What are the most common mistakes HR organizations make when implementing new tech?

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.

Bill Kutik
Chair Emeritus
HR Technology Conference®


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

Since 1998, the HR Technology Conference® has been anticipating or explaining all the dramatic shifts in HR tech. This year will be no different with the new emphasis on teams–the real way all corporate work gets done but a workforce structure largely ignored by HR systems for 48 years. One of the leading champions of teams, Marcus Buckingham, will be keynoting on Thursday, based on his new book, reviewed here. ADP will be previewing its next generation HCM software based on his work: creating, managing and measuring teams.

JUST IN: These 7 new HR technologies will be on display at HR Tech

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

Emerging technologies deployed properly will have their greatest impact on the workforce, not on HR. While HR will select, shepherd and most likely pay for the software, employees from the C-suite to individual contributors will be the ones using it to boost productivity, increase communication and collaboration, finally achieving some of the promises made by three generations of HR tech–and still not yet delivered. HR will sometimes need to lead by getting out of the way.

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

The single biggest and most deadly mistake HR departments make is picking software first and creating strategy afterward. Vendors promise solutions to your problems–and that bright, shiny new penny is awfully attractive–but the terrible truth is only you can solve your own organizational problems. And software should be chosen and implemented that will enable your own solution to your own problem because technology will never solve it by itself.

Shaunda Zilich
Global Talent Brand Manager


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

Using data to drive to a decision on talent. We are already in a world where a person wants to fit their purpose to what they do everyday. We are entering a world where the data collection along the way will cause us to be predictive to help talent find fit and proactive on the employee experience. Matching resume hard skills to a job description will shift to be looking at data to be predictive!

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

The biggest mistake is being ‘distracted by the shiny penny’. We do this in life. So many times an executive sees a ‘cool tool’, the team demo’s it and buys it. A good question is “What pain point is this solving for?” I like to keep a directory of ‘suggestions’ of ‘cool tools’ and let them know I will reach out when this is a top priority need.

How is HR technology changing the way people work?

We are not just collecting data now or making decisions, we are using data to help us drive to decision. We are getting smarter on not just connecting systems but connecting data and making the full lifecycle of an employee from unaware to aware to lead to candidate to onboard to employee to alumni. Collecting data and following the career path with data throughout the entire now customizable process.


David Green
Managing Director, The People Analytics Program


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

The entire HR function (like every other function in the business) will be impacted by emerging technologies. This will see repetitive tasks replaced by machines and a complete overhaul in how companies hire, onboard, develop, train and manage their workforce. For HR to evolve (and arguably survive), it simply has to increase its value and impact – to the business through providing insights that help improve performance and productivity, as well as to the workforce through designing and delivering an enhanced employee experience across the talent lifecycle.

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

The most dramatic shift I am seeing is the welcome move away from the ‘one size fits all’ HR technologies of the past towards a more personalized ‘nudge’ based and data-driven approach. This helps, for example, managers make decisions in real-time as well as provide them with insights about how their behaviors positively or negatively impact the performance and engagement of their team. For employees, these technologies can provide personalized recommendations in areas such as career paths, learning and job opportunities. However, technology alone isn’t the answer as it has to be allied to new processes and above a fresh mindset for HR – doing things with and for employees rather than to them.

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

Primarily by focusing on the business and not HR. HR leaders need to understand how their investments support the business strategy and/or help solve the challenges the organization has. What is the business problem we are trying to solve (or the strategy we want to help execute? How will this technology investment help? How will we measure the impact of our investment? Those are three questions HR leaders should consider before they write the check for new technologies.

Jenny Payne
Manager of Talent Management and Engagement
Tops Markets


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

One of the biggest mistakes HR organizations can make when implementing HR technology is assuming that the technology can and will fix faulty processes. The technology has to be viewed as the tool or the enabler, not the cure-all. If you have a process that’s broken or ineffective, even the best technologies available are not going to fix it. Then we fall into the trap of blaming the technology for “not working” or the solution provider for “not understanding our organization” when in fact we never really examined how we’re trying to go about accomplishing the task.

Another mistake is going into the selection process viewing everything only through the lens of HR and not thinking about the end user. Who is your actual audience? Employees? Hiring Managers? We have to clarify that and define what their needs are related to how the technology will be used. A key part of a successful implementation is ensuring user adoption, and to effectively achieve that we have to thoroughly understand what’s going to work best for those end users.

