The intersection between HR strategy and HR technology

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From an applications technology point of view, we’ve all known that integration simply means connecting data from one software component to another.  Often we’ve used integration to mean that functional modules within a single suite (such as ERP – Oracle or SAP) don’t require interfaces.  Other times, we’ll talk to point solution vendors and they will tell you that they have data integration with your core HR system, meaning simply that they have an out of the box (standard) interface that will bring data back and forth.  Regardless of what integration used to mean in terms of the sharing of data, this type of integration is no longer important.  We all assume the different applications can share data, and if they can’t then we don’t buy them.

In today’s world, integration has moved on to bigger and better things.  The first is process integration.  The second is people integration.

Process integration is fulfilled by either of two mechanisms.  The first would be the standard ERP system.  For example, nothing makes a process work quite as smoothly as a well configured SAP system.  They have processes that go through the supply chain, include the appropriate human elements, ending up in production and financials, and all working without a pause or hiccup.  The more common and emerging process integration platform is going to be service oriented architecture (SOA).  Granted, SOA is still emerging, but with so many organizations looking to point solutions, cross functional process integration becomes quite important.  In the talent management world for example, a manager never wants to log into one application to write performance reviews only to wait a few days before the performance scores are loaded into a separate merit compensation application that they have to log into separately.  SOA allows an organization to expose the component data and workflows into a combined experience that theoretically can then be adopted into a unified web experience that does not belong to either application.

People integration is becoming more and more important as well.  While you may walk down the hall and say hello to associates you have lunch with, you may not know that they have the exact competencies you need in your current project.  Networks brought forth by social collaborative networks will not only help us to connect people and share knowledge, but it will also help us identify who are the bearers of knowledge and competencies.

The end state is where data, process and people all can be combined in a single integration experience.  We’re not there yet, but it is certainly the future where everything is not only easier to find, but also easier to do.

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2 responses to “What Integration Means”

  1. – Well versed thoughts on the Peter Principle.  And in my point of view, more justification for being clear about employee’s potential, to maximize their contribution to the organization and avoid setting them up for failure.What Integration Means

  2. Paul Kiel Avatar

    I couldn’t agree more. I have worked with data standards for a long time (especially HR-XML and OAGIS) as a trainer, consultant, staff member and consortium member. I always tell people that technology is the easy part. It is getting people to agree that is sometimes hard. This is people integration. Sitting folks down in a room and hammering out commonly agreed upon definitions of simple or complex business terms is akin to integrating a team and focusing it toward a common project.
    When building or implementing standards, there is no substitute for sitting down in a room and agreeing on enterprise-wide (or at least project-wide) meaning. Its the people integration.
    Paul Kiel

  3. Maggie Avatar

    I am surprised to see that data integration is seen as a given, something ERPs and point solutions are expected to do. While Technology is not the hardest part and it is possible to make any solution talk to any other solution, I often find clients grappling with multiple systems not working coherently making integrated data access impossible.
    The meaning of data and the purpose of integration often gets lost in translation between the business users and the technology team. We have moved to a stage where technology needs to enable and become an inseparabale part of business. But most companies still have separate technology and business teams. Often there is no translator between the two who can make sure technology understands the way business needs to work.
    In my experience it is the lack of such analysts that is a huge impediment to integration.