One of the bonuses of my role is learning about how companies are using technology to improve recruiting, employee engagement, create workplaces where continual learning is encouraged, and meet with leaders who are bridging the gap between traditional HR tools and new, cloud-based systems of engagement. It’s pretty cool stuff.

Last week I had the privilege of participating in the IBM Big Data & Analytics Summit. The company’s commitment to HR and workplace technologies has grown with its focus on Big Data, Analytics and Cloud – not to mention Social – solutions geared to help businesses support employees who are adapting to the changing workplace. In short #Cloud4Data rocked. I met a lot of really smart and talented people along the way.

Although we’re seeing a resurgence in American manufacturing capacity (check out the Detroit-made watches here,) the biggest opportunities for talent in this country will always require advanced technologies. Those technologies, increasingly, are driven by insight mined from data, interaction enabled by social, and the flexibility, power and adaptive qualities of the cloud.

Because employees in this challenging market need to continually increase their skill sets, it’s essential for companies to create a culture in which employees can gain new skills. Adaptive learning systems hosted in the cloud offer companies a direct, cost-effective path to supporting a culture of continual learning.

Where does Big Data fit in?

It’s not just B2C companies that stand to benefit from learning more about their stakeholders. We might assume most interactions take place between businesses and their consumers or users, but equally vital and impactful are interactions with employees. Analytics help companies learn more about all the players in their talent ecosystem. Employees are a huge part of the ecosystem, because each employee contributes to a company’s overall value, culture and brand.

The cultural benefits that accrue to companies and leaders with a commitment to learning are enormous. We all learn in different ways. A friend of mine has auditory processing disorder; she needs to read, hear, and see words to assemble the pieces into working knowledge. Another deals with the daily challenges of ADHD. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle, relying on a mix of learning techniques: lots of notes, lots of diagrams, lots of instructor interaction. The companies in the lead today accommodate these very different learning styles by creating a culture of talent, with the appropriate tools, to support a learning culture.

In my work I talk to many companies that are either pioneers in cloud, data or social technologies targeted to the workplace, or early adopters of these technologies.  We have come a long way in less than a decade to have these tools available to employers and employees. It’s with a sense of curiousity, and anticipation, that I learn more about how workers and the workplace are changing.

I’m not a technologist in the strict sense of the word; I’m a humanist. I celebrate and follow people and talent. I follow how technology is changing because I care about the world of work. Events and initiatives like the #SHRM14 conference, the CandE Awards and the technology conference I attended last week reassure me that employers are on the right track as they adopt HR technologies which leverage Big Data, cloud and analytics and most importantly, find the balance of keeping it human. Let’s not forget – People hire people. This will not change. That’s a good thing. I’m excited to be back at #SHRM14 – See you in Orlando. 

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