I am just back from the SXSW Interactive Conference where I spent time with tens of thousands of geeks, nerds, dorks, and techie wizards. Not everyone at the conference was a Gen Y hipster — although it felt that way. I was tremendously fortunate to meet amazing men and women of all ages who had impressive resumes and interesting stories.
The one unifying theme? Everyone in attendance was passionate about technology, mobile devices and digital media.
It was a fun scene. I couldn’t help but think that the next great leader in Human Resources might be found at SXSW among the computer engineers, specialists and programmers in skinny jeans and ironic t-shirts. After all, HR is beginning to align itself with the movement to understand and interpret big data. The attendees of SXSW are men and women with experience in marketing, complex data analysis, and new product development.
It sounds very techy, right? That’s because it is.
The future Human Resources department will represent the ultimate convergence of psychology, sales, marketing and technology. The days of organizing the company picnic and plugging away at boring excel spreadsheets will eventually end. (I promise.) Our CEOs and CFOs will expect us to monitor, interpret and modify human capital strategies to match — and even change — the company’s overarching strategic goals.
For the first time in a very long time, we will have honest conversations where our executive leaders will say, “We expect you to adjust the company’s ‘people strategy’ to make money. Get to work.”
That’s capitalism, folks. HR is on the verge of catching up to the rest of the organization.
So how do we manage a company’s people strategy in a new and effective way?
Well, good question. HR is one big department filled with tangible items — payroll forms, budgets, benefit paperwork, policy handbooks, and time sheets — and it’s also a division that is tasked with managing a bunch of intangible experiences such as engagement and performance metrics. The future of HR would be so awesome if you could hire a high-potential candidate who understands the complexities and intricacies of branding, product development and consumer preferences and could apply those lessons to your workforce.
Dang. That would be powerful.
So if you ever have a chance to attend SXSW, go check it out. Talk to the kids who paid good money to attend. I would love to see you meet and hire a young professional who has good old-fashioned computer engineering skills combined with an impressive understanding of business execution strategies.
I bet some of those kids at SXSW have some ideas you’ve never even considered. In general, I really hope you can step out of your comfort zone and talk to candidates with a strong background in technology. You won’t be disappointed.