard it will be another, but very effective, medium for HR to wield.

The promise of transforming a business into a mobile enterprise is undeniable. Mobile technology is fast turning organisations into enterprises with highly productive workforces, streamlined operations and satisfied employees and customers.

Organisations that embrace mobile Intelligence will become leaner, faster, smarter decision-making machines resulting in more business, more revenue, and greater competitive advantage. But making the leap from being a somewhat connected business to a fully mobile enterprise requires you taking time to determine your readiness to embrace new technology, and the challenges that come with it.

– Ari Kopoulos, Employee Connect