HR Technology Q & A with Jessica Miller-Merrell

With the HR Technology Conference (#HRTechConf) just around the corner, we're inviting our Next Official Bloggers to offer their perspective on how technology is impacting the profession today -- and their predictions for the future.

The following is a Q & A with Jessica Miller-Merrell  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?

JMM:  I am of the belief that HR is at a pivotal turning point where we are moving towards being the most important executive at the organization. The conference board found earlier this year that talent is the number one priority for a CEO this year. I only see this trend continuing. 

Because the role is changing, HR can use this shift as an opportunity to define their future role in an organization. This can be accomplished through understanding the business and communicating clearly how employees, HR and talent are more important than ever. We now have the technology, reporting and predictive analytics to support our efforts. HR has to step outside their box and get uncomfortable to accept their new role as strategic business advisor for their company. 

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

JMM:  Employees come to work with the expectations that the technology they have at home will be matched at work. This includes computers, tablets, mobile phones and 3D printers. This fact is pushing companies forward to purchase software, technology and tools that can be accessed and leveraged across all types of devices, computers, especially mobile. Your mobile phone is the most important piece of technology in your life. We have it on our person at all times. This means our workplace communication, technology and resources should be centered around the device. Otherwise, our communication efforts have no effect on our business or our relationship with the employee. 

Q.  What are the advantages of combining both HR professionals and technology process experts to design software that will address HR’s future challenges?

​JMM:  Technology experts must work alongside HR professionals to understand when, why and how they need technology. ​Otherwise, their efforts are worthless and HR as well as the productivity of an organization will suffer. The ripple effect will be wide reaching. 

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?

​JMM:  The future is in the cloud. ​Even still HR teams are slow to move forward from on-premise software to SaaS technology. The shift is happening although slow. The next 24 months is where we will see the tipping point. Once an organization moves to cloud based software, HR teams are able to have more access to better analytics, metrics, resources and information to aid in their decision making. The speed at which this information is available is on demand. No longer do we have to wait 2 days to pull a report from which the data is 3 months old. We have real time access to information to make better decisions for our workplace and employees. 

Learning management is a growing area in HR technology. Predictive analytics and big data are also areas where I see a number of changes coming. Imagine resources where companies can quickly measure influence within an organization and engagement levels based on your company's electronic communication by email, text and other collaboration technology. 

Q:  What's your HR technology trend prediction for 2015?

​JMM:  There is a continued move towards proactive recruiting taking advantage of technology and the building of talent networks and pipelines by individual organizations. I see a shift towards the use of wearables at work for the purposes of health and wellness, productivity and employee engagement. With all these innovations, HR has more resources and information at their disposal to meet the growing expectations and demands of their senior leadership team. 



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