In today’s day and age it is technology that dictates whether you make it or not and how much of an edge you have over your competitor. But what kind of impact does technology have in terms of measurable business impact?
In an exciting FireSide chat on Day 2 on Asia’s largest work tech and HR conference TechHR, Sandeep Gautam, CHRO, National Engineering Industries Ltd; Sunit Sinha, Head of HR, KPMG, and Randeep Singh, HONO COO, talked about “Good isn’t good enough: Does your Technology drive measurable business impact?”.
The thought-provoking chat was chaired by Randeep Singh, the COO of HONO, a company that builds tech innovations backed by AI. The purpose of HONO’s innovations is to catalyze people’s ‘happiness’ and increase productivity within the organization.
To set the context for the chat, Singh, who has over two decades of experience in tech implementation, said “Until technology becomes a part of the value system of an organization, you can't drive any impact.”
Urging the audience to put their visualization skills to use, Singh asked everyone to envision a graph. “On the x-axis you have agility and on the y-axis you have the vision of the management as to what you are seeking from the technology. Map where you stand as an organization,” he said.
“A low-low on both the axis would just make technology a project. A medium-medium you reach somewhere with technology being your language in the organization. A high-high on both agility and vision takes you to technology or digital being your value system in the organization and that is where the real impact is.
Not all about the tech
“Here are my main thoughts. I think the first mistake we make is that we start thinking ‘It’s about the technology’. It’s not,” KPMG head of HR Sunit Sinha said.
“Then, when we look at the value we need to frame it is a business problem that we are trying to solve, not even a people problem. It may have a people dimension, but it is a business problem.”
“We as HR professionals need not ask how we can be a part of the business, we need to state boldly and upfront that we are the business – end of story,” the KPMG head of HR added.
Resolving absenteeism using tech
Sandeep Gautam then elaborated on the real, tangible impact created in National Engineering Industries.
“To me the people and tech go hand-in-hand. When we decided to go for HR technology, we had two questions: Can we streamline HR processes that can result in a better experience for our people? Then the bigger question: How can we help the business?” Gautam said.
“For example we realized that absenteeism was causing a big dent in our productivity, around 3-4%. So we came up with an “Early Information System”. So before a shift starts, it sends out a message asking shift workers if they would be coming in or not. The system then knows which lines would be affected and AI then throws suggestions to deploy the right kind of people with the required skill sets,” he explained.
“When National Engineering Industries was doing the skill mapping activity with HONO, there was a lot of thought that went into it. You are looking at skill mapping on a positional level and then looking at how could this be a primary/secondary skill and then looking at replacement logic,” Hono’s Randeep Singh added.
“Today you have the logic set for how skill-based replacements can be done for key, critical positions. That is where the tangible effect came!” Singh said, adding “I have the kind of information that if you are looking at a 2 or 3 percent productivity loss, we can look at ways to curb that loss.”
No perfect solution
“It is easy to say that you want to be bold, the challenge happens in the “how to”. When finding solutions to business problems remember, do not get stuck on finding the “perfect solution”. We will be frustrated,” KPMG’s Sunit Sinha said.
“Don’t wait for a perfect plan next week when you have a good one today. Today with cloud technology, with UX/UI, you need to make sure your stakeholders have a seamless, simplified experience,” Sinha added, cautioning everyone to stay away from “over-engineering” solutions.
“There are many solutions out there. In fact in HR Tech we now have the problem of plenty. Curate those solutions well!,” he added.
No need for the world’s approval
“I also feel it is time we broke the notion that we need the stamp of “global platform” to show that we are the best. I do believe in the SaaS space, we are seeing tremendous innovation in India,” Sinha said.
Singh added from his own experience that he had seen agendas get diluted seeking perfection or seeking that global stamp.
Moving on to the topic of Performance Management, Singh called it an “overtly convoluted topic” in the HR world that Gautam has been in the process of simplifying .
On this Gautam elaborated, “Last year we moved away from all those annual rituals of performance reviews and appraisals. We said we will move from evaluating performance to managing performance. We cannot allow anyone to underperform because that will affect the overall business objective.”
“So we simplified it - we adopted the balanced scorecard process and said that we will measure outcomes. We said that every quarter we will check. We went “Q1 - what did an employee achieve, what did they miss, what are plans for Q2 and what help do they need. I think this is also helping in changing the culture for our 76 year old company,” he said.
“Our PMS will also be linked with the LMS. So it will throw up what learning initiatives need to be planned for the people. This is how we are trying to transform,” Gautam said.
Making sense of data
Taking us to the next thought point the HONO COO commented on the large quantities of data getting churned. “I think there are solutions around picking up that data and making some sense around it. That also shows the kind of impact you are driving from a technology solution that you have implemented.”
“The data can actually show the linkage of how business is actually profiting from the transactions that are happening. It could be performance, or even the tracking of something like absenteeism,” Singh said.
“In the past the challenge was that we did not have enough data. Today, even a small packet of data can be finessed with algorithm and with machine learning it can result in a lot of insights,” Sinha said.
“Once you have the data, do something about it!” he said, adding that the “doing” part is tougher.
“Be human-centric and listen to what the data is telling you instead of dismissing it” We need to be ready to believe the data when we see in,” he said.
“We at HONO are also working to come up with actionable insights that could really be with the key-deicison makers,” Singh said.