HR Technology Q & A with Steve Boese


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 Next Official Blogger and 2014 HR Technology Conference Co-Chairman, Steve Boese

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 5 years? 

SB:  I think recruiting and related technologies for candidate attraction and employer branding are areas where we will see the influence of new technologies probably more than in some others. There has always been an affinity or a propensity for recruiting and recruiters to be more on the forefront of technology advances at least in the past. I also see training and employee development as an area that is ripe for more change and disruption from new technology. We are seeing this particularly when it comes to more social, collaborative, and employee-driven approaches to creating and sharing learning content. Since most employees carry powerful smartphones and may soon be using wearable technology like Google Glass, the barrier for the creation and dissemination of knowledge has been dramatically reduced. So I would look to training and knowledge sharing as another area that will increasingly be transformed.

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?

SB:  Technology is going to be an important element in this journey from “traditional” HR to more of a trusted business advisor. We see this manifesting in several areas - how modern assessment technologies are better able to predict the candidates most likely to succeed in a role, how organizational capability and skills map to future or anticipated needs, or what triggers or signals might be available to predict in advance which high performers are at risk of leaving the organization. These kinds of insights, and many more, are just a few examples of the kind of data-driven business information that HR leaders can provide and make recommendations based upon that I believe will continue to elevate and strengthen the overall HR function in the C-suite.

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?

SB:  There is definitely some tension at play here, between employee’s increasing demands and expectations of having their workplace technologies accessible and functional on any device and at all times. The good news is that the HR technology solution providers are responding to these demands with second and now even third-generation mobile solutions that were designed to be “mobile-first”, adaptable across devices and operating systems, and fully integrated with application and platform security protocols and data access requirements.  The new mobile capabilities that are being developed by providers like Oracle, Workday, ADP, SAP, HireVue, and many others are now fully able to meet even the most stringent security and access requirements.

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

SB:  That is a great question as it gets to what has sometimes been an issue for HR technology solutions in the past - namely they were designed primarily by people that did not have much actual HR experience.  I think that in many solution providers that is changing however, as they have expanded their product strategy and management groups to include more people with HR backgrounds as opposed to technical or software development backgrounds. The sweet spot is probably somewhere in the middle, where the organization has a good balance of subject matter experts, top class developers, and the ability to assess and distill functional requirements into effective technical solutions. But the days of HR technology providers being just made up of IT people are, I think, largely gone today.

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?

SB:  Solutions to support Talent management processes are for the most part almost exclusively being delivered in the cloud. This has enabled many more organizations, even small and mid-size organizations, to have access to extremely powerful and capable technologies that in the past might have not been so easily available to them. This trend will certainly continue, as even the older, more established HR solution providers like Oracle and SAP have developed and/or acquired cloud-based solutions for core HRMS and Payroll, Recruiting, Learning, and the other areas of Talent Management. And so I think we are still in the early phase of a really prolonged period of technological progress when it comes to HR solutions. The increasing importance that HR leaders and organizations are placing on data, analytics, and soon predictive analytics to make better workforce planning, hiring, and development decisions will help to propel the HR tech market forward. And the realization by organizations of all sizes and types that the real key to competitive advantage and enduring success lies in their ability to find, attract, align, develop, reward, and engage the very best talent possible will ensure a robust market and environment for HR technology solutions that can help them achieve these goals. 



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