Over the years, worktech solutions of all types have repeatedly promised to transform the workplace. Still, employers aren’t so sure. In fact, it can feel like an impossible dream if your tech stack has ballooned into a jumble of loosely coupled platforms, applications, tools, and data.
Sound familiar? If so, it’s time to rethink how you tie together all the elements in your worktech ecosystem. But sorting through an alphabet soup of platforms — ATS, HCM/HRIS, ERP, CMS, TMS, LMS, LXP, and more — can be arduous.
Of course, that’s only the tip of the iceberg. You’ll also need to consider sub-level features that reach across systems. For example, is SSO fully deployed? Are you prepared to support enterprise-wide video or XR capabilities? Can you leverage APIs or SFTP for data sharing? And how will you demonstrate ROI to your CHRO?
The potential pitfalls are rampant, but employers don’t have a choice. To attract and retain high-quality people in today’s competitive talent market, a stellar employee experience is crucial. And the right worktech plays a central role in bringing that vision to life.
What’s Behind This Worktech Challenge?
1. An Overwhelming Array of Options
For example, in the learning space, you can find platforms focused on content creation and curation, skills and competencies development, microlearning, training resource management, learning analytics, and much more. Similarly, among applicant tracking systems, features may include resume parsing, candidate screening, interview scheduling, job board integration, AI-based chatbots, and so on.
This barely scratches the surface of worktech functionality. Yet even more features are on the way, thanks to advances in generative AI, process automation, predictive analytics, and other machine learning-driven capabilities.
In other words, the options are overwhelming. And the landscape is becoming even more complex. Any organization could spend years trying to find clarity in the noise this saturated market generates.
2. A Disjointed Experience
Another challenge involves existing legacy infrastructures that result from ad-hoc purchasing decisions. Too many organizations suffer from a proliferation of systems, selected in silos, to address specific business needs over time.
What’s more, if decision-makers embrace the “sunk cost” fallacy, they’re likely to hold on to existing technology. But this only causes disjointed infrastructures to persist.
Highly cohesive digital experiences come from minimizing the need to toggle between technologies. Also, by combining data with actionable insights, you can ensure that system administrators don’t become full-time reporting specialists.
Every platform in your worktech stack needs to be flexible, so you can seamlessly integrate, share, and synchronize data. This ensures your ecosystem will scale and reduces disruptions in an otherwise harmonious employee experience.
3. Functional Silos
Talent, HR, and learning teams typically work in parallel, but not together. They don’t communicate or collaborate on the tools decision-makers invest in. This only compounds the proliferation of work tech tools and flawed sunk-cost logic.
The result? Perhaps your ATS doesn’t share data with your HRIS, so they don’t work together seamlessly. Your LMS may not sync with your LXP. Or your LXP may not share data with your HRIS. The potential disconnects grow with each incremental system you add.
Ultimately, you’ll find multiple dead ends, isolated data sets, and organizational blind spots. All these issues drain productivity. In fact, estimates say employees waste as much as five work weeks each year, just toggling between applications.
Obviously, this causes frustration for employees. It also harms platform engagement and adoption. Even worse, it contributes to employee dissatisfaction, disengagement, and even turnover.
So, What’s the Solution?
1. Take the Long View
As you choose platforms and vendors, let your long-term interests guide you. Look as far into the future as possible. Aligning worktech with your long-term strategy helps ensure it will support you well beyond the initial contract. Here are several “future-proofing” tips:
- Be sure each platform and application is designed to integrate beyond its own proprietary products.
- Select vendors with robust research and development resources. You should expect to see tangible examples of recent innovations. Evaluate each vendor’s recent product releases to understand how frequently and effectively the solution has improved over time.
- Vendors may also help you look ahead by sharing a brief overview of their product roadmap. And if you both sign non-disclosure agreements, you can more freely discuss how well a vendor’s product strategy aligns with your organization’s objectives and expectations.
- Don’t hesitate to ask specific questions about innovations of interest to you. For example, these days, generative AI, process automation, and other machine-learning capabilities are hot topics. Vendors who are ahead of the curve won’t hesitate to respond. Those who continuously adapt and innovate are far more likely to keep up when the next disruptive enabling technology or killer app enters the worktech space. The best vendors can demonstrate a consistent track record of advances and a clear vision for the future.
