HR in 2014: It’s all about the technology

One of the things I enjoy about the end of the year are predictions posts. I think it’s fun to read other people’s take on upcoming trends and the future of the profession. As a business professional, trend watching confirms my thoughts about what’s happening in the workplace. And when I see predictions about something new, it challenges me to learn about those topics.

I believe 2014 will be a very exciting time for human resources and the world of work. We’re on the edge of so many cutting-edge technology advancements. Here’s my list of what to watch next year:

1.       Companies toy with gamification tools. Ha! I couldn’t resist the play on words. Seriously, marketing departments have embraced gamification strategies for the consumer side of the business and, as a result, so will the rest of the company. Human resources departments will bring gamification not only into training activities but to the recruiting process as well.

2.       Go mobile or go home. This is a no-brainer. Forbes cited earlier this year two surveys that confirmed over half of adult Americans have a smartphone. There are just too many smartphones to ignore mobile. eCommerce is big business. Using mobile technology for human resources related activities such as recruiting, training, and workforce scheduling only makes sense. Businesses will use mobile to keep employees selling and making customers happy versus filling out forms and filing reports.

3.       Companies will start adopting enterprise social collaboration solutions. Businesses have come to recognize the value of informal and social learning. Couple this with the opportunities to engage with employees using internal networks. Social collaboration tools are the logical next step in organizational communication.

4.       Organizations experiment with wearable tech. Fitness bands are helping people with their wellness goals. The introduction of devices like smart watches and Google Glass are changing the game. It’s only a matter of time before companies figure out how to use these devices to enhance the workplace.

The Buzzword for 2014: Analytics. Even though it shouldn’t be a buzzword; it’s a business imperative. Some words get the buzzword moniker because they’re different (aka “selfie”), others become buzzwords because they are used frequently. We’re talking about the latter. During a recent conference, I heard business pros consistently, without hesitation, say the number one goal is data and analytics. Companies realize data equals profits and no one can afford to leave money on the table.

The Top Compliance Issue for 2014: Yes, you guessed it – the Affordable Care Act. This is a very complicated piece of legislation. There have been some implementation set-backs. I suspect we will spend much of 2014 trying to figure this new law out together.

You probably noticed this year’s predictions have a lot of technology in them. More and more human resources functions and solutions have a technology component to them. Human resources technology is part of our jobs. Frankly, technology is part of our jobs – no matter what position or level in the organization. Period.

Employers once expected human resources to just know word processing, spreadsheets and presentation software. Today, those same employers expect their people to know about smartphones, tablets, apps, and social media.

You don’t need to be an expert or own every device. You do need to understand the fundamentals. And recognize that the fundamentals change all the time. Because technology is changing quickly. If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to build technology into your professional life. You can learn more by doing small things like test driving the latest devices next time you’re in a shopping mall or stepping up your social media participation.

Companies and individuals that embrace technology will have a definite advantage in 2014 (and the years to come). For HR pros, technology can bring advantages that allow us to focus on the operation. What do you think? Share your predictions in the comments.

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