HR Technology Q & A with Maren Hogan

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 Maren Hogan, founder and CEO of Red Branch Media..  
Q.  What is the single most important piece of technology an HR pro can have in 2016?
Can I say their mobile phone? The reason is this, literally every HR app worth having should be mobile. HR Pros aren’t all behind desks or sitting next to filing cabinets, so the technology, if it claims to want to help HR Pros should find a way to be useful, compliant AND mobile. If it isn’t, your phone will tell you.
Q. What important questions should HR professionals ask HR technology vendors in the selection process?
Emulate Janet Jackson and ask “What have you done for me lately?” There’s a reason our client partners have incredible service ratings. Technology is great and it can absolutely transform your work life but if you have poor or NO service model to back it up, customers know. I am crystal clear when I speak and consult, your vendors work for you, not the other way around.
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?
I don’t think automation and improved employee experience are mutually exclusive. In fact, I think one hand washes the other. We use automation to improve our employees experiences every day; from a world-class intranet that makes every job more visible and elicit feedback and help to an onboarding program that draws on both automation AND human interaction to make every new employee feel welcomed. We’re even automating part of workers’ jobs so they can work on more interesting and challenging projects.
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?
I’ve been hearing so much about the dovetail happening between HR and Procurement and the contingent workforce lately, it’s unreal. Just a few years ago, we heard how stuck in the past HR was, but really the forward thinking HR pros out there are contending with so much change, it’s a wonder they don’t just switch careers! I think it’s a real challenge because the workforce is changing at an unprecedented rate and HR is learning even more business skills than even the pundits were predicting just three years ago. It’s awesome.
Q.  What area of Human Resources profession (recruiting, OD/Training, comp/benefits, employee relations, etc.) do you see technology affecting the most in the next five years?  
I really hope it’s training, learning and employee relations. The strides we’re seeing in sharing information just in the last few years have given me hope that AI and real automation are just around the corner. I think this will naturally affect employee relations in forward thinking companies because employees will be allowed to work less on the drudgery stuff and more on the tasks and projects that light them up!
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