Spreadsheets? We don’t need no stinkin’ spreadsheets!

Human Resources ~ Technology

Twenty years ago, those two terms weren’t found in the same sentence, and while there are some companies today who still think “tech” is a spreadsheet with pivot tables, the majority of organizations have advanced a bit and are utilizing and desiring more HR tech.

When I was asked to write on behalf of HR Tech this year, I was flattered and yet a bit flabbergasted at the same time. I don’t consider myself a “techie” – Lord knows my eyes cross and my head hurts when people talk about algorithms and analytics. But then I spoke with a few friends who work for tech companies. They reminded me that as a long time HR leader and then as an HR consultant, I have not only witnessed the evolution of tech in my career but have a keen understanding of why it is needed and how it utilized. Notwithstanding the fact that all of them somewhat referenced my age in their encouragement, I nonetheless appreciate the message:

I don’t have to understand how the magic happens, I just have to understand why we need it to happen and the positive results when it shows up.

The evolution of workforce data management is quite interesting. We started with keeping basic records on employees for the simple objective of having a history of the relationship. Then emerged the the need to keep historical data on positions and processes such as classification, recruitment and selection data, organizational data affecting those positions, etc.

Right about the time computers entered the picture, legislation and compliance became key components of HR practices. Reports were needed!  Managing data became both automated and more complex around the same time, thus creating the need for a Human Resources Information System (HRIS).

From there, a multitude of changes started to take place in the typical HR program ranging from the emergence of diverse benefit programs to the idea that technology could help manage and/or automate workforce processes such as applicant tracking, performance management, timekeeping and pay. Efficiency was contagious and, therefore, technology became an addictive solution to managing all of that data.

Entering the market was a multitude of software applications to automate processes, manage the data within the processes, etc. It was not uncommon for a large organization to have a main HRIS system and many more “additional” programs that managed, tracked and reported on various processes. Complex integration became the new normal, and so evolved the Human Capital Management (HCM).

Technology is every-changing and the pace in which it does is mind-blowing. It is fitting that the conference showcasing the non-stop evolution of HR technology is held in Las Vegas!

HR Tech amplifies the learning and networking experience for forward thinking, strategic HR professionals. Numerous sessions focus on organizational improvement through the use of technology including sessions on Artificial Intelligence, Software as a Service, and The Cloud. In addition, there are sessions covering how social media, mobile applications, analytics, video, or gamification enable strong workforce engagement and quality performance. Attendees will benefit from learning how current technology can improve work and they will also be intrigued and inspired about what is right around the corner.

The sessions aren’t the only thing that make this learning experience worthwhile; there is the vendor hall! Both the long-time and emerging industry vendors are showcased at this event. As if everything in Vegas, this vendor list is big and bold! Attendees of this year’s HR Tech should plan to pace themselves. (May I recommend they have a strategy as it will quickly become overwhelming!)

Finally, HR Tech creates a backdrop of intelligence, foresight, generosity and energy. What better forum to meet, learn and be inspired by others? Attendees should come prepared to meet others, ask questions, share stories and otherwise commit to the networking experience.

Technology for HR has, indeed, evolved quite dramatically over the past decade or two. HR Tech has been there along the way, and I’m honored to have been invited to the ride. Look me up if you’re attending – perhaps we can talk about spreadsheets and pivot tables.