HR Meets Technology: The Ten Facets Of Culture

HR is experiencing a watershed moment. It’s not like the massive shift from virtual punchcards and e-forms to Cloud-based applications and analytics. It’s not the sudden appearance of millennials texting in the staff cafeteria, or the first Internet conference call. It’s the shift to a new paradigm: HR and Technology is essential to the success of an organization. This is culture.

Simply put, HR has become an integral, critical component in the functioning of business, from strategy to operations, customer experience to culture. It’s no longer a tangent, or a bunch of middle managers working in a bubble of regulations and number-crunching somewhere on the seventh floor. Not that we ever saw ourselves that way.

At least that’s the model. It’s not always the reality. But I’m being asked what’s next a lot these days, because, for a range of reasons, there is a tangible, different, next happening in this field. When the pundits and thought leaders are all being posed “what do you see as the future of” questions, I know from experience that the future is probably already happening. It’s a different culture and ecosystem, and we’re already living in it.

Here are my 10 facets of HR meets technology and why culture remains a top priority:

  1. HR as a discipline is gaining traction.The ability to execute serious power lifts using the fact-based, predictive framework of analytics, the Cloud and Big Data has changed the outside’s understanding (and perception) of what HR is capable of.
  1. HR is connected to strategy.As the world of work shifts from local and regional to global, human resources is being reframed as human capital; a total strategic investment and far more than just a facet of operations. 
  1. HR is critical for success.The full-spectrum presence of business on the web, social, mobile and live means an even deeper and constant tie to customer experience. And that constant need for a quality customer experience necessitates the best human interface (as in employee) possible, which means a fuller, more far-reaching program for employee engagement.
  1. HR is part of a competitive reality.Back to analytics here. They’re no longer an option; they’re a competitive necessity. A 2014 Aberdeen/IBM study showed that best in class organizations are 3.7 times more likely to train for analytics skills and 5 times more likely to hire analytics professionals – including talent analytics.
  1. HR is insight plus imagination.To leverage the best metrics and insights requires a tremendous scope of imagination; a vision based on more than streaming data. To fully capitalize on tailored, bespoke metrics that provide strategic intelligence takes top-tier leadership — as in a CHRO.
  1. HR is insightful.A useful stat from Bersin here:14% of companies that have invested in data-focused HR far outperform those that haven’t. Recruitment efforts are two times more effective, and stock returns outperformed their peers by 30 percent over the last three years. It’s a clear example of the future as now. 
  1. HR is a data-driven culture.Culture has to be generated with leadershipto be internalized by an organization: only leadership can embody that culture into every facet and function. The new HR leader has a mandate to embrace analytics and metrics to problem solve, and stitch them into every function of talent management.
  1. HR is multifunctional.Part of seeing HR as a 3-D function is covering all the phases of search and employ: recruitment and an ongoing talent search; performance tracking; training and onboarding; engagement; succession; compensation, recognition and rewards; and pipelining. All are approached with the same data-driven focus, and all are correlated to each other. Rather than disparate functions, these are all seamlessly related.
  1. HR functionality is centralized — or at least compatible.Organizations no longer leap-frog over analytical functions, landing on separate islands of knowledge. All are consolidated into a larger, unified system that is shareable, agile, responsive. But let’s be realistic: given the constellation of single vendor tools now, some organizations may have already begun the investment in HCM in one area, but not in another. In the future, these facets do play well with each other, so the ROI is still a happy one.
  1. HR is brilliant.HR professionals are adept at tracking performance of the past, the needs of the current, and projections for the future. They’ve evolved a skill set that’s sensitive but fact-based, in which talent analytics are the hinge around which a whole range of strategic decisions are made. And that’s how we transform the organization — now that we’ve been transformed ourselves.

A version of this was first posted on Forbes.