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Which Areas of HR Will Be Most Impacted by Emerging Technologies?

Starr Conspiracy, ADP and others explore how AI, machine learning will transform HR tech.
By: | August 20, 2019 • 5 min read

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 important 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.

Ray Wang
Principal Analyst and Founder
Constellation Research Inc.

 

 

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

Automation through artificial intelligence and machine learning will transform HR tech in ways beyond our imagination. The goal of augmenting humanity will result in more personalized work experiences and a democratized access of decisions available for every individual. Every individual will have their next best actions presented. Every choice will create digital feedback loops that will learn the context and attribution of each action to suggest better actions in the future. This will lead to more precise automation and provide every organization with better insights to make smarter decisions.

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

Most organizations forget the form follows function. Enamoration with one vendor based on brand may often result in a five- to seven-year escalating vendor-lock-in cloud contract instead of investing in the right offering. The other big challenge is when an organization decides that a technology is a commodity and forgets that software works for people and not the other way around.

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

Regulatory compliance and operational efficiency usually win the CFO over but the gains in employee experience and ability to transform work experiences are what captures the hearts and minds of the organization. Every successful HR leader knows how to find he balance between logic and emotion.

Dan Staley
Global HR Technology Leader, Oracle HCM Cloud
PwC

 

 

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

Make no mistake, emerging technologies will impact every area of HR.  However, the talent acquisition function will continue to be impacted significantly.  Not only has the scarcity of talent and the shift towards a gig economy already forced the function to source and attract talent differently, but emerging technologies (AI, IoT, chatbots, RPA, gamification, etc.) are changing how candidates and employers find and communicate with each other, how candidates are vetted/screened, how interviews get conducted and hiring decisions made, and how new hires are on-boarded.

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

While 69% of organizations list “software functionality” as their number one selection criteria for acquiring HR software (based on PwC’s HR Technology survey), many do not focus enough on their handful of non-negotiables. If there is a certain practice or policy that is very specific to your organization and it cannot be changed, make sure it takes center stage over the hundreds of common requirements that the vendors all handle in largely the same way.  When it comes to implementations – especially during migrations to cloud (SaaS) – leaders must be open and prepared for change.  The top cloud HR implementation challenge is the unwillingness of organizations to give up their antiquated, custom processes and policies and embrace (adapt to) the software as delivered.

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?

“If you build it, they won’t necessarily come.” Adoption should be a critical focus for any HR implementation. It starts with strong and active executive sponsorship. Next, representatives from the impacted stakeholder/user groups should be included early in the implementation process to ensure that their voices are heard. Once these two important components are in place, an effective change management, training and communication plan is needed that regularly and clearly articulates the value of the new application and provides a feedback mechanism for the impacted users. Lastly, adding gamification components to the application is an effective way to reinforce desired user behaviors.

Michael Moon
Director of People Insights
ADP

 

 

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

Technologies such as Robotic Process Automation, machine learning, and AI will have a strong impact on both HR Shared Services/Operations and HRBPs. For example, Robotic Process Automation, can be used to automate high-volume transactional processes that are repetitive in nature. This can help improve efficiencies resulting in lower labor costs and improve the overall quality of data in HR. When RPA is used HR Shared Services can shift their focus from the transactional elements of their role and instead handle exceptions, while HRBPs can get faster access to data and insights while having more confidence in the accuracy of the data due to reduction in processing errors.

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

The single biggest shift I am seeing is in the proliferation of vendors who are building technology with the employee end-user in mind. Whether it is a new vendor building scratch or existing vendors updating their current functionality, this shift began well before the latest employee experience wave hit HR. Vendors have been focused on finding ways to simplify the products and the processes they support. Chatbots, guided tours, in product videos, and AI are examples of this. These mechanisms are being used to help employees find answers faster, provide more access to self-service and assist in better and more efficient decision-making.

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?

There are two primary factors that drive technology adoption in the workplace. Perceived ease of use and usefulness (or effort and performance expectancy). The software must not only be easy to use and require the least amount of specialized training it also needs to support the natural flow of how work gets done and allow users to be more and not less efficient. To help facilitate both factors spend time understanding how work gets done today. What are your employee’s pain points? Take inventory on what they need and include that in your decision-making process.

RELATED: Learn more about the upcoming HR Tech Conference and Expo

Lance Haun
Practice Director
Starr Conspiracy

 

 

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

HR analytics, or whatever you want to call the data layer on top of workforce information, is going to do incredible things in the next decade. When we think about all the information that is collected about work, and all of the things that are hard to quantify today, advances in AI and scalable cloud computing can actually help us make sense of it all and take action. This is also why it will be important to be thoughtful about how we use data and be intentional about issues like diversity and privacy.

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

The shift isn’t fast, but when we look at the changes happening in talent management—rethinking core pieces like performance, learning, and recruiting that pre-date HR tech solutions—it actually feels like we’re moving mountains. It’s actually really tough to undo so-called best practices like annual performance reviews when other, more effective ways of managing talent emerge and are enabled by technology. I’m impressed by the progress, even if we have a long way to go.

How is HR technology changing the way people work?

Great HR technology puts the actual work people do in focus. It’s either removing obstacles that are unrelated to the work, like enrolling for benefits or getting a payroll question answered or unlocking more potential that’s inside every person in an organization, like putting relevant resources in the flow of work or helping them develop. Ultimately, every HR technology has to account for one—or both—of these issues to be relevant in the future of work.

Erin Spencer
Senior Research Analyst
Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP

 

 

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

When acquiring and implementing new technology organizations are often excited by new features and functions offered by a vendor, and rightly so. However, many organizations work to fit their old processes and procedures into the functionality offered by new technology and neglect to take the time to consider how new tech can help optimize, streamline, or discard outdated processes. Organizations should take advantage of the change opportunity presented by software acquisition to reinvent the way work’s being done to truly benefit from a new technology implementation.

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?

The strategy I in no way recommend is to buy a new system without user input, host a lunch-and-learn on a Friday with soggy pizza, disable the old system, and expect users to come in on Monday excited and ready to do their jobs they way they’ve always done them before with a new piece of technology. This way leads to disgruntled employees and system resentment. The key to any change is to over communicate in advance to be sure that users are ready and excited about the system rollout and using new features and functionality. Every implementation should have an executive champion, leadership buy-in, and a transition team to be the first point of contact for any questions. To set the team up for success be sure that users have login information, documentation, and training before the go-live, and schedule Q&A sessions for users after the system is launched. Change isn’t always easy, but steps can be taken to alleviate the worst of the pitfalls with proper planning.

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

HR technology investments can be a difficult case to make. It’s not always easy to quantify a ROI on technology, but every organization has outcomes or goals they want to achieve, and those outcomes should be the starting point for a business case for HR tech. Take the time to talk to both the users and the decision makers and figure out which problems are the most pressing for an organization to solve and where tech can add value. Your organization may be interested in increasing engagement, while another may be focused on reducing time to hire or labor spend; however, once an organization understands what it’s trying to solve for they can then use those desired outcomes to build a case for technology investments.

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