Conflicting Messages at HR Tech?

Josh Bersin wrote a wonderful piece on disruptive technologies in HR.  “We have more disruption and change … than ever before,” Bersin said. But “despite the best efforts of our technology providers, technology is not making our lives better.” It highlights the great chasm between what many of us come here for: the most fantastic Expo hall in the HR industry (with software and service providers each trying to up their game year over year against their competitors) and the masses of attendees (who are all struggling to keep up with the perceived corporate Joneses and implement all the great new stuff).

Jason Averbook’s talk this morning about Building the HR Function of the Future (CHRO1) also encouraged our organizations to slow down the pace.  Citing that we have too much fragmentation in our HR technology ecosystems, we’ve bought too many vendors, and we have not implemented all of the functionality we have available, Jason encouraged us to be more thoughtful about how we acquire and deploy our enabling tools.

At the end of the day, vendors and service providers have to continue to improve or get left out of the market in just a few short years, but the degree of techno-stress HR practitioners are feeling in order to keep up is immense.  Often, HR organizations are buying technologies without great roadmaps.  Leaders envision a new HCM tool that will transform their HR functions, but forget that broader HR transformation initiatives are critical to success.  We buy great new analytical tools but don’t transform a user’s ability to consume new data.  All in all, HR is often tired, but the vendor space keeps on moving.

What are the things that HR should do?

  • Ensure you have a documented and measurable vision for the outcome
  • Create a detailed plan that includes not only how you will deploy a technology, but what processes and programs need to be transformed and how you will change your organization’s behaviors
  • Know if your outcome is part of a broader program, and roadmap where your outcome fits – often you should actually wait for certain deployments because sequencing of activities will make better sense
  • Create a realistic business case that is measurable – that means you have to be able to measure the current state as well as the future outcome

We come to this conference sometimes to buy, other times just to check out what’s new.  We often make the mistake of assuming that the cool new stuff is being bought by our competitors.  The reality might be slightly different, and understanding that constant buying may not be synonymous with program successes is critical.

My message is the same as Josh and Jason’s – it’s ok to slow down, take stock and make a plan.

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