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HR Tech Influencers Discuss Mistakes in the Implementation Process

Prof. John Boudreau and others tackle some of the biggest challenges to tech implementation.
By: | June 4, 2019 • 5 min read

Influence in HR technology comes from many places, takes many forms and continues to evolve over time. When the HRE/HR Tech Conference team met over the winter to work on this Influencers list, we knew it would be important to consider all aspects of influence. Some have more of a direct and immediate effect on products, while others have a more subtle yet longer-term impact. It’s safe to say all, however, are having an important and noticeable impact on where HR technology has been, where it is today and, perhaps most importantly, where it is heading. And that, above all else, informed the decision-making that went into compiling this list, which presents those being recognized in alphabetical order. Click here to see the Top 100 HR Tech Influencers.

Jackye Clayton
Director of Success
HiringSolved

 


Are there certain strategies that are more effective than others when it comes to getting your workforce to use new HR technologies being put in place?

Yes, there are. Start by engaging your team.  Allow the people who will ultimately be tasked with using the software have a voice in choosing what types of technology they need rather than selecting the shiniest new tool. Next, ensure that whatever tool you choose is scalable enough to adapt to the changing business needs you may have. Lastly remember, for the software to ‘stick’ there has to be an onboarding plan that is reinforced by management, functionality that drives efficiency for the business while allows for gradual change and learning for the users.

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How can HR leaders best make the business case for HR technology investment?

To make the BEST business case for HR investing in technology, first, make sure you understand what the business goals are. Often times, HR leaders can easily explain why they need a particular tool but can’t match that up to the business goals. Furthermore, when you write up your business case, make sure you are explaining it in a language your audience understands. Explain how the technology you add will grow the business, not just your team. Next, present your case in a way that maps the tech ROI, the business strategies, and the talent strategy. Finally, while it sounds cliché, people really are a company’s greatest asset – and they all have to go through HR. Never let them forget that.

How is HR technology changing the way people work?

HR Technology changes the way people work by enabling us to be able to measure their output and job satisfaction differently. It also allows us to find any efficiency gaps and take action to decrease them. It is also allowing us to train our employees on a broader scale, which ultimately reduces turnover and increases talent mobility. Furthermore, HR Tech is allowing for more workplace flexibility regarding what types of devices are used, office hours vs. remote work, as well as allowing workers in a way that works best for them.

Perry Timms
Founder and Chief Energy Officer
PTHR

 


What area of the HR function will be most impacted by emerging technologies, and why?

Most people would naturally look to things like HR Administration, Recruitment or Learning & Development, but I’m going to go for OD—Organization Design, Effectiveness and Development. In the main because of the potentially huge design implications of more automation in the workplace; people and robots sharing the workload and the need to be more mindful of the well-being and stimulation of people in how their work is designed.

In acquiring and implementing new technologies, what’s the one or two most common mistakes HR organizations make?

I see far too little attention to user or human-centred design in implementing new technologies. When we make decisions on platforms and applications, HR appears to be caught in a bit of a vendor-led trap – whatever the vendor has, and can budget for is what HR buys. Instead, I’d like to see much more design thinking and specification that challenges the vendors to provide functionality and applications that genuinely enhance the previous incarnation of technology solution for HR processes, not makes it worse but perhaps just on one system.

How is HR technology changing the way people work?

Not enough would be my assertion. I’d like to see HR technologies more integrated into the flow of the working systems people are using for their other work. We all accept that on our smartphones we have all the apps we need to “run our lives”.  Yet when it comes to (particularly) desktop technology in the workplace we have a confusing array of programmes, platforms and systems to use.

I believe that we need that Single OS/Multiple Apps approach to HR Tech in my view. I’m used to having project management, communication, document drafting, material design, curation and other things on their own sites and I can move seamlessly between them as befits my work.

Mara Swan
Executive Vice President of Global Strategy and Talent
ManpowerGroup

 

What’s the single most dramatic shift you see happening in the HR tech space today?

We are seeing a significant shift from HR technology which focusses on driving efficiencies and streamlining processes, to data-driven innovation which enables us to deliver a better and more intimate candidate and employee experience throughout an individuals’ career journey. This is what will fundamentally change the role of HR.

In acquiring and implementing new technologies, what’s the one or two most common mistakes HR organizations make?

