Q&A with HR Tech Influencer Chris Havrilla


Chris Havrilla
Vice President of HR Technology and Solution Provider Research
Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP


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

The reality is every single HR function will be impacted significantly by emerging technologies. One challenge with adopting these technologies will be for HR teams to think less about their silos and more about the convergence necessary to tackle the forces, disruptions, and demands that will continue.

For instance, talent acquisition was traditionally tapped to solve attrition issues, instead of working on root causes. However, looking at some of the bigger issues that loom ahead — such as talent, skill, and population shortages — it is going to take a network of teams to address Talent Acquisition.  HR will need to shift its thinking on several fronts, including viewing Talent Acquisition as “accessing talent,” learning & development as “learning in the flow of work/life,” and talent management as “addressing internal talent mobility challenges.” Even the convergence of HR and IT will become more and more prominent as we use technology to address productivity, experience, etc. — and as a catalyst to reinvent the HR function and its professionals.

To that end, while AI and Machine Learning will play a huge role as the emerging technologies driving all this reinvention of work, workforce, and workplace, I believe it’s emerging technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality, and certainly blockchain that have an even greater potential to impact and revolutionize HR. There will be no room for simple, incremental change there — when those technologies gain traction, the impact will not be small.

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

One of the biggest challenges in HR tech today is the extraordinarily fast pace and breadth of change, innovation, and data insights — all occurring alongside increasing and varying demands from the labor force and increased competition for accessing talent. These factors are forcing companies to rethink their approach to their workforce and many are overwhelmed. One thing is clear: incremental change and status quo will no longer be acceptable; we are watching closely for the organizations that are taking action — and how they are going about it.

Deloitte found in our 2019 Global Human Capital Trends report that there are huge deltas between the awareness and pressure being felt by organizations, versus the actual readiness and action we are seeing across each of the trends. We see huge opportunities for organizations to jump ahead of the pack if they have a bent toward strategy development and are working with their partners to co-create solutions — thus allowing them to start doing the real work to tackle these challenges (productivity, experience, impact, performance, growth, etc.).

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

Easy — among the most common mistakes that HR organizations make when implementing new technologies is lack of overall strategy development, and not doing “the work” to change how they work and how work is done in conjunction with bringing in technology. Technology is often looked at as a silver-bullet solution to problems and challenges, so implementation becomes the primary focus. As such, organizations find they have not made work easier or people more productive, they just added more work, steps, or complexities — and increased dissatisfaction and frustration. This type of outcome is a big reason why Deloitte has been creating a body of work around AI in HR, and developed our first High-Impact Technology Strategy study — to help companies and solution providers with resources and content to tackle these issues.