Technological advancements have always impacted the way businesses function. Right from the time of the steam engine, technological developments and applications have proliferated in business. From reducing costs to making processes more efficient and error free, technology has up till now been looked on as an enabler, finding useful application across various departments within organisations. Although business verticals like sales and marketing are being successful in technological adoption, HR today finds itself experimenting with the various tools available in the market today to strengthen their contribution to business. But looking ahead into the future application of new technological developments comes with its own set of limitation. For HR professionals, who are engaged in planning the future people management processes within their companies, it becomes important to design processes that create the right employee experience. To do this, HR professionals need to go back and quantify their final goal - the purpose and the collective outcome of its existence. The next step then becomes to reassess interventions in order to have a structured path toward fulfilment of the goal. Only once the understanding of the path is reasonably clear, can technology become an enabler of business growth. A lack of focus in executing technological adoption plan might end up bringing in unnecessary changes within the organisation. Building on this principle, the application of technology without the right planning becomes a double edged sword. A panel discussion chaired by Dr. N.S Rajan from Tata Sons with Gajendra Chandel from Tata Motors, China Gorman from Movatis Learning, Srikanth Balachandran from Airtel and Pratik Kumar from Wipro Infrastructures as the other panellists, discussed the possible future of technology within human management practices.
To put things into perspective, Dr NS Rajan mentioned the key challenges that HR professionals often face. The intangibility of the final results that HR professionals hope to obtain, often end up becoming an impediment as it makes assessing business impact more difficult. It therefore becomes critical for them to understand and identify the ways to measure the impact of their planned activities. Once this is understood, technology can play a key role in assisting HR professionals to increase the efficiency of such execution and management processes.
The other opportunity that technological advancements, especially in the space of mobile and social technology is to help HR create strong people connections. Well connected organisations in today’s dynamic business world have statistically performed better than there other counterparts. And this seeps into the larger vision of HR professionals to create a good employee experience. Using technology efficiently in the coming years would ensure that HR is able to create personalized experiences rather than creating a process which treats a 1000 plus employee workforce as a standardized cohort of people. Leveraging technology to create such employee experiences would ensure human management activities actively contribute to business growth.
The other side of the technology development story has been the narrative of how jobs get significantly affected with the introduction of newer and process efficient technologies. Gajendra Chandel from Tata Motors shared his anticipation of many manufacturing jobs getting replaced due to the rapid development of automation and machine learning programs that increase efficiency while reducing costs significantly. Here again, the panel stressed on the importance of pro-activeness on the part of HR professionals to anticipate the incoming changes to ensure relevant learning and skill development processes are executed. Technology can again be of help here as it customises learning courses to a significant extent.
The ability to leverage the opportunities that the application of technology across processes would largely depend on the scope defined by HR professionals. Although the impact of advancements in various fields would be distributed across the length and breadth of the market, HR professionals can only utilize the benefits if the scope to understand these changes and adapt accordingly is built within the organisation.
(This article is based on panel discussion on 'Gazin into the Future' at TechHR 2016)