HR Technology Q & A with Karen Minicozzi

Sep 28, 2016 4:46:25 PM / by Mary Kaylor

Karen Minicozzi, vice president, HCM product strategy, EMEA at Workday shares her thoughts on HR Tech selection and adoption, the employee experience and what's next for HR Tech.  

Karen will be a participant in the HR Tech session “The Evolution and Future of HR Analytics Technology,” taking place 11a.m. – 12p.m. on Thursday, October 6.


Q. What key questions should HR professionals ask HR technology vendors when in the selection process?

HR professionals should seek out a vendor that acts more like a partner to ensure their specific needs are fully met. They should ask:

  • How does the vendor (the software vendor, not the services or implementation partner) provide on-going support and guidance to customers to help manage the pace of innovation?
  • What is the overall satisfaction of that vendor’s customers, how is that measured and how frequently?
  • How do customers provide input into new features or enhancements they would like to see in the software.

They should also examine how complex or disjointed the technology itself is, as it may impact their overall operations and reporting. Things to consider include:

  • How many different applications drive employee processes from recruiting to onboarding to lifecycle changes to talent to learning?
  • How many integrations (even if delivered by the vendor) are there and how many mobile apps are needed for the employee experience across those areas?


Q. What are the biggest challenges to employee adoption of new HR technology and what advice would you give to HR professionals to ensure that employee adoption of new HR technology is successful? 

Think of the modern workforce, and the new needs of employees. If you truly want to ensure successful adoption of new HR technology, you should have solutions or applications that are easy to use and intuitive and, if possible, emulating the technology people use in their everyday lives. Think of the consumer apps we use all the time – Netflix, YouTube, etc. – and how we access them. Mobile is key – when employees can manage their work on a mobile device and have access to it anytime, anywhere, they are more engaged and productive.

HR systems also need to be personal; they need to “know” the employee, where they are in their career, what their goals and aspirations are, etc. This requires a system of engagement that is, at its core, a system of record as well. Niche applications that look cool may scratch an itch, but in the end, employees won’t use them if the information is out of date, out of sync, or non-existent. HR systems need to be doing more than capturing transactions, they need to be using that information and applying advanced analytics to engage and inform – recommending job options, for example.


Q. New HR technology no longer looks to automate, but to improve the “employee experience”.  How are you using HR tech at your organization to improve the employee experience?

Improving the employee experience is all about personalization. We use our own HR technology at Workday, and when I access it via my mobile app (which is ONE single mobile app for ALL HR functions) it isn’t just tasking me, it’s engaging me.  It engages me with fun and simple features that let me see where my peers have gone before me, lets me connect with them, and helps me understand what I need to learn to follow in their footsteps – or to forge my own career path. I’m excited to browse in the app because there are always new things - like on-demand courses in Workday Learning – that are being recommended specifically for me based on my role and preferences.


Q.  Technology is enabling HR to look at how their strategy affects organizational performance, in addition to HR-specific problems. To what extent are today’s HR professionals able to step outside the box that has traditionally defined their role?

Today’s HR professionals have so much data at their fingertips – data that, in the past, could only be accessed by a specific group like IT or would have taken weeks to gather (if it could be gathered at all).  Having one system that uses all of the transactional data to surface insight that can drive better, smarter people decisions is enabling HR professionals to come to the boardroom with real facts – not anecdotes, not stories, not gut-feel.  That data connects HR directly to the overall business in ways that were tremendously difficult or labor intensive in the past. But, data can also be scary because it enables transparency in areas that may have been shrouded in mystery, exposing the good and the bad equally.  Not all HR professionals are comfortable with that level of clarity, but as they are increasingly able to answer important questions about pay equity, gender equality, compensation parity and the like, they are becoming more comfortable applying their experience and informed judgment about the culture of their own organization to the data to drive better programs and better business outcomes.


Q. Many organizations are now using cloud-based technology for talent management, recruiting, performance management, workforce planning and analytics. Will there be significant advancements in the future? What’s coming next for HR technology?

There will always be innovation and advancements in technology – the challenge will be keeping up with it!  For organizations that have implemented different solutions across these functions, they will begin to realize that, to take advantage of innovations in machine learning and artificial intelligence, they need to invest in their HCM core application. The core is where all of the transactions that could inform machine learning and artificial intelligence happen. Edge applications are, by their very nature, siloed and can’t leverage that key data to drive better people decisions. The key will be to unify all of these areas with core HCM so that the HR system can make recommendations not only to HR professionals, business leaders and managers, but also to employees themselves.


Topics: technology, Employee Experience, employee engagement, HR, hr tech, HR Tech Conference

Mary Kaylor

Written by Mary Kaylor

Mary Kaylor is the Public Affairs Lead for the Society for Human Resource Management. She is the Managing Editor of the SHRM Blog and the creator and producer of #Nextchat, a leading global Twitter chat on the HR trends and all things work. Her career in communications spans from technology and workforce management in the telecommunications industry to external affairs and public relations. An HR Technology conference blogger since 2015, you can find her on Twitter at @SHRMKaylor.

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