Roop Kaistha, Regional Director - Talent Innovation Centre, APAC, Randstad Sourceright
One of the biggest challenges for human capital leaders today is understanding technology’s role in managing their workforce. Traditionally HR has not driven the technology agenda, but that’s becoming a necessity today. The reason why is innovation increasingly acts as a fulcrum upon which organization can lift themselves above the field and gain a competitive advantage. By having tools that help them access better talent more quickly and cost effectively, employers ensure they have the people resources needed to drive engagement and growth.
While the mandate to leverage technology is clear, how to execute is not always easily achieved. What we hear from human capital leaders is that CIO and technology teams often are not aligned to HR when it comes to driving efficiencies for acquiring and managing human capital. This is not deliberate, but due to competing priorities and the ambiguous nature of HR technology, competing visions of how tools are selected and implemented can arise.
While most HR leaders have a clear understanding of the impact that technology can have on their day-to-day operations, they might lack the deep domain expertise to really understand how technology can enhance their work, as well as how to change their processes to incorporate technology. As a result, many questions go unanswered. For instance, how can AI and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) help expedite their access to skills and talent? How can a blend of humans and machines be optimized to elevate outcomes? How can talent analytics help companies better support business ambitions and growth plans? Technology can play a role in all of these matters, but how is the vexing part of the equation.
The good news is that HR leaders don’t need to go at it alone. CIOs can often facilitate with answers. They can provide guidance to ensure investments don’t become shelfware. At the same time, third-party solution partners are also becoming more integral in making sense of new technologies. By identifying opportunities for automation, recommending high-payoff investments and mapping a path for adoption and implementation, some providers are fast-tracking adoption. So even when HR lacks the expertise, they have multiple resources that can help. Also, CIO organisations have a good understanding of change management required in the processes by leveraging technology and they can provide that expertise to their HR counterparts.
Why it matters now
According to analyst Josh Bersin’s “HR Technology Market 2019” report, companies have grown their HR budgets for technology by 10% in the past year, far ahead of GDP growth in most markets.
The proliferation of human capital tools offers opportunities and challenges for HR and its relationship with technology teams
This isn’t surprising considering the pace of innovation occurring in this sector. At the same time, more startups are entering the field, accelerating the release of tools more than ever before (this is evidenced by last year’s big spending by venture capital firms).
This has led to an unprecedented number of new offerings and solutions in the HR space. It also means companies can now digitize their back-office functions more quickly. More than ever, these tools alleviate workers from labor-intensive, low-value tasks to focus on high-touch, high-value work. For example, sourcing talent is increasingly being taken over by machines. In the past, recruiting “ninjas” were valued for their ability to find the right talent for employers. Today, finding the talent isn’t the problem; it’s engagement.
So tasks like sourcing, resume parsing, interview scheduling and other low-value tasks that used to require manual labor can be taken over by technology. The role of the recruiter or sourcer now shifts to engagement and advisory, helping hiring managers better determine the talent they need while engaging with the right candidates.
Companies taking advantage of the proliferation of technology are much better positioned to attract and acquire top talent more quickly and cost effectively. Over time, this will lead to a business advantage and a stronger market position. Organizations that lag in adoption will find it more difficult to attract talent and face mounting challenges in both their rank-and-file pipeline and their leadership development programs.
To ensure their organizations can leverage new innovations, HR leaders need the support of their IT peers. Like any technology, human capital tools require effort to implement and adapt. The more functionality a tool delivers, the more internal change and training are needed.
Then there are the technical aspects requiring collaboration with IT, legal and other departments to make them all work. Concerns about data privacy, user inertia, CapEx and OpEx costs and many others should be considered well in advance of any investment. This is where the CIO and technology teams can really support their HR counterparts to deliver the promise made to business together with the partnership.
Traditionally, the following considerations come naturally to the IT teams, and if they can help educate and support their HR counterparts, the journey of digitization will be much easier. These include:
Assist with due diligence of investments by supporting HR to visualize how different technologies integrate with the organizational process and interact with enterprise systems.
Support a project management organization structure to deliver projects and adopt an agile methodology.
Collaborate on change management since CIOs possess an iterative and structured understanding that is highly effective in bringing about technology change.
Set up external support around implementation through from technology vendors as well as outsourced service providers who can accelerate change and support the three areas mentioned above.
As HR leaders look for more opportunities to leverage innovation to make their talent strategies more impactful, they will undoubtedly need to support of their CIOs. This wasn’t always the case in the past, but now more than ever the two functions must collaborate more closely to ensure their organization remains ahead of competitors during these dynamic and disruptive times.