Josh Bersin is a world-known industry analyst and founder of Bersin by Deloitte, a leading provider of research-based membership programs in human resources, talent nd learning. Josh is a public speaker, and writer on the topics of corporate human resources, talent management, recruiting, leadership, technology, and the intersection between work and life.
In an interaction with People Matters, Josh shares insights on top tech trends in HR, adoption of next-gen technologies such as machine learning by businesses, and the way forward for HR.
You saw a massive shift from Automation to Productivity in 2018. How have things changed so far in 2019?
This trend is accelerating. Not only is productivity the theme, but simplicity. People are just too distracted and busy with their phones, emails, and messages – so we need HR tools that operate “in the flow of work.” Vendors have to rethink their solutions as “experiences” that integrate into Office 365, Teams, Slack and other tools – and operate flawlessly. We can’t send people to any more “destination apps” unless they are really fun, enjoyable, and valuable to use.
How do you see the current landscape of HR tech globally? And what lessons can CHRO and people manager learn from the current level of adoption of HR tech?
The HR Tech landscape is a little bit out of control. After 11 years of economic growth, VCs have funded many incredible startups causing a lot of “cognitive overload” among buyers. Even as an expert I have a hard time keeping up with all the tools. I’m not saying any of these systems aren’t great, but I know that CHROs are tired of getting emails and sales calls from vendors, and they want to buy tools that are proven and integrated into the ecosystem they already have. Companies that have digital teams can set up sandboxes and evaluation and architecture groups to help – but most companies don’t have time for this so I advise vendors to slow down and make sure you have sustainable solutions before you blast out all your sales and marketing and expect CHROs to listen.
Among the new-gen technologies (AI, ML, RPA, blockchain), which one are you most excited to use and why? Share examples of use cases.
Clearly ML and AI are way ahead of everything else because these technologies are now embedded into everything. We have AI-based assessment, selection, salary advice, learning, career management, and management. Leaders can now get AI-based tools to help them with coaching and it will go on and on. I expect us to come to work with “recommendations and nudges” every day, just like we get “recommended alerts” on news, stocks, and wellbeing tips.
Do you think HR will see a new level of data competency in 2019 with the rapid adoption of people analytics that help people managers make decisions about their workforce?
Yes. This has already happened. Our newest People Analytics Excellence course in the Josh Bersin Academy is under great demand (coming in Q4) and most HR leaders tell me they no longer want to hire HR people who don’t know some statistics and have data fluency. But not everyone is an analyst; people need to know how to interpret data, tell stories from data, and understand when the data is misleading. There is a lot to learn here – but as I wrote years ago –the “datafication” of HR has arrived.
What are exciting new innovations to look forward to in the context of HR and new-gen technologies?
I think chatbots, employee experience platforms, and integration with MS Teams are big. These are technologies that now exist and work today and they didn’t even exist two years ago. We all have to select the right tools in these areas. Employee self-service has become employee “listening and response” and platforms like employee engagement have become “action platforms” that deliver recommendations to managers. All these are new ideas going into production this year.
Employee experience seems to be one of the focus areas for HR today. How can HR leaders ensure a seamless employee experience and help them give their best in terms of productivity and efficiency?
This is the biggest topic in HR at the moment. I think it requires an employee experience leader and a cross-functional team that looks at the most unproductive problematic areas in your company. Right now it’s a consulting process but over time we’ll find better tools to instrument, design, and continuously improve employee experiences. Just as companies monitor customer experiences, we will do the same for employees.
Employee self-service has become employee “listening and response” and platforms like employee engagement have become “action platforms” that deliver recommendations to managers
How can technology help HR to understand the needs of employees in a gig economy?
This is a growing area with not enough tools. My latest research shows that only 12 percent of companies even know what gig workers they have and what they’re working on. Some of the core ERP vendors are building solutions here (many are building tools for internal marketplaces) but the vendor market is still lacking.
What are your top tips to HR leaders trying to build a business case for innovation and use of technology in the HR function?
I am very pragmatic here. I believe you have to build a solid system of record and then experiment and innovate in all these areas, with a plan to pilot different tools and throw some away if they don’t work. Just as marketeers have many tools to reach and communicate with consumers, we now need many tools to reach and communicate with employees. It’s not a time to sit back and wait – there are many ready solutions now. You just have to pilot and experiment to find the right ones for your particular company.