The Human Resources profession actually has very rich history in the use of data to make decisions. Back in 1911 an engineer by the name of Fredrick Taylor started the whole industry with his book “Principles of Scientific Management,” a book which looked at the science of physical labour. Taylor pioneered time and motion studies, learning for example that laborers who carry 75-pound billets of pig iron are less productive than those who carry 50-pound billets. His work, while demonized by many, actually analyzed the data behind physical work and gave us a whole new science which was later called industrial engineering.
A few years later another Hugo Munsterberg, a student of Taylor, extended these ideas into the world of psychology. Munsterberg, in his book Psychology and Industrial Efficiency, pioneered the idea that it is not only the physical strength of a worker but also his or her psychology (intelligence, memory, attention, skills, nature) that defines business productivity. This breakthrough idea (which today seems obvious) started the industry of worker selection, testing, and job analysis. He actually simulated the job of a trolley car driver to understand how to optimize their decision making, comparing this job to that of a ship captain. This early work was the beginning of what was later called the “assessment Centre.”
Along Comes HR Technology
While all this science of “people” and “work” was done over the last 80 years, another wave was taking place: the implementation of HR technology. It was only in the 1970s that computers were powerful enough to hold HR data and in the last 40 years we have seen HR technology shift from mainframe HR and payroll systems to client/server HR software now to web and cloud-based software which manages HR, payroll, and nearly every talent process.
The real breakthrough which led to the datafication of HR we see today was the advent of the “talent management suite” which started in 2005. The first company that tried this was Authorial (now part of People Fluent), but dozens of other companies now play in this market and there is more than $4.5 billion of talent management software sold today. The unique breakthrough of the talent management suite, which makes it transformational for talent analytics, is that these systems now store a wide range of data about people and how they work on an ongoing basis. Talent management systems (and new integrated HRMS systems) know your performance history, your education and background, all your prior job assignments, your leadership roles, your training, the tests you took (usually), and now even your social interactions while at work. So these systems are a gold mine of information to help us understand what drives performance, engagement, leadership, and collaborative work.
Trend 1 – “Repurposing” Your Human Capital
Finding it difficult to hire, managers often forget about one of the most effective tactic HR specialists sometimes use – moving current workers to available job opportunities across the company. Of course, any given person must possess the particular skills that are relevant to carry out the role’s responsibilities.
A second and no less effective tactic is to use alternative human capital, such as contractors, freelancers and outsourcing partners. This approach to talent acquisition works best for companies facing rapidly changing business conditions. For example,
• If there’s need to urgently reinvent one of your technology systems like ERP and don’t have skilled in-house specialists. In that case, one can outsource it’s new technology project to a dedicated development team.
In accordance with global trends in the alternative workforce, modern enterprises have an amazing opportunity to cooperate with vendors, contractors, outsourcers and freelancers who are located overseas. Besides, this kind of potential labour capital is typically cheaper and, thanks to up-to-date technologies, easily accessible.
Trend 2 – Using Technology to Recruit
With strong screening and sourcing technologies in place, HR managers can recruit and hire first-class specialists in a timely manner. Unfortunately, not everyone has such capabilities at their disposal. Having optimized technology at your fingertips allows recruiters and HR to find, source and select candidates more efficiently. They are able to focus on data-driven decisions – strongly considered the best approach to hiring procedures.
A vivid example of how new technology influences HR processes is the use of modern tools powered by artificial intelligence. For example,
• Modern organizations are now using chatbots to optimize their application processes. Among other human resources best practices, there is the rise in-video interviewing, which allows HR teams to screen and select the candidates who best match any position’s roles and responsibilities.
Machine-learning tools can also work wonders in your recruiting processes, helping you to create a complete image of potential candidates. These tools provide huge benefits to modern businesses by automating hiring process, which reduces time for screening candidates and increases time for high-value activities.
