Q&A with HR tech influencer Ben Brooks


Ben Brooks
Founder and CEO
Pilot Inc.


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

TALENT MANAGEMENT! HR tech has addressed the more commodity-like “plumbing” aspects of HR. Emerging technology is quickly moving to help address the more vexing elements of HR including: shaping culture, tapping into unrealized talent potential, empowerment of employees, greater self-directed work and other trends in the future of work. What were once elite professional service offerings for the top-of-the-house become democratized products that get scaled down the hierarchy. The business case for future HR tech will be less about reducing HR operational cost, and instead will be focused on increasing the ROI from the comp and benefits line, now the No. 1 expense in most service businesses.

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

We are too cautious in HR! I often see HR moving far too slowly and taking a backseat to other corporate functions. Traditionally HR is one of the laggards to adopt emerging technologies in the C-Suite–just compare us to marketing! We need to be more adaptable and quicker to deploy emerging technologies. I also notice that often times HR departments prematurely seek “enterprise-wide solutions” with cumbersome RFP processes before testing solutions with smaller groups to validate and enhance larger roll-outs–or discover multiple solutions are needed. By being more adaptable and decisive, HR can truly be the change agents we’ve long aspired to be, breaking down barriers to innovation.

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

Do not make this about HR or the HR budget. This must be about the organization’s strategy and driving performance as measured by the KPIs everyone focuses on. The technology you buy should be positioned to make the organization as a whole successful, not just the HR function. Saving 2% of the HR budget is peanuts compared to increasing the output of total people spend by 2%. Focus the technology investment towards solving persistent organizational problems and driving desired performance. And prove it with numbers! As Mike Bloomberg says: “In God we trust; everyone else bring data.”