Article: HR-The SMAC-KING driver of change

Strategic HR

HR-The SMAC-KING driver of change

The Third Platform is on its way to transforming the way organizations are run and HR could very well be riding the first wave as we move into the next era of technologies
HR-The SMAC-KING driver of change

The new age HR looks at leveraging SMAC for social interactions, understanding talent trends and helping organizations take talent decisions through predictive analysis


HR analytics can help organizations take the guesswork out of making key talent decisions as one wades through this data


We are living in a shrinking globe where technology is reinventing our lives in multiple ways. Pervasiveness of technology has blurred the boundaries between work and home. The impact thereof opens up a wide gamut of questions that present an opportunity for interesting conversations. Leaders in industry and academia seek to address these questions in ways that suit their interests. The industry has witnessed combination of technologies coming together to present new business models. The world of HR has had to keep pace with not just the changing business models but also the changing preferences of a growing and increasingly younger workforce. The buzzwords—Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud (SMAC)—over the last decade seem to have become more significant to HR.

The use of technology in the Human Resource Management space is going through an exciting phase. Options, which were once seen as niche or futuristic, are now becoming more mainstream and conventional things to have. Nearly all the credit to this has to be given to the technology stack, which constitutes SMAC. In fact, recent surveys have put it among the top three things on the list of CIOs and a large driver of these internally is HR. Acceptance of “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) at work places has propelled the proliferation of SMAC in more than one way. An employee can be more mobile between work and home and have less hassles of having to switch between devices. Next, social segmentation between work and home is reduced as the employee tends to use same devices at both places; and in the employees’ quest for storage space to save his ever increasing data - Cloud is slowly becoming the preferred choice for storage.

HR plays a pivotal role in these times of change. First, HR plays the role of a conscience keeper. HR helps formulate policies in partnership with IT which draws the thin line between employee privacy and organization’s data security. HR plays the role of a promoter of these technologies. It also determines the level of support an employee needs for seamless integration into day-to-day work.

Second, HR is among the most strategic consumers of the output from these technologies at the workplace. HR uses SMAC to promote the interest of the organization. It accesses analytics for a deeper understanding of people. Transitioning from usage of technology as ‘Virtual HR’, the new age HR looks at leveraging SMAC for social interactions, understanding talent trends and helping organizations take talent decisions through predictive analysis.

Third, SMAC now provides HR the opportunity to play the role of a strategic business partner in the true sense. Staffing decisions in resource intensive industries, cost savings due to usage of technology, higher engagement levels leading to superior productivity, real time decision saving precious time of senior resources on multiple people processes are all examples of HR leveraging technology to enable key business decisions.

The Social Network!

With Facebook crossing the 100 million active users mark in India, one can safely assume the high acceptance levels of social media in India today. A recent NASSCOM study had stated over 90 per cent of the larger organizations use social media for employee connect. Sites like LinkedIn have changed the way recruiters interact with the job market. Although more of a trend in the West, social sites like Facebook or Twitter are being used to reach out to the talent market and this trend is slowly gaining ground in India as well.

Organizations are increasingly using social networks to increase interactions among employees. What started off as bulletin boards on the intranet to post listings or to sell things has now graduated to social network hubs to share ideas, hold discussions and even source internal talent. With this element of gamification, HR is pushing to achieve a more collaborative and engaging culture within the organization. HR is slowly realizing that consumer experience has started to guide enterprise user experience.

Other avenues of interfacing with the larger talent market are through focused solutions that manage the entire candidate life cycle. This could mean integrating the video conferencing ability with the recruitment system or a virtual on-boarding module once the candidate has joined the organization. These solutions are currently being used to complement the existing HR machinery, which is also making organizations rethink the skills and competencies of the HR team, not to mention the numbers.

HR on the move!

With the proliferation of mobile devices and its increased usage amongst employees, it is no surprise that mobile is increasingly becoming the emerging delivery platform for HR. The challenge is for enterprise applications to firstly move to a mobile platform and having done that offer the same level of comfort, user experience and engagement. For the manager, it means having the freedom to leverage HR processes beyond desktops in a secure manner. This directly leads to increased productivity and also the option of an always mobile workforce. HR can now make sure that all that investment gone into the backend HR systems is properly being utilized. HR can also look to explore innovative areas such as use of native device capabilities like camera, location awareness, and voice notes to enhance team connect. The benefits are beyond just increased workflow response or faster alerts.

In God we trust, all others please bring data!

One of the emerging areas in HR is Analytics. Although organizations have been historically using analytics for business decision like customer demand trends, financial analysis, sales optimization etc, increasingly they are also looking at human capital analytics to predict skills, performance, training, collaboration, risk/reward, compensation, success and even morale.

Voluminous “digital trails” of data from HR systems and social networks is now available for analysis. At KPMG, we believe our youngest but perhaps most exciting solution – HR analytics can help organizations take the guesswork out of making key talent decisions as one wades through this data. HR analytics can provide clear linkages, correlations and causality between HR metrics and other business measures. By providing powerful metrics, alerts, and reports to managers, organizations can enable them to understand how workforce factors are affecting individual departments and take appropriate actions such as critical information on staffing, recruitment, workforce development, workforce cost, and diversity at levels of detail such as by geography, job category, division, and pay grade, etc.

On Cloud 9!

With option of cloud, all of these novel ideas can be made a reality at a fraction of cost and also enables economies of scale. By using a cloud-based approach, organizations can deploy software, install hardware, network and infrastructure and start using the software without incurring substantial capital expenditure. There are also flexible options such as pay as per usage, which make these new options extremely practical for small- and mid-sized companies as well.

The Third Platform and beyond!

In leading organizations, SMAC technologies are being used by the HR Delivery system to engage more closely with employees and also to make it convenient for them to access organizational platforms. Alerts, approvals, filling timesheets on the go – a lot of self-service options are now available on mobile devices. In-house social platforms, which are used to connect colleagues around the world, share knowledge, learn from one another, collaborate on ideas and develop innovative solutions, also exist.

Another emerging concept is the Internet of Things (IoT), which talks about the linkages between multiple devices that we use on a daily basis and the collective intelligence that it garners. Although, in its nascent stages of conceptualization, HR will have a lot to benefit from when the concept catches up with enterprises.

SMAC or ‘The Third Platform’ as International Data Corporation (IDC) calls it is being cleverly utilized by HR to change the way process like talent management, workforce planning and analytics or even some of the core HR areas like payroll or attendance management. Intelligent talent decisions can be made available to managers, anywhere and not at a low cost. This is not a journey of technology platforms replacing HR, but HR having an opportunity to reinvent itself and make it more relevant. The Third Platform is on its way to transforming the way organizations are run and HR could very well be riding the first wave as we move into the next era of technologies.

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Topics: Strategic HR, Talent Acquisition, #HRInsights

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