Where are the next wave of HR leaders coming from, what do they need to know, and how will they drive change and superior business performance. Heady stuff.
Most of the guests on the show advocated for change; change in approach, change in education and training, and perhaps some re-assessment of the traditional role of HR.
And just like the HR professional is faced with change, so are the technologies that are used to support Human Resources, Talent Management, and workforce collaboration. Some of these changes are already in motion in full force, some are just beginning, and some are speculative, but at least to me, reasonably likely.
The move from enterprise systems being installed on company premises to being installed, maintained, and upgraded by the software vendor via the Software as a Service model (SaaS), is already firmly underway.
The trend started with ATS, progressed to Talent Management, has started in ERP, and was always in place for collaboration platforms. And many mid-sized to large organizations that are stuck with aging, expensive, and difficult to manage premises installed ERP systems will begin in earnest to evaluate SaaS-based alternatives that by design are more flexible, cheaper, and typically much more user friendly.
For the HR pro, this means less reliance on the IT organization than ever before. When HR applications are deployed via SaaS, only a fast internet connection is needed. Also, since SaaS licences are usually priced on a per-user monthly subscription, they are not Capital Expenditures, but rather funded out of Operating Expenses, and therefore typically much easier to fund from internal HR budgets.
Increasingly Human Resources enterprise systems will connect with and in some cases integrate with external or consumer oriented networks or platforms. Whether it is a company like Sage Software entering into a strategic partnership with consumer portal tool Netvibes, SumTotalSystems integrating Learning and Development applications with Facebook, ATS vendors like JobVite connecting with LinkedIn, Twitter, and others. or SAP building ties with the Jive Software platform for to integrate business intelligence data with wikis, the trend of the enterprise connecting with the external environments has started.
For the HR pro this presents a number of challenges. First, if your organization is one the actively block access to external social networks and platforms, soon you will really need to re-assess that position. Look, I won't repeat the same old arguments about loss of productivity, risk of company secrets being leaked, or employees posting inappropriate content on social networks.
Either you, as an HR professional either believe this will be important for future organizational success or you don't. If you do, you probably need to do more than whine and complain about it, and develop and present a cogent business case where loosening of restrictions and application or integration of social tools can derive positive business outcomes. More and more of the leading HR Technology solutions will embrace this trend, and you can either get out in front, or watch it roll by and maybe, if you are lucky jump on later.
What's to Come
Speculating on the future is dicey at best, but what the heck let's give it a shot.
Social emedded into process
Enterprise systems will continue to add and emphasize 'social' features, further blurring the lines between business process support, external social networks, and collaboration and expertise locator technologies. More solutions will focus on how end users in HR and employees in the enterprise actually interact with the application and that interaction will more strongly influence functionality and design. Examples might be a performance management process with dynamic ability to connect with subject matter experts on a particular competency or a workforce planning application integrated with external demographic data and content.
Just like many consumer sites 'remember' you and present content and functions according to your demonstrated prior interactions or stated preferences, more HR Technology solutions will move to simple and flexible personalization. Why do services like Amazon and Twitter have such tremendous uptake and growth? Part of the reason is that the experience to some extent is user-determined. Amazon can present recommendations based on your prior activity, and the activity of other users with similar behavior patterns. Twitter allows a user total control of the experience. In enterprise systems we will see much more extensive, simple, and adaptive personalization so that the systems fit individual desired interaction methods and preferred uses.
HR Technology will go more and more mobile. Access to information, notifications, the ability to progress workflows for recruiting, performance, or training and development will become the norm. Need to connect with a colleague, post a quick status update to the team, seek out the company's top expert on a particular topic, access some learning content, perhaps a podcast or video? All of these will be increasingly performed on smart phones and other mobile devices. Interaction with enterprise systems will be more flexible, available from a multitude of sources, and optimized for each. Systems that are flexible enough to be easily adapted to a variety of mobile platforms will have a tremendous competitive advantage.
What do you think? Where is HR Technology going? What will be the true 'Next Gen' solution?