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Here’s how to make sense of the dramatic shifts in HR tech

Our HR Tech Influencers discuss how leaders can effectively navigate the changing tides of technology.
By: | October 21, 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 to work on this Influencers list, we knew it would be HR techimportant 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 full list of the Top 100 HR Tech Influencers.

Jason Lauritsen
Keynote speaker, author and consultant

 


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

I think recruiting and specifically interviewing/selection is likely to feel the biggest effects in the long run. Our model of selection today is still largely predicated on the human ability to evaluate other humans which we know for certain is extraordinarily unreliable. As better science-based tools and practices emerge for evaluation and matching of human capabilities to job needs, I expect a majority of traditional recruiting jobs to become obsolete and replaced by technology.

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

The biggest mistake is treating technology as the solution rather than a tool. Tools exist to facilitate processes, not the other way around. Too many organizations skip over the hard work of first defining the processes needed to solve their specific problems. This leads to falling in love with certain features or functionality of technology that shows well in the sales phase but may not actually solve a specific problem within their organization. It also leaves them trying to retro fit their processes to the technology, which is a recipe for headaches and heart break.

How is HR technology changing the way people work?

On one hand, I’m hopeful that the latest evolution of HR tech tools is building new positive habits around appreciation, seeking and using feedback, learning on the fly, and finding greater agency in managing their own career paths. There are so many great tools out there. Which leads to the other hand, where I worry that all of these tools are actually creating more distractions and unintentionally making us both less productive and creative. Until the functionality we refer to today as “HR Tech” live and work within the tools we rely on to do our daily work, we’ve still got a lot of work left to do. A lot more innovation is still needed.

Jen Benz
Senior Vice President, Communications Leader
Segal Benz

 


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

A common mistake is to underestimate the promotion, behavior change and change-management efforts needed to make the technology a success. Too many organizations consciously or unconsciously think “if we build it, they will come” and don’t plan for robust communication or the changes to workflow that are required. The result is a lot of great tools that go unused.

Another common mistake is focusing on the solution first instead of the business need. There are so many incredible new providers that it is easy to say “I want that!” before fully understanding the problem you’re trying to solve.

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?

The best thing you can do is understand your workforce and then build technology to meet their needs. When you launch a new solution that solves a problem and helps people be successful, they are going to want to use it. Second, plan early so you have the resources to not just launch the new technology but drive ongoing adoption. A great way to drive adoption is to include high-value content that people want or need (like your employee discount, time card or scheduling). Finally, build in ways to gather user feedback so you can continuously improve the tools.

How is HR technology changing the way people work?

New technology is changing so much of our work and personal lives. HR technology is certainly impacting work in many of the same ways that consumer technology impacts our personal lives—making information more accessible, giving us smarter ways to accomplish things and connecting us with others 24/7.

It is important to remember that employees’ expectations are changing dramatically, and people have less patience for things that don’t work. New entrants to the workforce expect to have the same seamless experience at work as in the rest of their lives.

Andy Spence
HR Transformation Director
Glass Bead Consulting

 


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

The way we match work with workers, including traditional hiring is the area of the HR function that will be impacted most by the use of AI and blockchain technologies. As HR responds to the digital age, we will replace the tired resume/CV with digital career profiles. New technology will enable verification of identity and work credentials to quicker and more transparent payment mechanisms. This will enable more efficient peer-to-peer work matching platforms which will help the job market for certain categories of workers.

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

The most dramatic shift to HR technology is how we manage our career data. Currently we freely give our career data to help us find work, and this data is then sold to recruiters. This has created an inefficient market with high costs for employees or employers. A new infrastructure for work is being built where individuals own and control their verified career credentials. This will change how we find workers, suitable work, manage our careers and our organisations—and of course changes most of our current HR Tech infrastructure.

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

Buying new technology has become so much easier with cloud-based technology, this has given us many opportunities including greater agility and lower risk. However, we have lost some old school rigour along the way. Any new technology, or indeed organizational change, needs to start with the right questions. Rather than ‘How do we implement AI/blockchain in our organisation?’ we need to ask ‘How can we make our business better and what tools will we need?’ and ‘What is the evidence that this change will achieve our goals?’

Derek Belch
Founder and CEO
STRIVR

 


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

We’ll see the most dramatic technology shift in learning and development. Recent technological breakthroughs and demographic shifts mean roles are changing. Established career paths are at risk of being eliminated due to automation, while many workers are in need of much more advanced technical knowledge than the prior generation. Onboarding times are also being compressed, with more to learn in a shorter time. As a result, maintaining a well-trained, highly engaged workforce is more and more challenging against a backdrop of business leaders looking to improve performance, reduce safety incidents, enhance productivity, and reduce turnover. The opportunity to reinvent performance is here, and transforming employee learning will be the key to unlocking it.

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

Jobs are changing rapidly, yet the way many organizations train employees hasn’t. Traditional training is inefficient, costly and time-consuming. At the same time, measuring employee performance has been challenging and bias-ridden.

Immersive learning in virtual reality offers employers a revolutionary way of assessing, training and managing people. It simulates real-world scenarios in a safe, controlled and engaging environment. Immersive learning combines cutting-edge VR with advanced learning theory, data science and spatial design to enable employees to experience real-world situations before they ever step foot on the job. And it also offers unique engagement and attention data, enabling a true account of performance.

How is HR technology changing the way people work?

Immersive technologies are at the forefront of a transformative workplace revolution. They are fundamentally changing the way people learn, providing on-demand, real-world simulations that lead to real-world behavioral change. With immersive learning, people can now learn in the flow of work, so there is minimal disruption to the business and maximum impact on performance.  Immersive technologies boost engagement, confidence and morale. Unique performance insights also allow learners to self-identify areas of strength or areas that need improvement.

It’s a transformative technological revolution in the HR space, and one that’s going to become commonplace in the years to come.

Boris Groysberg
Professor of Business Administration
Harvard Business School

 


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

Thanks to emerging technologies, training opportunities will soon be available anytime and people will not have to wait months for the next training session. Furthermore, training opportunities will be highly customizable, allowing firms to align them closely with their strategies. They will also be more interactive, which should increase their effectiveness. In our HBS background note “Developing Leaders”, my colleagues and I write, “Lectures can be used to familiarize participants with conceptual ideas and material, but interactive techniques must be employed if the abstract knowledge is to translate into new skills.” Emerging technologies will play a pivotal role in increasing access to these kids on interactive opportunities.

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

There is a shift happening in technology today with the illumination of the pervasive gender gap in the field, thanks in part to the #metoo movement of recent years and some high-profile lawsuits against tech companies claiming discriminatory practices based on gender. Some tech firms still have biases in their hiring practices, pass over deserving women for promotions, compensate women less than their male counterparts, or foster a culture that looks the other way in cases of sexism of sexual harassment. As a result, firms today are expected to do more to attract and retain female talent. Data science and AI will provide some useful tools to help companies build more diverse and inclusive cultures.

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

The first mistake is not considering how technology fits with the business strategy of the firm, instead investing in “the flavor of the month”. The second mistake is not generating buy-in nor effectively managing implementation. Firms do not manage the implementation of new technology as a real change management project and underestimate the time required to do it. Next, firms roll out a new technology in its entirety, instead of in small pieces, which would allow them to pivot as new information or data arrives. Lastly, firms neglect to train non-HR professionals on how to use and leverage the technology. Unfortunately, most firms struggle with implementing new technologies with only a small percentage realizing significant positive ROI.

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