How Technology is shaping the HR landscape

The past couple of decades have noticed a marked change in the way the HR sector functions. From becoming a sector at the forefront of business to adapting to the latest in technologies, HR has grown by leaps and bounds.

It was in the early 2000s when technology and process automation began to be integrated with the HR function. Since then, HR technology has come a long way. Over the past few years, with innovation and new technology, the HR landscape has seen a tectonic shift. Companies are now becoming technology savvy and incorporating technology at levels greater than basic application.

This shift is timely and relevant to the current era which is often touted as the information age. Customers and employees alike seek to stay connected and engaged. The responsibility of the HR, today, is to think of employees from a customer perspective. With more employees valuing non-monetary benefits such as learning, growth and remote working as compared to the possibility of simply sticking around with one organization for a lifetime, HR has the added onus to retain them over a long term.

Leading companies have set out their own methods of tackling disruption in digital, concerns related to performance management systems, and providing digital platforms that conform to the inter-generational workforce. They are integrating mobile, cloud, social media and digital analytics with the HR function to make the working of the department seamless and hassle-free for a workforce that is always on the move. They are doing this keeping in mind the need of the millennials as well as the comfort levels of the older employees.

The Indian HR tech market stands at the 0.51 billion dollar mark at present and is pegged to double this by 2021. HR technologies have brought about disruption in the Indian and global workspaces. Blind screening is a huge game-changer. With the use of this technology, only eligible candidates will get called for the interview process. This cuts out human bias and brings in fair play. Similarly, enhancement of employee experience through digital HR has also brought about change in the way Indian companies work.

The scope for adoption, implementation, and innovation in HR management systems is far greater in India as compared to more developed countries where older HR management systems are already in place. It is assumed that Indian companies could save as much as $600 million annually by 2021 with the use of HR technology. This derives from the fact that India Inc. spends nearly $500 million every year in managing the full-time talent.  

HR is the key to business transformation

Employees are the backbone of any successful organization and any organization can sustain success by being relevant to the times. HR teams are enablers and accelerators of the changes seen in a business. A key step in retaining good talent is to create great organizational culture even if it requires a complete cultural shift. This mandate rests on the shoulders of HR.

Business transformation in the era of the digital revolution is mandatory. Businesses which do not keep up with the trend will fail sooner or later. The technology adoption and implementation with the view to improve the efficiency of processes has been achieved to a great degree in the past few years. However, this adoption and implementation have mostly been applied to the administrative aspect of HR. The same needs to be extended to the strategic aspect of transformation that transcends industries.

The digital revolution in HR has a collaborative role which augments the capabilities of humans. The fear that underrides the hesitation in accepting HR technology completely is that it may replace humans. Though not completely unfounded, the fear is unnecessary. This is because while HR technology removes a number of intermediate steps involving human participation, it does create a number of other job roles for humans. HR management needs to understand these changes in business roles and work to provide necessary training to existing and prospective employees.

Function-wise high adoption is important

The adoption levels of HR technology are high in HR operations such as payroll and attendance, performance management and recruitment. Many companies have achieved process automation to a high degree in these areas. The adoption levels of HR technology in areas such as learning and development, compensation and benefits, onboarding, and communication and collaboration have seen growth but still leave a lot to be desired.

Low technology adoption has been observed in the areas of engagement of employees, rewards and recognition, strategic workforce planning, succession planning and employer branding. These functions show very little automation. HR teams need to focus on the areas which show mid to low automation to enhance the efficiency of processes.

Investment in HR technology

Companies understand the importance of HR technology in their future success. Most companies are therefore either keeping investments in HR technology steady or increasing them. The functions that are likely to see increased investment are learning and development, performance management, recruitment, employee engagement and communication and collaboration. By collaborating HR with technology and investing in automation, companies are looking forward to faster and result-oriented solutions.

The challenge of adopting HR technology

HR as a function is indispensable for any business. However, its automation and technology adoption suffer some constraints. The biggest of these constraints is budget. While numerous HR technology service and software providers have sprung up, with more than 200 HR technology startups founded in 2015, adopting the software and services come at a cost which is often beyond budgetary constraints of many companies.

Another constraint is when the technology selected is unable to solve the business problem at hand. Different problems may come up at different times in a business. For example, the company gets software to support its recruitment process, whereas the problem arises in employee retention, then the software may become futile. A third constraint is faced when the change introduced is unable to produce the desired results. For example, automation of employee application and recruitment is deployed but it fails to get the most suitable candidates for the job. The underlying reasons could be different ranging from wrong targeting to incomplete communication crafting. Thus, availing a certain amount of expertise in understanding digital solutions or hiring outside help has also become desirable for HR managers.

Improving Implementation

It is important that the challenges of HR tech adoption in companies are addressed. However, simply adopting technology does not bring in results as has been observed in a number of cases in the country. The problem lies with the change management associated with technology adoption. Here are a few things that must be done at the time of technology adoption to improve results:

  • Process-mapping: Paying attention to which processes can be utilized as they are and which need to be customized as per the company requirement is important. At times, a complete redesign or choosing an alternate process which is better suited may be an even more time and cost-effective strategy.
  • Chief HR technology officer: Or someone else from the c-suite with the relevant skill in HR technology and the power to effect a change must be at the helm of HR tech adoption and implementation.
  • Full support product: The implementation of HR tech suffers when data is sourced from excel sheets and other disintegrated systems. Getting an HR tech product which provides full support for sourcing and processing data from such systems is helpful in faster and better implementation.

The future

The future landscape of HR is that of complete integration of processes through digital technologies. The technologies will require being easy to use so that they can be adopted by HR managers who are not tech geeks. Measurable metrics from data analytics would be much in demand across industries. All these would be combined to create engaging platforms for employees and customize solutions for individual companies. The future would cater to the mobility needs of employees and HR technology would be accessible through different devices. These HR technologies would enhance the capabilities and productivity of the organization in a measurable and sustainable way.


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