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?

One of the most important strategies when it comes to getting your workforce to actually use new technology is involving key end users in the process right from the beginning, as early as the selection process. Those are the folks who are closest to the processes the new technology is intended to enable or enhance, and they are the ones who will bring to light questions and issues that HR may not even think of. So for instance, if you’re implementing a new ATS, you have to involve your recruiters and hiring managers. And don’t just involve them in the design process, but also make them the champions for the new technology with your larger user population; they’ll be able to relate back to other end users the key benefits, as well as serve as key trainers during your roll out process.

How is HR technology changing the way people work?

That’s a question that I think you have to look at from two sides – how is it changing the way people work, and how should it change the way people work. Ideally, HR technology (or any workplace technology, for that matter) should function in much the same way that the technologies we are accustomed to outside of work do; to make our lives easier, to streamline the things we need to do each day, to enhance our capabilities and make us more effective. They should be easy to use, intuitive, and readily available in the flow of our everyday lives. If that’s how technology works for us in our lives outside of work, it’s a reasonable expectation that our workplace technologies should mirror real life. However, I think in a lot of organizations there’s still a long way to go to get there. We take small steps and implement technologies to enhance a particular process, but may not look at workplace technology holistically and in the context of everything employees need to accomplish on a daily basis. It requires a little bit different mindset, and requires involvement beyond just HR departments.

Jerome Ternynck
Founder and CEO


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

Perhaps we’re biased, but within the HR realm Talent Acquisition (TA) is quickly evolving from an operational into a sales & marketing-like function. TA leaders across all industries are starting to recognize that, just like winning new customers helps the organization grow externally (via revenue), acquiring talent helps companies grow internally (via productivity). While revenue-generating functions need to build a pipeline of leads, nurture deals, and close deals, TA teams need to build a talent pipeline, nurture candidates, and ultimately hire the best candidates.

The emergence of next-gen Talent Acquisition Suites have empowered data-driven decision making, with end-to-end recruiting capabilities in one system of record. Businesses can now quantitatively assess their ability to attract top talent and align that with business objectives. As this area of technology evolves, we’ll continue to see TA teams use advanced analytics & marketing tools to inform and executive their TA strategy to ensure they are hiring the right people, on time, and on budget.

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

If talent acquisition is evolving into a sales & marketing-like function, then we need to stop measuring recruiting success via cost savings alone, and start measuring it through quality of new hires and its impact on productivity. This, in turn, builds the business case.

Instead of using cost-per-hire, which incentivizes teams to be cheaper (not better), we think about recruiting costs in relation to the production we expect to get out of new hires – this is akin to customer acquisition costs. We measure this though Hiring Budget, which anchors recruiting costs to new hire payroll, thus allowing us to appropriately quantify our investment.

For speed, instead of using time-to-fill, which forces teams to hire aimlessly faster, we ask: are you filling the right jobs on time? We track this through Hiring Velocity, which allows businesses to better forecast their ability to acquire the people needed to achieve business growth targets.

Finally, there is no industry standard to measure quality of hire. For this, we use Net Hiring Score (NHS), which gives us a combined, NPS-like score for both new hire fit & performance (i.e. is the new hire happy and is their manager satisfied).

Together, these three metrics have helped our customers better understand their TA strategy and identify investment opportunities for growth.

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?

1. Ensure that the HR technology is selected and supported by actual users, in addition to decision makers. In the case of a talent acquisition suite, research and validate that system administrators, recruiters, as well as hiring managers will adopt the product. Internally this also means to drive alignment between your R&D and go-to-market teams in prioritizing customer needs.

2. Secure full endorsement from the leadership team. For HR technologies, this means investing time and resources to transform processes and up-skill employees with the buy-in of the CHRO and any key functional leaders.

3. Tie technologies to business need. Fully demonstrate how the technology will impact the work people do and the business, and ensure that a champion in in place across all essential stakeholder groups through informal networking early on (prior to rollout).

4. Adopt through osmosis. Have people who are proficient with and passionate about the new technology to work alongside those who need to learn the skills and processes. Go beyond typical training workshops but set up more intimate buddy and education systems to promote a new tool. Work with marketing and communications to highlight program successes through case studies and campaigns. This all, of course, assumes the best technology was selected in the first place.