The Big Debate: What’s your pick: Customer or the Consumer?
The much awaited Big Debate on Day 1 of the People Matters TechHR 2017 Conference was graced by multi-industry experts and anchored by none other than Pankaj Bansal of People Strong. We had two representatives from the HR fraternity, Babu Vittal of Shopeclues and Rajesh Padmanabhan from Welspun India. The CEO’s segment was represented by Premlesh Machama from Career Builder and the product angle was embraced by Varun Narang from Hotstar. To balance the gender diversity, we had Harmeen Mehta representing the technology world of Bharti Airtel.
This interesting, well articulated and insightful debate maintained the adrenalin rush of the audience from the beginning till the closure of the discussion. The discussion took off with what the future of work may look like.
The world of data, technology with over amplified individualism and unification of diversity is driving us to a new world of work. The debate of HR Tech Buyer i.e. the HR folks versus the Consumer - our employees opened up a Pandora's Box of various challenges and new age issues that have a huge impact on reshaping the future of work.
Let us look at them in detail:
“Give me an experience. Show me the purpose!” is what today’s and future consumers will want from us. And by ‘consumers’ we mean employees here.
The shift in psyche from ‘Hire to retire’ to ‘Recruit to retain’ is predominantly evident to all. The future of work will be more consumer driven. Rajesh simply puts it as “today’s employees don’t think of spending next 10-20 years, they just care about what experience you give them at the workplace. Give me work at life, not life at work.” Babu puts this rightly across as “there should not be restrictions when it comes to giving freedom and empowerment to consumers on using new age technology solutions.”
Articulating business case effectively
It was quite evident from the discussion that HR needs to equip themselves with more facts and figures while seeking a buy in from top bosses and peers. Premlesh uses a sales terminology - “BANT” where B stands for Budget, A for Authority, N for Need and T for Timing.
As per him, the perspective of CIOs and CFOs may differ with CHRO or CTO. The knack of articulating a strong business case is a must to drive the decision. In fact, every language needs to be different. The technology chief needs to be explained in his/her parlance. The finance, product, sales and other stakeholders need to be explained with credible information in related language easily comprehended by them. This indeed has an effect on the acceptance ratio of the new tech initiatives being planned by the HR leaders to a greater extent.
Don’t set boundaries
In the future of work, the role of HR will shift from managing employees to only influencing them to be self-driven. “People should know their boundaries themselves; if you tell them their boundaries they would try to jump and see what’s on the other side of the fence”, said Harmeen. It is high time to give our workforce the space to breathe and room to grow.
Consulting consumers while taking tech decisions
Pankaj points out that the employees are not taken into consideration for expressing their opinions in decisions before taking a plunge on getting new tech solutions for their use. The need of the hour is to create a consultative and participative approach with a full focus on the consumer. Identify those HR tech solutions which will be adopted and used rather than ticking check boxes which are hardly used by the consumers. In fact, one of the solutions given by Rajesh Padmanabhan is 'Bottom up Listening to a Top down telling' which can help solve some existing challenges. Varun emphasizes on building a product and user experience that is consistent. He states, "Every pixel needs to earn its placements."
Though “HR Tech has a long way to go vis-à-vis what consumer tech has achieved” as quoted by Pankaj. However, in the debate of the mind and heart, it clearly comes out that the world of HR tech belongs to the consumers. There’s an apparent paradigm shift in how we need to bring in changes within us to work coherently with the current workforce. Keeping the human touch and connect alive, use technology as an enabler to bring out the best of both the sides. Embrace for a future where you may need to manage humans as well as bots together.