Q&A with HR Tech Influencer Stacia Garr


Stacia Garr
Co-founder and Principal Analyst
RedThread Research


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

We believe that the areas of diversity and inclusion will be most impacted by emerging technologies, given that, to date, there has been almost no technology in the space. Our analysis shows that there are more than 120 vendors in the space that are either solely focused on D&I, offer a D&I feature, or are “D&I friendly”–and we are finding new ones to add to our list every week. These vendors offer capabilities to help with understanding diversity and inclusion at every stage in the employee lifecycle, including talent acquisition, development and advancement, engagement and retention, and talent analytics. As leaders are required to more actively enable diversity and inclusion systemically across the organization, they will increasingly turn to these new technologies to do things they have never been able to do in the past. Folks can read more about our research on this here: https://redthreadresearch.com/2019/02/05/discover-the-new-landscape-of-di-tech/

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

The integrated datification of HR is the most dramatic shift occurring within HR today. While we have historically had data within HRIS or integrated talent management systems, that information has lived in disparate systems, making it difficult to see the whole picture. Critically, though, both vendors and practitioners integrating that data with new data sources–ranging from sales or financial data to “passive” data (e.g., organizational network analysis or work productivity tools)–which is delivering new and meaningful impact. This space is so hot that we are seeing a lot of new entrants to the market from outside the HR space, who will push the industry along further. Like with all digital data today, though, there are some serious ethics, privacy, and security concerns that practitioners and vendors alike need to manage.

How is HR technology changing the way people work?

One of the biggest shifts we see is in the introduction of new technologies that can provide in-the-moment feedback to employees. For example, we’ve seen some technologies that listen to managers’ phone conversations with employees and give those managers feedback on their tone, frequency of speaking over others, and how often they ask questions. Other technology will give feedback to any employee on their email habits, such as how quickly they respond (and how that varies by demographics such as gender or location), the tone in which they respond and how that compares to others in the organization, and the frequency with which they email outside of work hours. Still other technology will give feedback to people as they are writing and gives suggestions along the way, including asking if someone really means to use a certain type of language (when it is derogatory or could be perceived as having implicit bias). These technologies are all effectively learning and coaching tools that can be integrated at scale into employees’ day-to-day activities, which is a huge shift from our old models of learning and coaching. As folks get more comfortable with the algorithms behind these tools, we think they will become more prevalent for all employees–hopefully resulting in more people becoming better colleagues.