Where is HR in the technology innovation curve?
There are three stages of HR technology evolution― personnel management, HR management, and finally talent management
Abolish the myths surrounding HR technology
While most believe that India is among the most progressive geographies for innovative practices, HR is far behind the curve in technology innovation.
A peep into the history of HR in India suggests that the country has pioneered many progressive and alternative practices. HR professionals in India believe that the post-liberalization era introduced many radical changes to organizational HR management mechanisms. Changes in the demographic composition and scale, new working hours, and talent competition propelled innovations in talent management practices and strategies. While HR has lived up to the test of innovating practices to manage these new challenges, HR technology in India still continues to be in early days.
China Gorman, CEO of the consulting firm CMG Group, says that “HR is so far behind in the adoption curve compared to other functions that HR and early-adoption sounds like an oxymoron.” The technology of HR evolved from rudimentary personnel management automation platforms to highly sophisticated enterprise talent management platforms.
There are three stages of HR technology evolution― personnel management, HR management, and finally talent management. Personnel management is a command and control function and focused on regulatory control. HR management is about leveraging behavioral dynamics, technology, and outsourcing. Talent management is the highest level of evolution focused on strategy, data, and predictive analytics. Most of the common HR technologies prevalent among Indian organizations are personnel and HR management platforms. In order to drive innovation in technology, an organization needs to abolish the following four myths:
Myth #1― Technology is merely task automation
Common approach to technology conversations still revolve around task efficiency. While task efficiency is important, for HR technology to take on a more value-added role for the organization it is important to view technology through the lens of an enterprise function. In the present scenario, data and predictive analysis technology will be the key differentiator between a progressive and a non-progressive HR enterprise.
Myth #2― Innovation comes only from industry-standard best practices
Most companies are caught up in looking inward for industry best practices. As Gorman reveals, “Most of the progressive HR technology innovations come from companies that have imported best practices from other industries.”
Myth #3― HR technology is built by technologists
According to Gorman, “The most common problem hindering adoption of HR technologies in most geographies is the lack of HR knowledge of a technologist.” A technology to manage an HR challenge needs deep understanding of HR issues. Mature markets such as the US have seen a number of HR professionals starting up technology firms to build higher value-adding HR technologies. This trend is yet to pick up on a big scale in India.
Myth #4―Technology assessment is an in-house exercise
The technology assessment and deployment process is still and in-house exercise for most organizations.Gorman says that “Innovative organizations employ a strategic technology partner to assess and evaluate the long-term technology opportunity of the organization across the entire human capital management lifecycle.” Unilever, a global FMCG company, employed the consulting firm, Capgemini, for a strategic initiative to implement technology for business efficiency in 2011. Within 12 months, the company released a study highlighting how the business platform improved not just the company’s customer brand loyalty, it significantly improved its employee engagement score compared to previous years.
Technology has immense potential to propel the HR function in India to maturity. The talent management landscape is seeing a lot of activity in the social media space. HCM technology service companies are also witnessing an increased number of queries in recent months from both large companies as well as the SME sector. While these are positive signs, it is important for an organization to abolish the myths surrounding HR technology to move ahead of the curve.