Stop the presses! The HR industry is undergoing radical change because of the advent of technology. Oh, wait… that’s not news, is it?
No, the impact of modern, digital-everywhere technology on the human resources industry is not new. In fact, the industry as a whole – like many others – has long wrestled with the challenge of adopting new technological tools and processes.
Although not yet on the ‘bleeding edge’ of technology adoption, the HR and talent recruitment industry is increasingly showing a willingness to at least discuss the strategic viability of adopting innovative new technology applications.
Here are some examples:
1. Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation:
While the term artificial intelligence often conjures dystopian science fiction-based images of robots replacing humans in all manner of work and life, the truth is AI can provide – and in many cases, is providing – tremendously practical time- and effort-saving advantages to people working in the field of human resources and recruiting.
AI, or more broadly cognitive computing, can leverage various mixes of machine learning, reasoning, natural language processing and other elements of contextual ‘learning’ to help automate a wide range of HR functions including candidate profiling, reference checking, review scheduling, online training delivery, etc.
There is also a much broader range of instinctual and intuitive processes that HR professionals deal with every day that are, in fact, being supplemented and supported through AI- enabled computing systems. At the end of the day, AI is proving itself as a viable means to help HR professionals do their jobs better, not replace them.
2. Big Data:
What is Big Data? Basically, it comes down to gathering, slicing, dicing, chopping and mixing together vast amounts of seemingly unrelated data bits to conjure valuable strategic enterprise-level insights in remarkably quick fashion. So, who better than HR and recruitment professionals to benefit from the advent of Big Data, which is touted for its ability to reveal patterns, trends, and associations relating to human behavior and interactions?
While there are some notable cautionary notes that go along with the use of Big Data, particularly with regard to maintaining privacy protection and data integrity, the best part of using data-driven applications for most HR people is that it empowers them to make better informed decisions in all areas of their responsibility. Whether it’s for the purposes of recruiting, hiring, training, managing, promoting or dismissing employees, Big Data can give HR professional better, more reliable insights than they ever could have had by relying exclusively on their own experience and knowledge.
3. Demand-driven technology:
Demand-driven technology generally refers to supply chain management solutions for the enterprise. However, there are some intriguing HR applications that fall under the banner of demand-driven technology, as they are designed to help organizations manage and scale their supply chain of people based on fluctuating market demand and/or resource availability. Basically, such technology allows organizations to dial up or dial down talent on demand, often in real time.
Although not an entirely new concept, when demand-driven technology is combined with today’s plethora of mobile digital communications tools and project management platforms, organizations can establish, maintain and build strategic momentum like never before by increasing organizational efficiency and productivity.
4. Virtual reality (VR):
For a profession that centres on the human touch, the notion of using technology that simulates physical environments and immerses users in 3D virtual worlds, may seem counterintuitive to many HR professionals. However virtual reality (VR) technology is, indeed, catching on as an effective and innovative tool to attract, interview and test desirable hiring candidates at a much lower cost than it would take to have them travel potentially long distances to and from an interview site.
Just imagine the efficiency and value that could come from an interview process that places an overseas applicant ‘in the room’ and allows them to engage with you. Or, picture having the opportunity to offer learning and skills development for technical roles that require more than an online learning course, or even the boost to your organizational brand that could come from enabling candidates to ‘visit’ and experience your office environment before even setting foot through the door.
5. Wearable technology:
Wearable technology – most often associated with fitness and activity trackers and smart watches, but which also includes tech togs and implanted devices – has many potential human resource applications. One of the most popular HR applications for wearable technology is for organizations to provide employees with digital fitness trackers to help motivate them to get and stay healthier and, presumably, more productive at work. Strategically integrated with a robust employee incentive program, such an effort can help HR professionals achieve several of their objectives, from boosting employee morale, to nurturing a positive and healthy work environment, to reducing productivity lags, absenteeism and health benefits costs.
Of course, you need employee buy-in to make this approach a success and a strategy to motivate and incent them to stick with it. But the opportunity in wearable technology is massive and we are only just seeing the tip of the iceberg of possible organizational applications at the moment.
by Derek Smith, GM at Xref