The intersection between HR strategy and HR technology

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The History and Future of HR Technology

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The history of HR technologies has for many years been about functionality.  We have been increasing functionality levels for a couple of decades now.  Even the recent robust growth of talent management applications has been about functionality.  Vendors are fighting in a competition to have a “complete talent management suite” and adding functional components in a build, buy, acquire mode.  Companies that have long had HR functionality like SAP went through major functional additions in just the last decade.  However, I think we’ve reached a point where functionality is becoming much less important.  As we focus ourselves on the customer rather than internally on HR, the shift is going towards integration and customer usability

The shift towards integration basically encompasses the need to better understand what data we actually have on our employees so that we can better deliver analytics to our business executives.  We have realized that it really does not matter how much functionality we have if it’s not reportable.  Business executives want to see slices of data that come from our multiple disparate sources and don’t care how hard it is for us to pump data into excel, spin it around 5 times to pump meaningful metrics back out.  They are angry that it takes 3 days to do this.  They expect the same from HR as they get from their SCM and CRM systems.

The shift towards customer usability is much the same as integration, but we believe that as employee’s consume public website like eBay, Google, and, they expect the same organization, usability and informative nature from HR.  They also realize that it’s possible to integrate data from multiple sources and aggregate them into a single informative page.  An employee does not care if HR’s back end systems number in the dozens, so long as they all talk to each other.  God forbid that an employee has to enter the same data into multiple self service systems.

Rather than growing our technological capabilities from a core table, field and data element baseline, I’m pretty sure vendors are realizing the shift in HR focus.  We have enough functionality.  We don’t provide good enough service and high quality touch points to our ultimate customers.  We’ve clearly begun these transitions, and while we have a way to go, the technology focus has clearly shifted.

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2 responses to “The History and Future of HR Technology”

  1. Luis Alberola Avatar

    I could not agree more. To my mind, the second shift is the most important.

    I would even go a step further than what you said: not only are we going through a “shift towards customer usability”, we are even changing the nature of the tools we, as HR, should manage for our employees.

    Up to now, HR and HCM systems have been about “command and control” : reporting and administrative tools that allow HR to improve its own processes.

    I think that the fundamental shift to come is for HR to develop another technology toolbox : the tools that the employees need to actually do their work: blogs, wikis, forums, IM, …

    These tools, in our mind (we at Boostzone Institute) belong in at least three categories: virtual places; communication tools; production tools. A forum, for instance, is a place where you go to solve a problem. The result of a forum can be a structured conversation that HR can use for training and development purposes.

    Just to sum up. Yes, HR technology is shifting. And there is a huge opportunity for HR to acquire further technology skills and expand its influence in the company.

  2. […] terms of a shift towards integration, Systematic HR writes “however, I think we’ve reached a point where functionality is becoming much less important. As […]