Tech Trends: A Look at What’s Ahead for HR Tech

Technology touches everything in our lives today, changing both how we consume and how we work. Our team, for example, recently began to experiment with Cisco Spark, a cloud-based collaboration platform that incorporates file sharing, phone calls, team messaging, video chats, and more. That’s just one example of stakeholders leveraging tech tools to become more efficient—there are plenty more. As the market for enterprise tech continues to boom, one area in particular stands out as having an exceptionally robust year: HR technology. In fact, if 2016 is any indication, the HR technology market is about to undergo one of the most disruptive years in a decade. Let’s explore some of the top HR tech trends to watch in 2017.

Top HR Tech Trends for 2017

Josh Bersin of Deloitte has been following the HR tech market for almost two decades, and he recently produced a perspective-packed report on the state of the market. As you can see from Figure 1 below, Bersin found the evolution of HR systems has been drastic over the years as software has become more sophisticated and cloud tools and apps have become mainstream. I like this graphic because not only does it highlight the change in HR tech tools over the past ten years, but it also offers perspective on how the roles of HR personnel have collectively shifted as technology has become increasingly embedded in our lives.

HR tech
Figure 1. Source: Deloitte

Enough looking back. Now, let’s dive into what you can expect in HR tech in 2017:

  • People data collection turns to predictive analytics. Applying people analytics in HR isn’t a new strategy, but look for HR leaders to take it to a new level this year by incorporating predictive analytics into the equation. As tech gets more sophisticated, so do prediction models that can help HR teams see better hiring outcomes, less employee turnover, and a more efficient distribution of human capital.
  • Employee experience becomes paramount. Employees are expected to use a variety of tools required by HR, including scheduling software, benefits portals, digital feedback platforms, and more. In the past, these tools often lacked integration and had clunky, cluttered user interfaces that made for a poor employee experience. When functionality reigned supreme over experience, though, these challenges often fell to the backburner. Not anymore. Today’s employees want to be treated at work like they’re treated as consumers, expecting their experience with digital tools in the workplace to be seamless in terms of layout, ease of use, time to value, and more. HR tech in 2017 will lean in when it comes to user experience, functionality, and integration.
  • Marketing and HR collaborate to produce better hires. Marketers are known to be a pretty tech-savvy bunch, adept at targeting messaging across multiple platforms to best reach an audience. HR has been tapping into this capability for a few years now, using marketing principles during the recruiting and hiring processes with tools like Candidate Relationship Management systems. Look for this usage to jump in 2017, especially as hiring companies begin to market the employee experience (see above), not just the salary.
  • Performance management takes a backseat to coaching. Performance management has long been a hallmark of many existing HR processes. That, however, may be coming to an end. Of course, it’s still necessary for employees to be evaluated and for that data to be recorded for future use—the approach, though, is what’s about to change. Especially with the continued influx of engagement-driven Millennials in the workforce, look for more organizations to phase-in frequent coaching—a tactic emboldened by collaboration software and the accessibility of mobile apps—instead of traditional, anxiety-inducing reviews delivered from across a boardroom table.

What’s Next?

It’s undeniable that tech shapes your workplace. Today, it’s easy to get caught up talking about things like tools and bottom lines, benefits and timelines. At the end of the day, though, companies are run by teams of real people with real goals and challenges. Culture is an important part of disruption, and HR inherently plays a substantial role in developing and fostering that culture within your organization. Enabling them with the right technology to meet actual human needs is the basis for all the tech trends I mentioned above, and all the ones we’ll see in the future.

Does your HR team have any digital go-tos? Do any of the trends I addressed here sound like something you’d want to explore further? Tell me in the comments.

photo credit: Crestfelt Photography Matrix anyone? via photopin (license)

This article was first published on FOW Media. 

Revamping The Status Quo In 2015: 4 Trends In HR Technology

What have we seen as the hot trends in HR technology this year? It’s a rhetorical question: put another way: what aren’t the trends? HR technology in itself, having profoundly changed the game, is the hot trend: it’s heated up our field in ways that allow us to leverage talent on an entirely different level, regardless of the size or scope of an organization and irrespective of the end goals, from short-term to future-casting.

We saw further evidence of just how far we’ve come in October, during the HR Technology Conference and Exposition in Las Vegas. Once we might have all discussed the concept of tech for HR. The conference witnessed the rollout of out new HR tech products by the 60-fold. There is no more etcetera, just a shared understanding in just how critical tech is in terms of pushing the boundaries. HR’s best practices now include a far larger sense of infinite functions. And a key difference now is that we’re not future converts to this brave new world, we’re the creators and the consumers.   

If I had to pick them, here are the top four hottest trends:

Cloud Computing: Expanding Innovation

Shifting information and HR applications to the cloud has changed our perspective in myriad ways, allowing us increased flexibility; far greater innovation and agility; the opportunity to consolidate and better control costs via a focused management system; and more: it’s a practical paradigm shift with an amibitiously border-free frontier. It prompts a far more inclusive sense of intelligence about the world of work.

