Innovative and Disruptive Technologies in HR

By Bala V Sathyanarayanan, EVP of Business Transformation & CHRO, Xerox

Harvard Business Review Analytic Services polled 362 executives, including CEOs and CHROs recently. One of the key findings was that lack of analytical skills is holding HR back. Respondents (24 percent) chose this as the biggest obstacle to using data to make effective strategy decisions.

In recent times, the HR technology landscape and analytics has developed rapidly. While this technology might not be as developed or ubiquitous as other business operational organizations like Marketing, Sales or Finance and Accounting technology out there, HR technology and data analytics is clearly a critical plank of many corporate strategies.

From online recruiting tools to employee engagement mobile apps, the current global HR scene looks very different compared to a decade or so ago. Thanks to innovative and disruptive technologies that cut across almost every area of HR, the potential for talent management success is endless.

A major area where HR technology enables business success today is in the area of global growth. As firms look forward to expanding their digital presence and footprints globally, it is easy for the original culture, business values and strategy to get “lost in translation” as they cross borders and deal with the challenges of foreign lands.

For example, a company headquartered in the US might recognize its employees through a simple reward system which allows them to build points that can be cashed out at a certain level for gift cards, cash etc. How can this company ensure that:

1. Its system of reward is not perceived wrongly in a country with a different culture/attitude towards recognition?
2. The differences in currency value does not lead to an unfairness in the recognition system?

And these are only a few such worries that would give the HR recognition/benefits team of such an organization many sleepless nights in previous years. Today however, HR teams can leverage on new technology that ease the challenge of global expansion and collaboration in the area of recognition amongst others.

Another area where today’s HR technology is bringing clarity is in the area of employee engagement. There are no successful companies without engaged employees. Every area of business depends on developing an engaged workforce and environment. As millennials take over the workplace, the goal posts for successful employee engagement have been moved. The new generation entering the workforce demand that the firm puts more effort in keeping them engaged, interested and provide opportunities to grow. Because most people of this generation are technology savvy, HR is having to rely more on social media technology and other emerging technologies in particular to drive not only engagement but the overall people strategy.

Lastly, performance management! Many firms have come to the correct realization that their process for managing performance of their people is increasingly out of step with their objectives and measuring the same once in a year or six months just does not work. GE recently announced plans to change the way it measures performance. HR technology will need to evolve quickly to ensure the idea and values of performance management are upheld even as firms seek easier and newer ways to accomplish this task.

As businesses try to understand, comprehend and deliver growth outcomes in today’s global, digital, mobile, context centric environment, HR needs to step up and evolve! Firms need to think “outside the box” and consider a broader tool kit with mobile, social and analytical functionality for attracting, engaging and growing individual talent if they keen to succeed!

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