Technology is HR’s biggest asset

Last week was a bit of a tech week. Starting in Sydney at the incredible HR Tech Fest and ending in Berlin at a digital “bootcamp” (including a visit to the games developer Wooga) looking at the latest consumer digital developments. Having finally got back to some semblance of normality, there are a number of things buzzing around my mind, causing me to reflect and think about the future of our profession.

1. Our employees are consumers, and as such are increasingly immersed in technology. If my expectation of the world is one where I can do pretty much anything at the tap of a screen, then why would my expectations be any different at work?

2. HR technology has changed and is changing. The future of technology is not the big, sole vendor, enterprise systems (although they are still dominant) that restrain you to one platform and one solution. The future is individual, integrated multiple vendor solutions that are best fit for your organisation.

3. We have the opportunity to excite and engage employees through the use of technology, rather than report on and process them. In the same way we willingly spend our time (and money) on consumer technology, the right solutions will lead the right behaviours and engagement within our organisations.

4. Cloud based and SaaS (software as a solution) technologies improve our ability to implement technology more quickly and at lower cost. Gone is the need for long project plans and implementation projects, we can trial, measure and develop a lot more easily. But successful implementation still comes down to good training and communication, nothing has changed there.

5. The opportunity to take our HR technology out of the work environment and in to the home, the commute, the coffee shop or the pub is going to become crucial. Being fully mobile, fully portable, whilst remaining secure is going to be a challenge, but our expectations as consumers is to access the content and services we need, when we need them, wherever we need them.

6. Good technology means good data. And intelligent use of data, as we know, is critical to understanding and leading our organisations to be better.

But the big tech-away (did you see what I did there?) for me, is that as an HR leader, you need to understand and embrace the opportunities offered by the new generation of technology solutions. It isn’t good enough to say, “I’m not a technology person” in the same way it isn’t acceptable to say, “I don’t do numbers”. The HR leader of the future is going to be immersed in technology and see it as their greatest asset.

If that isn’t you, then its time to brush up. Otherwise, you’d better start looking over your shoulder.

13 comments

  1. Mat Davies (@RafaDavies) · November 24, 2014

    Nothing to add. Spot. On. I worry for those who don’t think this matters, though..

  2. Matt Alder · November 24, 2014

    Fantastic post, I agree with all of your observations. The “I’m not a technology person” is ridiculously common and is often worn as some kind of Luddite style badge of honour. The world is changing and that change is getting quicker, the most successful companies and people will be those who can continuously adapt

    • Neil · December 1, 2014

      Completely agree Matt, it is a bit like saying “I don’t do telephone”

  3. amandasterling · November 24, 2014

    Technology is HRs biggest asset?

    I can see the tech enthusiasts clapping their hands with glee for that new system, gadget, those reports that are going to rock their world, and the justification that if we just put in place this great new tool then all our problems will be solved including that their people will now be able to work from home as well as at work. Yay! More work! And they will be awesome because they’re so technologically savvy!

    Which is not what you mean, is it?

    Because actually, I see a bucket load of people whacking in that technology without doing all that simple stuff like communicating to people, understanding their people and what they need, capturing and putting in great data so that they actually get something useful out of it, creating an environment where people get the space to breath, think and live, with the technology, not despite it.

    Because technology isn’t HR’s biggest asset, it’s people. Eww assets, am I allowed to call them that?

    • Neil · December 1, 2014

      “We have the opportunity to excite and engage employees through the use of technology, rather than report on and process them. In the same way we willingly spend our time (and money) on consumer technology, the right solutions will lead the right behaviours and engagement within our organisations.”

      “But successful implementation still comes down to good training and communication, nothing has changed there.”

      “Good technology means good data. And intelligent use of data, as we know, is critical to understanding and leading our organisations to be better.”

      Is what I meant. Which is why I wrote it.

      And I disagree aboput people being the biggest asset. If that were the case, companies would be investing in people and not technology, internet shopping wouldn’t exist and we wouldn’t know one another.

  4. LFR · November 26, 2014

    People are our biggest asses.

    • Neil · December 1, 2014

      Only in America. But then I blame the junk food.

  5. Jacky Hilary · November 27, 2014

    I agree with you Neil that we in HR must embrace technology. But I think Amanda calls it right too. Technology should be a means to an end – not an end in itself.

    • Neil · December 1, 2014

      What is the end?

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  8. Mollie Markey · March 15

    Technology is ever-changing and I agree that we need to grow as professional communicators in this environment. Technology could be our greatest asset, but could arguably also be our biggest downfall. We need to engage in technology not just let it consume us.

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