3 reasons you need to care about emerging HR tech

In a new book, Sapient Research’s Stacey Harris urges HR leaders to start thinking about future technologies and the issues they present.
By: | September 16, 2021

Technology is changing rapidly and HR solutions are keeping pace, writes Stacey Harris, chief research officer and managing partner for Sapient Insights.

Harris, who will debut key findings from the 24th annual Sapient Insights HR Systems Survey during a mega-session at this month’s HR Tech Conference in Las Vegas, says that HR is witnessing a boom of technologists who are eager to deliver reliable and groundbreaking solutions to the world of HR. And today, they are using advances that were once found exclusively in medical, computing and financial fields. While expressing her enthusiasm for these innovations, Harris—who will also present at HR Tech about strategies to build adaptable HR systemsargues in her new book, Introduction To HR Technologies, that HR leaders need to pay attention to the wave of innovation headed their way and prepare for the impact it will have on how they do business. 

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The following are takeaways from the chapter entitled “Why you need to care about emerging HR technology”: 

Organizations will need to decide at what point the benefits of adopting new technologies outweigh the risks. 

“As technology becomes more commonly adopted in any area, the higher levels of value achieved by early adopters start to decrease, and ultimately not having the technology begins to cost an organization,” writes Harris. She explains that every company must move forward if it is to survive and thrive, even when adopting new technology can be intimidating. “As an HR or IT professional, being prepared and ready for that step makes you more valuable to your organization and offers more options if your role is impacted by the new technology,” she writes.

Technology itself becomes less important than how it is connected to the broader work environment, and how information is captured, shared and ultimately categorized for future learning algorithms. 

In an example, Harris compares artificial intelligence to “a young child who can understand patterns but has only limited judgment.” Like a human who was raised with information and experiences from other human beings, AI systems are just as susceptible to biases, making unwise decisions and acting as blind to human behavior as regular people. They can do these things as we do, she writes, “but 100 times faster.”

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That said, AI’s ability to read and process data faster than a human being “has the potential to improve our lives exponentially when applied to health, workforce and economic challenges,” she writes.

Employees are accustomed to engaging with personal technology and expect the same from their company’s enterprise systems.

Although the consumerization of technology has been around since the evolution of the app generation, Harris acknowledges that it is fairly new to HR. This can cause disruptions in the workplace. 

Related: How this HR leader rolled out a new HCM tool amid a pandemic and a merger

“For the workforce, our personal lives have become more integrated with our work lives, illustrating the point that when HR technology works at its best, it provides the framework through which balance can be achieved for everyone,” writes Harris. 

This merging of personal and professional technologies brings HR tech to a true turning point. Harris warns that cost savings and ease of use will not be the mark of a successful tech rollout; instead, HR should look to “value creation and workforce experiences” as outcomes. 

She writes, “In this new world, transparency will be expected and yet trust is paramount—and the responsibility for enterprise communications may fall to tomorrow’s HR technology environments.”


Click here to register for the HR Tech Conference to hear Harris and other industry leaders explore the impacts of emerging technologies.

Phil Albinus is HR Tech Editor for HRE. He has been covering personal and business technology for 25 years and has served as editor and executive editor for a number of financial services, trading technology and employee benefits titles. He is a graduate of SUNY New Paltz and lives in the Hudson Valley with his audiologist wife and three adult children. He can be reached at palbinus@lrp.com and followed on Twitter @philalbinus.

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