 Big Data: Enabling Objectivity

We’re using Big Data to attain a new objectivity in terms of talent management, redefining the questions we ask ourselves — and the answers we can create. Tapping into a singular aggregate that can be parsed in endless directions and variations enables us to replace that old-fashioned amorphous hunch with a far more objective, full-spectrum view. It’s the sheer scale that pushes us into that objectivity — and pushes innovations to handle it more precisely, more fluidly.

Predictive Analytics: Pushing The Future

Trending: our graduation from smoke and mirrors to mathematically based future-casting. What keeps the human factor front and center is combining this new objectivity with a very real sense of human behavior and patterns: we can make decisions based on a broad range of predictors; fill gaps before they happen; maintain fluidity in the workplace and productivity as well.

Best Of Breed And Integrated Software: Customizing Tasks Without Losing Options

Whatever the particular merits of best of breed versus integrated software in talent management, I think the debate is a bit too candy shop at this point. Here the trend needs to hew a more intentional course of convergence rather than further separation (software innovators take note). Whether a best of breed spectrum or an integrated application, the key is being able to focus and function. That’s the grand takeaway of this shift: accounting or recruiting, succession planning or training, the tools are about talent; about people, not about numbers.

We can’t assume that just because we’ve now innovated our way into infinity that an agile wisdom is built in. Nor can we assume the bells and whistles are intelligent enough to know our best intentions. And I haven’t even mentioned mobile / social and readiness: whatever we do, it has to live on mobile and social or it’s overlooking a substantial part of the workforce — not to mention how we work these days.

In terms of readiness, when we adopt HR technology may seem to be related to size, it’s easier to consider massive changes on a smaller scale, but that’s a fallacy: actionable insights, pipeline building, whatever, this has to be a shift across the board, and another trend is going to be that we change the very status quo of talent management.

Already, a 2014 survey of some 270 companies by PriceWaterhouseCoopers found that 70 percent of companies surveyed with HR and payroll in the Cloud had less than 5,000 employees — small and medium scale is leading the shift. But 57 percent of larger companies with more than 5,000 employees are already enabling performance management with cloud-based software, and 32 percent of all companies were planning on shifting recruiting strategies to the Cloud by 2016. And companies of extreme size and scale are already leveraging the tech power of serious (and social) recruiting capabilities to source the best and brightest.

Photo Credit: Big Stock Images

A version of this article was  first posted on Forbes on 8/28/15.

5 HR Technology Trends: HR Isn’t The Stagnant Step-Sister Anymore

Here’s yet another case where what happens in Vegas should not stay in Vegas: the HR Tech Conference. With $812 million venture capital investment pumped into HR and recruiting tech in the first half of 2015, this one’s going to be hot. Sure I’m geeked on it. Now that products and rollouts run the functional gamut you should be too, considering what’s worth the bite. It’s a big bad buffet.

So what are these HR Technology trends? Here you go.

1) Go for today, later, and even later than that

Assess your present and future needs. Ask the hard questions: where are your blind spots? Is your social and mobile recruiting game on? Are you able to run global, across the board training? Can you onboard everyone, regardless of position, fluidly, and dovetail their tasks in a click? How do you track engagements? Can you plot succession scenarios? And will your HR tech be able to handle a radical increase in size, functionality and scope?

2) Remember the Prius

Not so long ago, we suddenly had the option to go to a commercial car dealership and buy a Prius. It took some getting used to — so quiet, so streamlined — but we did. It wasn’t cheap, but it was a game changer. Some of us wanted to be in on that, and as soon as we had the funds to get one, we did. The novelty’s over: hybrid is part of a better normal. We’re about to be there in HR. So if you don’t want to be left behind, it’s high time to make your case with corporate: the upgrade to stronger tech must happen now.

3) Integrated or regular?

You don’t need one-size-does-everything. A colleague smartly noted that just because software is integrated doesn’t make it awesome — or really, even integrated; in some instances, the cost of integrating with legacy software as well is simply prohibitive. If a company does have the luxury of making a single vendor purchase, you may well be ahead of the game. In that case, make sure the tech you choose can give you everything, from a powerful, agile way to generate analytics, both in terms of operations and predictions, and can still play well with as many others as come into that sandbox in the near future.

4) Counter-intuition for non-engineers

Kudos: we’ve finally gotten the image of a gold watch engraved with “50 years of service” out of our heads. Now we can stop pretending we understand what’s next, and just practice embracing it. HR is a reactive field by its nature, but tech is changing functions in altogether surprising ways. Machine learning, for example, is going to change this field. It will give everyone a way to act and access faster. It will help us become more productive, more connected, and more aware. And it will inevitably have a profound impact on talent recruitment. Bring it on.

5) Research will save us

Unsurprisingly, a whopping 87% of the companies surveyed in Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends research cited engagement, retention and culture as the key issues in HR. The key to meeting that trifecta of needs lies in those powerful tools that can provide actionable data and insights. We’re seeing some of those innovations taking a multifaceted approach — they really are customizable and responsive, and getting even more so. So be selective. Every company is different, but we all face this common goal, and there are more and more ways to achieve it.

We’re all looking for the best paths to better HR functionality. But there’s also that horizon, which is now greatly expanded. So there’s what we do, there’s what we can do, and there’s what we will do. The point, right now, is to do it.

This article was first posted on Forbes.