Article: HR Technology: The competitive differentiator


HR Technology: The competitive differentiator

Anmol Nautiyal, Director, IBM Smarter Workforce for India & South Asia on how HR Technology can be a great competitive differentiator
HR Technology: The competitive differentiator

Think of the huge benefit to enterprises of having an integrated end-to-end talent management capability that brings precision and science into decision making around the entire employee life cycle, from predicting the best hire for every job to providing an environment that drives engagement and high productivity. Now compare this ideal scenario with the current state in most companies globally: a silo-ed adoption of HR technology that focuses on solving specific business challenges, mostly focused around talent acquisition and learning & development. Where do Indian companies feature in this picture? How can early adoption of technology benefit them?

The Indian market has been steadily gaining momentum and we are seeing technology adoption with varying degrees of maturity across industries. However, the approach is still fairly predictable and there is a huge opportunity available to transform their talent cycle. Typically, companies start with a Human Resource Information System as a system of record, then build specialized capabilities to create systems of engagements to address specific business challenges that arise while attracting, retaining and managing talent.

However, as the needs and the scale of the company evolve, companies need an integrated talent management capability that can scale as a platform and has a holistic view of talent, thereby driving more accurate decision making across the enterprise. Today most of the people-related decisions within organizations are based on gut feeling and guesswork and companies are looking for more precision in this area. There are also two overarching aspects that need to be considered here: the need for enterprises to be profitable and the knowledge that their people are their top source of economic differentiator today. Their approach to adoption of technology needs to reflect this. Integrated talent suites that have social and mobile technologies integrated within them provide a more engaging employee experience in every way, including learning opportunities, better communication and the ability to tap the collective knowledge of the enterprise. A better employee experience leads to greater productivity and better customer experience, leading to more profitability.

This brings us to an important aspect: Talent Analytics. Organizations that are running at a very high speed of change are early adopters of new technology and that can be a great competitive differentiator. Traditionally people-related technology interventions have taken a back seat over revenue generation and cost cutting technology investments, but this is changing rapidly. Today’s enterprises understand the wisdom of investing wisely on people-related interventions and there is a good degree of technology, behavioral science and human insights applied to solving talent management challenges.

You may wonder, if this was that easy, why companies have not moved in the direction of analytics much earlier. The biggest challenge in this area has been availability of employee data. We can broadly classify employee data into four areas: Demographic, Learning & Skills, Behavioral and Social. The first two exist in most Indian companies that have a reasonable HR process and technology to automate it. Behavioral data consists of records such as cultural fit assessments, engagement surveys, collaboration indicators and expert analysis. Social interaction data covers aspects like scope of influence, influencer/follower, tagged skills and social network patterns. Some of the above data lie within the four walls of enterprises and some lie outside. It is imperative to have a comprehensive view of employees so that analytics can be applied to drive precise decision making. We do have technology today that can handle the volume, variety and veracity in the data.

Talent Analytics capabilities applied on the right data to suit various decision points in organizations can be a huge differentiator. These capabilities can be classified into Descriptive, Prescriptive and Predictive analytics:

  • Descriptive Analytics: “How many people have we hired this year and from which source?”
  • Prescriptive Analytics: “How many people should we hire next year, in which roles and at what cost to produce maximum benefit for the organization?”
  • Predictive Analytics: “Which candidate is most likely to succeed in this job for which I am hiring and will they likely stay on?”

How will cognitive technology be disruptive?

The next wave and game changer is cognitive technology. Imagine the ability to ingest huge volumes of data into a powerful computer which can read and comprehend the data like the human brain and also has the ability to understand the human voice and provide answers. A great example for this is “What are the best interview questions I can ask to hire the best quality person for this role?” This will have the ability to instill a level of precision into hiring decisions that can transform the enterprise. Thus, cognitive computing has the potential to be the real disruptor in the HR technology space and can be hugely beneficial for enterprises.

As told to People Matters

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Topics: Technology, Strategic HR, #BestPractices, #HRInsights

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