Trend 3 – Reinventing Talent Acquisition
New approaches to talent acquisition encourage human capital specialists to not only find new ways of accessing Talent, but also widen their perspective on the Talent view. Rethinking the Talent acquisition mindset is vitally important for improving HR processes. Companies need to reimagine what their potential employees may look like, where they might find them and how to best use modern technologies at their full power. For example, you might be used to offering full-time positions only, yet there’s a trend toward hiring alternative capabilities like remote employees and freelancers. If you want to keep pace with the times, you should keep these tendencies in mind.
Trend 4- The New Battleground of Software
Emergence of the ERP providers stepping on their space ( Oracle , SAP , Workday).
Oracle and SAP have now absorbed the acquisition of Taleo and SuccessFactors respectively, and customers are starting to see more integrated end-to-end suites. SAP-SuccessFactors now has nearly 25 million users, Oracle-Taleo is rated #1 in market. Its not only focused on making software easier to learn: it’s focused on making it possible for employees to use these systems themselves, effectively freeing up hundreds of HR staffers who do administrative work.
• Evolving Assessment Science and BigData is Changing The Way We Source (pre-hire assessments) -SHL, Kenexa (IBM), DDI, Korn Ferry etc.
• MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses) -Coursera, edX, Udacity, Udemy, iversity
• HR Vendor-Provided Middleware is Becoming a Standard-
Oracle, Workday, SAP, SumTotal (elixHR), and PeopleFluent (Colossus)
How New Technology Makes Operations More Effective
With all these new trends in mind, let’s take a look at how the implementation of new technology can optimize and improve your HR operations. We’ve already mentioned that AI is having a huge impact on the human resources sphere. It’s also able to quickly connect quality data with computation services to create valuable insights. Let’s check out some of the key benefits that artificial intelligence provides.
Benefit 1 – Managing Information About Employees
Artificial intelligence can structure analytical information in order to offer valuable insights on every aspect of your employee records. Once authorized to do so by an employee, managers can access that employee’s data, which can include any information they wish to see – job history, performance level, appraisal process requests, etc. And employees have the ability to view and update their personal information, such as their contacts, address, vacation days available, approval status for days off and vacation details.
Benefit 2 – Training of Employees
It’s no secret that many companies are facing the problem of a skills gap. With AI in place, team leaders can better plan training opportunities for their team members. And the technology makes it easier to track the training progress and define which skills most need to be thoroughly trained.
Benefit 3 – Automating Routine Tasks
To focus on high-value activities, HR managers can leverage AI-powered tools to automate processes that are repetitive, routine or carried out manually. Processes such as onboarding, screening resumes and sourcing new skills can be easily handled by machines, and customized to your needs.
Benefit 4 – Enhancing Hiring Processes
Tools such as chatbots can help managers access potential candidates through multiple talent pools and channels. Resume screening ensures more accurate candidate profiles, ultimately resulting in better work performance and better productivity.
Some of the most efficient tools AI offers to the HR industry are language processing, cloud solutions, bots, digital assistants, automated machine learning and APIs for business functionalities. As you can see, AI-powered apps can definitely improve the productivity of both HR specialists and employees. These apps offer powerful tools for greater collaboration across the organization, more accurate analytics, better predictions of future trends and clear, valuable insights. When implementing AI technology, be sure to consider and define what you’d like it to do for your company, how it can fit within your operations and what tools you need most of all. The future of human capital is here, and it’s time to get moving – or get left behind.
HR is a huge marketplace: every company with more than 10 employees has some type of HR software in place. And today’s HR tools are used by managers, employees, candidates, and part time contractors, so everyone “uses” them. As technology changes, disruptive ideas and vendors come to market. It’s an exciting space, and every year it surprises us with new directions.
• The 9 Hottest Trends In HR Technology … And Many Are Disruptive (forbes.com)
• Big Data in Human Resources: A World of Haves And Have-Nots (forbes.com)
• The Datafication of Human Resources (linkedin.com)