The Balancing Act: Technology And The Human Element

TalentWise just wrapped up our best HR Tech conference yet. As I cruised the show floor, engaged with analysts and customers, and chatted with fellow HR tech executives, it struck me how lucky we are to be in this industry. The next 10 years will bring a wholesale change in the way companies recruit, hire, manage, and engage their workforces, not to mention a significant reshuffling of the deck chairs among the vendors supporting them. HR is approaching a critical juncture, and must decide whether to leap forward or risk being left behind.

The keynote speaker, Andrew McAfee, struck a chord with many in the audience. We’ve known that technology is transforming everything from our economy to the minutiae of everyday life, but McAfee focused on the implications of such rapid change. This “second machine age” is no less significant than the first — the Industrial Revolution — where technology replaced physical labor and changed the world.

The challenge is now upon us, as it is upon the rest of the world. We must continue to adapt, or risk becoming obsolete. There is a great deal of fear around this concept — the idea that technology will replace humans, just as the steam engine and tractor replaced the horse and ox. To the contrary, McAfee noted that through the proper marriage of people and technology, the sky is the limit. We must allow technology do what it does best, freeing up humans to do what they do best – human-to-human (now being coined “H2H”) interaction. Nowhere is this more applicable than in the world of HR, where there is little danger of “human resources” dropping the human element. To the contrary, digital technology can unleash the power of human ingenuity, empathy, and judgment. Case in point: by leveraging technology to automate routine compliance-centric administration, HR pros can shift focus to designing smarter processes, implementing best-in-class technologies, and keeping the company’s top talent engaged. This is a business imperative. As technology matures and becomes more broadly adopted, companies will increasingly differentiate on how well they leverage their people. HR managers are no exception. It’s up to them to embrace this technology revolution, and the limitless benefits that it will bring.

At TalentWise, we are proud to be a technology company that realizes the true synergy between technology and people. Is the highest and best use of your most talented HR pros to be mailing offer letters or chasing down a Form I-9? Is there any strategic value in managing vendors as they work independently to fulfill the disjointed process of screening and onboarding new employees? Do your new hires feel engaged on day one when greeted with a stack of paperwork and a ballpoint pen? Clearly the answer to all three is “no.” TalentWise believes that HR must be empowered to focus on the things that matter most — recruitment in an increasingly competitive environment, employee engagement amidst a technology and generational shift, data-driven decision making, etc.

We have developed a single technology solution with which HR can manage the entire hiring process, from offer letter to screening and onboarding. An entirely electronic system, TalentWise reduces time and cost to hire and ensures compliance in today’s tricky regulatory landscape, all while creating an efficient and engaging candidate experience. Like McAfee, we are fundamentally optimistic about the future of both people and technology. We feel uniquely positioned to ride the wave of change that digital technologies continue to bring. Not all businesses will adapt and survive, but the ones that do will thrive like never before.

HR must not miss this wave. IT spending dipped after the 2008 recession, but now it’s back. HR needs to move with conviction in upgrading their HR technology infrastructure. If we can combine the best people with the best technology, the sky is the limit. Change is happening astonishingly fast. Will technology leave you behind or lift you up?

About the Author: Todd Owens is CEO at TalentWise and has been with the company since 2006. Previously he held senior Product Management and Business Development roles at Wind River Systems and Siebel Systems. A former United States Navy submarine officer, Todd has twice been recognized as a “Superstar for outsourcing innovation in support of HR organizations” by HRO Today magazine. Todd holds a BS degree from the United States Naval Academy and an MBA from the Harvard Business School.

photo credit: quinn.anya via photopin cc