Innovation Gap Realities Workforce Technology: #TChat Preview

We’ve talked before about how hot the theme of ‘innovation’ is. In the technology world, much of what’s filed under ‘innovation’ is related to cloud technology, or mobile, or ‘apps’. What isn’t so hot, in my observation, is technology that links innovations to people. And so it is here at the HRToday conference in shiny Las Vegas, where technology is everywhere, but the links to employees and workforces are not so clear.

I’m looking forward to visiting the technology demos, and especially speaking with today’s analyst panel, which is bringing a group together to discuss the ‘innovation gap’ in HR technology. As I wear my “everyday practitioner” hat it is apparent to me that we still have some major holes to contend with. Reality Check!

At today’s panel, our hosts for this event, HRO Today, have brought together a great group including Kevin W. Grossman of Ventana Research; Madeline Laurano, Talent Systems Analyst of The Newman Group; Mark McMillan, co-founder of Talent Function Group; Katherine Jones, Principal Analyst of Bersin & Associates, and Jayson Saba, Senior Research Associate of Aberdeen Group. This group of analysts – many with a focus on talent management – are discussing a survey HRO Today ran earlier this year of over 100 buyers and providers of HR technology. The survey’s goal was to get a better pulse on the pace of technology innovation.

So while there’s plenty of HR technology out there, much of it is focused on talent management and recruitment. HR just isn’t perceiving what’s out there as innovative, perhaps because most of what we’re seeing isn’t screaming cloud, mobile or app. Very interesting.

So, what should the role of the buyer and the technology provider be in pushing innovation? My take:

Collaborate to innovate, but do it differently, depending on which side of the table you sit on. If you’re an HR tech buyer, make your technology recommendations based on how, say, innovative recruiting technology can help you build an innovative company. Don’t worry about the technology being innovative per se; that’s the role of the provider.

Providers of technology, listen to your customers. Ask about their recruiting and retention challenges, and think about how to use social media technologies to enhance the technology suites you’ve already built.

With smart solutions like these available, could there be a disconnect between technology innovation and HR?  I say a big yes, and the survey seems to have found the same scenarios unfolding with their samples.

I base my observation both on what I see here in Vegas, and more on what I’ve been experiencing in the market for the past three years. Sure, there’s lots of HR technology. Solutions that target enterprises are probably doing fairly well. But the real struggle is in the SMB, where most people look for and find work.

Workforce technology, perhaps more than other technology solutions, needs to scale. It needs to be useful for the 10 person company and the 10,000 person company. And when we talk about tech innovation in HR and recruiting, please hold the spreadsheets and go long on social media. That’s the edge case.

SharedXpertise and the HR Demo Show just completed a survey on what industry stakeholders, both practitioners and providers, think about innovation in HR technology.

Based on that premise, we want our #TChat community to chime in on the subject later today. Tonight’s #TChat questions are:

Q1: How important is technology innovation in acquiring, empowering and retaining a workforce today?

Q2: Are HR and recruitment practitioners truly “innovative” today? Why or why not?

Q3: How have technology innovations impacted end users’ experiences? Using it or not?

Q4:How do you use technology to support business strategies and objectives?

Q5: Do HR and recruitment technology innovations support the work, or are they just gadgets? Why?

Q6: What can practitioners and providers do to facilitate and improve technology innovation?

Q7: In summary, what do you think it means to be innovative in the HR and recruiting business today?

Back to the conference floor. More thoughts from me soon. Cheers to Vegas!
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