With so much at stake, you don’t want to leave these decisions to chance. If you don’t have sufficient expertise or bandwidth to develop a game plan or identify appropriate platforms, you may want to rely on an independent IT solutions architect or Consultant for insight and advice.
2. Pick the Best Worktech Providers
Speaking of vendor selection, choosing the right partners can be a bit of a minefield. You can find numerous suggestions and “top 10” lists for any flavor of HR platform. But keep in mind that each of those lists is based on the author’s point of view. Are your goals and their criteria aligned?
Ultimately, nothing beats conducting your own thorough research to learn about various platforms, understand each vendor’s use cases, and verify the results their customers have achieved.
No solution will be perfect. But some will be a better fit for your business. When engaging with a new vendor, I look for green flags like these:
- The company has a clear mission and vision, with industry-leading partnerships and evidence of consistent, sustainable growth.
- Sales representatives ask numerous intelligent questions about your specific needs.
- You have access to a comprehensive demo or trial period, so you can test the platform.
- They readily share user experience details – how they optimize UX and how this contributes to overall tech stack efficiency.
Ultimately, you’re looking for partners who will serve as an extension of your team and celebrate your wins. When they are invested in your success, everything else falls into place.
3. Focus on Open Platforms
Why does this matter? Open platforms are not just a work tech feature, they are the way forward. And they are proven. Many well-established enterprise tech stacks already depend on open systems. Atlassian, WordPress, and Zendesk are all examples of open platforms that support millions of businesses, globally.
The strength of open platforms comes from the flexibility of publicly available Application Programming Interfaces that make it easy for systems to exchange data. By leveraging APIs, your IT team and development partners can efficiently build desired functionality into your platforms, and continue to customize as your needs evolve.
Open Means Freedom to Explore Options
With an open platform, you aren’t limited to the functions, products, or partners defined by your chosen vendor. You have more latitude to experiment with various work technologies so you can configure the best solution for your business needs.
For example, at some point, you’ll probably want to build on the core capabilities in your LMS. Perhaps you want to offer a dedicated talent intelligence marketplace to improve internal mobility, or a coaching app for high-potential talent, or a just-in-time learning experience for frontline workers. Open systems make it possible to add these enhancements incrementally.
Closed Means More Complexity and Cost
On the other hand, a closed platform is just the opposite. Closed systems limit you to a predefined set of available data, features, developers, and partners. Any changes or additions require a skilled external developer or solutions integrator with access to proprietary knowledge and tools — and a budget to match.
All things considered, an open ecosystem makes sense for most organizations. This gives you the flexibility to decide for yourself which functionality works best for your workforce, along with the freedom to implement changes while preserving your core investment. You can prove and disprove the effectiveness of different platforms with relative ease because your technology foundation is integration-friendly.
The Result: Worktech That Works
Talent, HR, and Learning Working Together — Not Alongside
Your organization’s various “people” functions may already be collaborating. After all, most software buying cycles now involve stakeholders from HR, Learning, IT, the C-Suite, and others.
However, nothing is more valuable than ongoing visibility into related organizational functions, and direct communication with counterparts in those business areas. This helps you better understand others’ buying priorities. Plus, it helps you recognize where others’ teams, platforms, and efforts can be more fully aligned for more effective, cost-efficient operations, overall.
You may even discover that one team’s problem could be solved by another team’s platform.
For example, nearly every HR team is grappling with how to attract the talent they need in today’s tight labor market. Most organizations rely on relatively costly recruiting solutions to solve internal skills shortages. Still, many roles remain unfilled. Yet upskilling from within saves an estimated 72-90% over the cost of hiring new talent.
Now, think of this challenge from the perspective of a worktech ecosystem where platforms are integrated and working cohesively.
One solution could be to closely connect a talent intelligence marketplace with an employee upskilling platform. This lets you consolidate and mobilize valuable skills data, so you can efficiently identify which employees have desired proficiencies and which are strong upskilling candidates.
As a result, your organization could save time and money, while also improving business productivity and performance. Ultimately, this could move your organization forward in using skills as a strategic factor that improves workforce agility, innovation, and responsiveness.
Of course, this is only one example of the benefits that come from an open, integrated worktech game plan. Many more opportunities are getting attention from organizations these days. What workforce challenges are you ready to tackle with this approach?