HR Technology Q&A with Steve Boese

Sep 13, 2016 12:51:02 PM / by Mary Kaylor

Steve Boese, co-chairman of the 2016 HR Technology Conference & Exposition explains the "HR Tech Hierarchy of Needs"...



Q.  What is the single most important piece of technology an HR pro can have in 2016?

Great question. I am going to cop out a little bit and rather than identify a single most important tool, lay out a kind of ‘HR Tech Hierarchy of Needs’ (with all due apologies to Maslow). But like Maslow’s more famous hierarchy, organizations need certain foundational and fundamental technologies in place, (and working effectively), in order to be able to ascend to more transformational and disruptive kinds of HR technologies.

Tier 1 - Foundational – “Core” HRIS for tracking your workforce, payroll, (often outsourced for small to mid-size organizations), benefits enrollment and administration, basic compensation management, and finally time and attendance tracking. And likely add to this list and Applicant Tracking System (ATS), if the organization is growing and/or doing significant hiring. These make up most of the foundation of an organization’s HR technology platform.

Tier 2 -  Talent Management – After the foundational HR technologies are in place, organizations typically look to leverage modern HR technology applications for managing talent. Examples include performance and goal management, talent assessment and review, succession planning, career planning, and advanced compensation management. Sometimes these talent management applications are delivered as part of a larger software suite that also encompasses “Core”HR and payroll and other organizations select so-called “best-of-breed” talent management applications or suites that provide support for these processes.  Most organizations take a targeted approach to implementing talent management applications, often focusing first on primary areas of need before expanding into additional functional areas.

Tier 3 - Learning and Collaboration – Sometimes learning technology is grouped with Talent Management, but it is so often implemented as a stand-along application I think it makes sense to list it separately. As organizations grow, and potentially expand into new and different domains, the need to ensure employees are properly equipped in terms of skills, knowledge, and capabilities in order to successfully perform in their roles, and support the organization’s mission.

Although not always considered “HR” technology, increasingly organizations are turning to technology solutions for information sharing, group and organizational communication, and more effective collaboration. There are a wide range of technologies that fall into this classification – from project and task management, to advanced document creation and collaboration, to chat and forum-based tools for fast, effective collaboration among groups. These technology solutions often have similarities in function and capability to learning solution, and they often overlap in utilization inside organizations.

Tier 4 - Engagement and Analytics – These are the wide variety of tools that aim to assist organizations in the large task of assessing and improving employee engagement, and the set of analytical technologies to help HR and business leaders better understand their people data and make people decisions based on that data. There are almost too many different types of applications to mention here, but some that have enjoyed more widespread adoption are rewards and recognition tools, wellness and activity-tracking applications, and lightweight or “pulse” employee surveying tools. On the Analytics front, several HR-centric analytics technology solutions have emerged in the last several years, as have HR-focused applications developed by more generalized business analysis and reporting. And in the near future, more HR technology solutions will offer both predictive analytics, (some are doing this today), and make proactive recommendations for what actions managers and HR leaders should consider taking based on those predictions.

This was just a quick (and kind of incomplete and rough), breakdown of the major Tiers of HR Technology. In many ways they ALL are important, the trick is finding which set of applications, implemented in what order, that will produce the optimal outcome for your organization. You can learn more and see solutions at every level of the hierarchy at the upcoming HR Technology Conference, October 4 – 7, in Chicago –



Topics: technology, analytics;, analytics technology, core HR, HR, hr tech, Talent Management, HR Tech Conference, technologies

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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