HR Technology Q & A with Heather Bussing


The 2016 HR Technology Conference is October 4-7. Over the next week, The SHRM Blog will feature a Q & A series with several HR technology experts who will offer their perspective on how technology is impacting the HR profession today -- and their predictions for the future.

The following is a Q & A with Heather Bussing, a California employment lawyer and 2016 HR Tech Conference Insiders Blogger.    


Q. Which new type of HR technology is most revolutionizing the HR profession?

The ones you don’t see. The collection and analysis of data everywhere an employee goes with their badge, facial recognition on the security cameras, every key stroke on their computer, every login to the system, what they do there, how long they stay, when they are away, what they write in email, what they say in chat. All that information is being gathered and analyzed to understand what is going on within the company. Sometimes it is anonymized; sometimes it’s not. People need to understand that nothing they do is private or difficult to find anymore.

Q.  What do you want HR professionals to understand about the process of selecting HR software?  What are the key considerations?

Too much, too many times, too soon. People do not change at the same rate new software is added and updated. Does it significantly change the way people do their jobs? Does it change the way they have customized or set up the program already? Does it make things easier or is it just another thing that people have to learn that adds 50 emails to their inbox every day. Who does it really benefit, if anyone?

Q. Employees are increasingly using mobile to access their employers’ HR services.  How will employees’ evolving expectations affect an organization’s HR technology regarding access and security?

Employees are companies’ biggest security risk. It is not hackers from outside. It’s the people who have access and ignore the rules. Mobile is just one piece of it as company data gets cached and downloaded onto personal devices. When you have a workforce that travels, they are logging in to outside networks which are not particularly secure, especially airports and hotels. It is very easy to see what they are doing and get access to that along with whatever else is available.

Companies need to understand what information matters – trade secrets, strategy, confidential communications, and any inside information that is subject to SEC regulation if it is a public company or regulated financial company.

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?

We are in the data gathering stage which is being used to train machine learning and artificial intelligence systems.  Once these programs start working and analyzing vast amounts of data that is beyond human ability to check or even understand how it works, there will be the temptation to rely on “objective” data-driven decisions that have bias baked in or are based on incomplete or incorrect data. Human common sense and understanding of context will be the most important part of this new technical wave and we are all so excited about the capabilities, I worry that misuse and bad machine decisions will create the capacity for tremendous damage to individuals and groups of employees.

Q.  As technology evolves, what do you think the future of HR will look like?  

A lot of the headache work of compliance will be automated and HR will be free to focus on people, if organizations let it. New tech will create new issues, problems, and work that we can’t even see yet. I believe we will learn that a lot of the cool new tech we are starting to use is not that useful for what we bought it to do, but may turn out to be helpful to do other things. HR will need to stay open to change, learn to manage change in the organization, and be brave enough to say: “Hey, this sucks. Can we remember to care for employees and listen to what they need to do great work and love their jobs?!!”


The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

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