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.