Technology should enable a business strategy not the other way around. And organizations should remember that technology without people who are willing and able to use it is a wasted investment. Finding the right balance of people, skills and technology is key.

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What area of the HR function will be most impacted by emerging technologies, and why?

No area of HR will escape the impact of technology. We need to reframe our approach to HR. Individuals expect B2C experiences and leaders expect data-led decisions, not gut instinct.  That said, we can’t forget that although we are dealing with more data than ever before, HR is about people – and helping organizations achieve their goals through unlocking the potential of people is at the heart of what we do.

Eva Sage-Gavin
Senior Managing Director, Accenture Strategy Talent and Organization
Accenture

 

What area of the HR function will be most impacted by emerging technologies, and why?

The “Human+ machine” workforce is upon us. Humans and intelligent machines are already rewriting the landscape of work. Jobs will change, as machines handle rote and administrative tasks while humans are freed to do what we do best—be creative, problem-solve, empathize. An Accenture future workforce survey showed that 60+ percent of workers have a positive view of the impact of AI on their work, with two-thirds acknowledging the need to develop their skills to work with intelligent machines. Investing now in growing people’s skills will unlock human and organizational potential tomorrow.

Are there certain strategies that are more effective than others when it comes to getting your workforce to use new HR technologies being put in place?

A study shows that by 2022, AI could increase employment by 10 percent—and the very technology that requires employees to get new training can help them complete that training. AI-based adaptive-learning systems guide employees by personalizing lessons, coaching and providing feedback. Through the use of virtual reality and augmented reality, we can simulate real-world situations where employees make decisions and receive real-time feedback. Leading companies are also encouraging skill-building through “outside in” talent exchanges with startups, universities, NGOs, and the public sector. A robust learning platform combined with the right talent ecosystem works wonders.

How can HR leaders best make the business case for HR technology investment?

Investment in HR technology should be aligned with overall investment in technology. In their new book, Pivot to the Future, authors Omar Abbosh, Paul Nunes and Larry Downes share that if every company invested in AI and human-machine collaboration at the same rate as the top-performing businesses, they could boost revenues by 38 percent by 2022. Global profits would reach $4.8 trillion. For the average S&P 500 company, this equates to $7.5 billion of new revenues and $880 million in additional profit. Talent fuels a company’s purpose but also its profits—that’s a business case that’s hard to refute.

John Boudreau
Professor of Management and Organization
Marshall School of Business at University of Southern California

 

What area of the HR function will be most impacted by emerging technologies, and why? 

While there are dramatic impacts on the functional processes of HR, such as recruitment, selection, L&D, performance management, and really the entire talent lifecycle, the very nature of how we define work is a fundamental driver of the future, shifting from systems that define workers as employees and work as jobs to systems that atomize worker capabilities (e.g., skills) and work needs (e.g., tasks and projects).  Very few HR systems can truly support and teach leaders and workers to think beyond jobs and employees, to embrace a more fluid and optimal system at this more atomized or “deonstructed” level.

What’s the single most dramatic shift you see happening in the HR tech space today? 

The shift from traditional transactions, to decision support to “experience” is well-documented, but I think that the more dramatic and fundamental shift is toward systems that “nudge” employees, managers and leaders with suggestions and guidance in the flow of their work.  These systems learn from situational behaviors and then use evidence-based decision rules and algorithms to “nudge” where most effective.  This takes HR tech beyond “experience” and beyond the HR function, to become a more natural and constant source of learning, accountability and people optimization.

In acquiring and implementing new technologies, what’s the one or two most common mistakes HR organizations make?  

The most common mistakes are a failure to properly define the value proposition, thus creating confusion as to whether systems are aimed at enhancing cost-efficiency, compliance, service delivery, decision support, experience enhancement, etc.  All of these outcomes are legitimate but they are sometimes mutually exclusive.  Related, there is far too much attention to “return on investment,” and far to little attention to “enhancing decisions.”

How is HR technology changing the way people work? 

At its best, HR technology is teaching leaders, managers, workers, investors, policy-makers and other constituents how to optimize a more fluid work ecosystem, where work and workers can be found and matched based on more “deconstructed” work elements, where work engagements can range from traditional employment to a variety of alternatives that include human-automation collaboration, and where work is perpetually upgraded.

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