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    « The Week to Talk Technology | Main | O Canada »

    Why Technology?

    I am getting ready to head to Chicago later this week for the HR Technology Conference, a three day extravaganza of all things workplace and technology and I started thinking about the reasons why technology is implemented in organizations, and the key drivers for the executives that write the checks and give the go-ahead for big tech projects.

    Cost reduction - Process 'XYZ' costs us too much today, lets apply a technology solution that will reduce 'XYZ' cost.  A solid reason in many cases, but if cost reduction is the sole or primary objective of the technology project, it will have limited effect, and it certainly is not all that interesting.  Lots of outsourcing deals are done on cost reduction alone. So HR Technology vendors that pitch primarily on cost reduction may be successful, but they too probably are not all that interesting. Have you met very many really fascinating accountants?

    Compliance - HR knows all about the demands (certainly in the USA) around compliance.  Whether it is payroll, benefits administration, EEOC regulations in the recruitment process, it goes on and on. And truly it seems there will be a continuously expanding set of demands on HR for 'required' reporting and disclosure.  Compliance sucks, it is a pain in the neck, and your CEO demands that HR places a high priority on it, since he/she does not want to end up on a perp walk one day. Compliance is REALLY important, but also not terribly interesting.

    Efficiency - Spin this as 'improving productivity' or 'doing more with less'. It usually comes down to this type of discussion : We have to perform activity 'ABC', and it takes too long, we make too many errors, or not enough employees actually complete the process.  A great example in HR is the annual employee performance review. There are plenty of technology solutions that can be applied to performance management issues to increase participation, ensure consistency, and speed up the process. Certainly these are all important, and if you believe in the strategic value of the process itself, then clearly simply improvement to the process can drive organizational value.  Vendors that offer technologies to support process efficiency typically also enable the next and more important reason for implementing technology.

    Performance - I am not just talking about individual employee performance (although that is the critical element that supports everything else), but rather overall organizational performance, and the support necessary to execute the business strategy. Technologies that assist HR in attracting the best talent, ensuring that employees are aligned with and fairly measured on critical organizational objectives, have access to great resources for training and development, and finally drive compensation and rewards appropriately are probably what most great HR leaders are looking for.  In the last few years technologies that also facilitate, enhance, and improve employee 'connection' and workplace collaboration are on the radar of HR leaders.  These technologies, when chosen carefully, applied creatively, and managed effectively can lead us to the final aspect of technology in the workplace.

    Fun - How many workplace technologies just suck the life out of employees? From bad interfaces, to redundant steps, and arcane language bad HR technology can drag down the organization.  The best and most exciting new technologies do more than automate, they improve and add value, AND engage users on a whole new level.  Technologies that benefit individual employees as well as the company are the ones that are the most interesting and compelling today. Work has changed, no one (hardly) stays in one place very long, tools that employees see as enhancing their personal effectiveness, skills, and value are in many ways the future of HR Technology.  Systems that move beyond 'Doing my job better, faster, cheaper' to 'Making me better, smarter, and more connected' are the ones I want to see at HR Technology this week. What is more fun than growing as a person and as a professional?

    If you are at the HR Technology Conference this week, be sure to find me, I look forward to meeting as many people as I can.

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    Reader Comments (2)

    Steve - Your point about Fun is a great one. Individual incentives to use and engage with HR technology will become more and more important. We think in the future you'll have to think more like a designer of consumer web-services, less like a top-down ERP to get high impact results with people.

    September 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel Debow

    Daniel - Thanks so much for the comments, I know that the team at Rypple takes these concepts to heart, and I think in many ways companies like Rypple will be leading the future of enterprise technology. The best technologies work for the 'real' user, and thinking about how the top consumer oriented sites work is a great idea.

    September 28, 2009 | Registered CommenterSteve

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