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HR Tech Influencers Address Impact of Emerging Tech

Influencers including Josh Bersin weigh in on how technology will transform work and the workplace.
By: | April 24, 2019 • 10 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.

Josh Bersin
Advisor
Deloitte Consulting LLP

 


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

Almost every area will be impacted but the biggest will be the integrated employee experience. We are reaching a point where standalone talent and core HR systems are too complex and we need integrated experiences, based on employee journeys. That’s the biggest opportunity in the next few years.

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

The biggest mistake companies continue to make is define “systems replacement projects” that focus on integrating the back end and buying big new platforms without a careful design of the employee experience. The days of HR technology being useful mostly to HR are over – if these systems are not useful and integrated into employee’s work experience they are poorly used and a waste of money.  My research is now showing that many expensive cloud HCM replacement projects are not making employees’ lives significantly better, so a new set of experience tools are being developed.

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

If the HR technology team does not have a clear productivity business case to drive the project I think just a wholesale replacement of old technology may not pay off.  Many of the new systems are actually compelling to employees, but many are not.

Gretchen Alarcon
Group Vice President, Human Capital Management Strategy
Oracle

 

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

AI, machine learning and digital assistants are revolutionizing every function in HR, most immediately and significantly impacting recruiting and onboarding.

AI and digital assistants are streamlining and automating the entire recruiting process: screening resumes, identifying best-fit candidates and even answering commonly asked questions around career paths and job descriptions. Able to replicate recurring processes, digital assistants are also effective at driving onboarding, guiding new employees to helpful assets and using machine learning to continuously improve the process.

This allows HR professionals to focus almost solely on high-impact projects vs. administrative tasks, completely changing the role and expectations of traditional HR.

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

It’s easy for organizations implementing new tools to focus too solely on the technology capabilities and forget about the most important factor: user experience.

When selecting and integrating new tech into your organization, it’s critical to remember that the success of your investment relies on employee engagement. Ask yourself, beyond the bells and whistles of the technology, how will it work for employees? Will it be easy-to-use and user friendly?

HR technology needs to replicate consumer applications in order to be adopted—if it’s too difficult or complicated to navigate, the entire platform and investment will fall flat.

How is HR technology changing the way people work?

It may seem counterintuitive, but I believe AI can re-humanize the way we work.

The rise of tech in our personal lives created new employee expectations. We want things simpler, quicker, more accessible—and we want meaning in our work. Technology can help us achieve that.

Emerging technologies allow us to access information anytime, anywhere. And by eliminating the work we don’t want to do, it creates more time to invest in emotional intelligence and form personal, human relationships.

This will force the workforce to adapt by building more soft skills rather than the technical skills that technology can automate.

Michael Krupa
Senior Director, Digitization & Business Intelligence
Cisco

 

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

Diversity and inclusion will become fundamental to who companies are and how they will succeed in this age of digital transformation. Emerging technologies will help create uncommon D&I solutions and will scale impact by driving innovation, digitization and adoption of D&I solutions.  These solutions will leverage artificial intelligence, machine learning, data and analytics.  AI/ML solutions to help reduce bias in recruiting and job descriptions and the use of advanced analytics to provide intelligence to business leaders as they create their diversity and inclusion strategies.

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

The single most dramatic shift today is the emergence of Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning in both HR Technology and technologies that make decisions that impact the workforce. Every vendor in the Talent Lifecycle is looking to add AI capabilities to their solutions.  The challenge for vendors and for companies creating HR technology solutions using AI/ML will be explainability in the algorithms and to reduce bias in the datasets and algorithms.

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

One of the most common mistakes when implementing new HR technologies is failure to explain to the employees and leaders the value or ROI of the solution. This should be tied to a thoughtful communication and change management strategy that not only prepares the workforce for the new HR technology solutions but clearly explains how the new solution will address a problem or gap that exists today. That problem or gap should use the language of the business and not the language of HR.

Ben Eubanks
Principal Analyst
Lighthouse Research & Advisory

 


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

The biggest shift is in artificial intelligence applications, but not the ways most of us would expect. The real value in AI and algorithms isn’t just in automation. There’s value there, but the real benefits come in augmenting the humans within our organizations. Put it this way: think about the best recruiter in your entire organization. AI technology can help all of your recruiters perform at or near the level of that high-performer, dramatically improving the quality of your talent acquisition function.

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

One of the biggest mistakes HR leaders make when implementing new technology is assuming or expecting the technology to make up for incorrect or broken processes. Adding a layer of technology simply means you’ll be more efficient at what you’re doing, whether those decisions are correct or not. I’ve yet to meet an HR leader that wants to be highly efficient at making the wrong decisions, so iron out your processes and get them to the point where they need to be before jumping in with a new application.

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

The value of HR technology isn’t in some amorphous metric such as employee engagement. HR leaders need to speak the language of the business and understand the key measures of their specific industry and company, then align their business case for HR tech with those specific factors. For instance, manufacturing firms may prioritize productivity and safety, so the HR team should identify solutions that support those elements. On the other hand, healthcare organizations care about patient experience and nurse retention, so HR leaders should look at how to connect those particular dots with the solution they’ve identified. By making these specific connections, they can more easily get the budget approved and get the technology in place to increase their impact on the business.

Pat Wadors
Chief Talent Officer
ServiceNow

 


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

CHROs are starting to really focus on the employee experience and how technology can manifest a better work experience/ increase engagement and innovation. Technology can be in service to employees and our customers so keeping the design/workflow consumer-like/human-centric we will get the best possible outcomes and engagement.

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

We tend to look at technology in a siloed fashion—not considering the overall complexity for our employees. We tend to solve for discreet process issues vs looking at the overall experience and interface. The other real risk is customizing core ERP/platform solutions which inhibits their ability to keep up with new generations of software and learn from other customers. This is costly and stagnates some teams when the complexity is too great to risk changing out antiquated technology.

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?

How can HR leaders best make the business case for HR technology investment? Technology enables an amazing employee experience and if we map the employee journey map—tie it to desired outcomes—then leveraging technology to manifest that vision is imperative. Showing how these affect engagement and productivity with real metrics can be the foundation of the business case.

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