Q&A With HR Tech Influencer Katherine Jones


Katherine Jones
Independent Analyst


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

While AI and natural language applications (both oral and written) will create major new platform plays, the greatest change may come from use of blockchain in talent acquisition. Rather than leaving education and background experience up to chance or creative interpretation, candidates would have a verifiable trail of information, from grades to past jobs to arrest records. Hiring parties can determine what data makes sense–as they do today. Only in cases, for example, in which a candidate will have fiduciary responsibility might past bankruptcy data appear. Candidates can control irrelevant data (past medical records, for example), but data relevant to a position would be blockchained. The ramifications include no fudged college records or degrees, and perhaps the ability to ensure that child molesters are not driving school buses or DUI arrestees are not driving for Uber. Blockchained records for talent acquisition would disintermediate background checkers, as background information would be both current and trustworthy. AI functionality can decipher relevancy of past history to the job requisition, providing a filter up front that recruiters and hiring managers cannot see today.

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

Understanding the staffing impact of new cloud solutions is a major issue. The advent of cloud solutions put HCM software acquisition in the hands of HR leaders, in some cases for the first time. Analysts like us touted the value of the cloud in terms of support costs, access to innovation and amalgamating disparate HCM systems–but failed to help companies anticipate the “people power” they would have to dedicate to ensure the success they anticipated.

The pace of new releases, which often cover many different HR functions, require those with functional expertise to evaluate; HR policies must now cover what gets implemented with each release with an eye toward the greater corporate good, not just what is easiest; and solid understanding of where and to what end underlying AI functionality is embedded. The failure to plan and budget for adequate post-go-live solution management impedes delivery of the value promised in these cloud solutions as “day jobs” get often attention over thoughtful new release management.

How is HR technology changing the way people work?

Primarily, HR technology improves and eases the way that HR works, through integrating of data across the many functions of HCM, providing actionable analytics and decreasing redundant activities. More to the point, however, is how HCM technology can positively impact the employee base other than HR, and indeed it can. An employee (outside of an HR professional) is hired to positively address the business into which he or she is hired. Anything HR–or HR technology–can do to foster that can change the way people work by removing impediments to their “day jobs.”

Just-in-time training in the flow of work–relating to the individual’s job–is just one example; facilitating easy access to benefits or corporate information needed by employees when they need it through intuitive mobile software is another. Easing access–whether by replacing building badges and a plethora of passwords with fingerprints or other biometric means–allows workers to get where they need to go physically and electronically faster. Software that addresses compliance adds value to both HR and workers, such as that which can help contractors navigate the rules under which they are hired and assist HR with the rules about their contracts.

Increasingly, technology that addresses the lack of transparency in areas such as pay and gender equity or the lack of diversity–once able to actually offer practical solutions for solving these issues–will positively impact the way employees feel about work and their place in it. Working side by side with robots and drones will offer openings in coding, management and maintenance for skilled workers–and corporations will have to create new learning opportunities for their unskilled workers to attain appropriate skill levels. Done right, future technology will facilitate a seamless–and dare we think pleasant–work environment that is safe, fair and challenging for all workers.