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    « Bad Habits, Pressure, and Results | Main | Native Languages: An HR Technology Conference Review »

    Software is Eating Human Resources

    It is pretty apt timing that this piece, 'Software Is Eating Marketing', was posted on the Inc. blog just one day after the conclusion of the HR Technology Conference, the three-day annual gathering of HR Technology solution providers, HR leaders and practitioners, and the collection of press, analysts, investors interested in the space. You'll like it

    As myself and others have more frequently posited, (here on this blog most recently just about a week ago), the function, practice, and skills needed in Human Resources in the future will look, feel, and act more like traditional marketing ones, and less like traditional HR.

    And, as the recently concluded HR Technology Conference continues to reinforce, the future of HR will be powerfully influenced and in some ways driven by technology - not just the traditional kinds of HR Technology that are necessary and routine, but by a continually evolving and advancing set of new technological innovations that promise to ensure that the most savvy HR professionals of tomorrow will have as a key competency a familiarity, comfort, and deep understanding of technology.

    The Inc. piece, about the influence of technology and software on marketing, could have just as easily be written about technology and Human Resources. Take a look at a few paragraphs from the 'Software is Eating Marketing' piece, with 'Human Resources' substituted for 'Marketing' as in the original piece, and tell me it doesn't read just as tellingly:

    Within the $1 trillion Human Resources industry, the impact of software eating Human Resources has now reached the board room.  With the explosion of digital Human Resources, it is clear that technology is radically transforming the Human Resources function and the role of the Human Resources professional. 

    The repercussions of social, mobile, video, Big Data, CRM, cloud and other disruptive forces are impacting all aspects of business, but particularly Human Resources. As a result, Human Resources leaders and agencies now carry the burden of understanding technology’s impact on their business, the entire customer experience, and leading innovation within their enterprises, not simply following a course set by their IT department. 

    In much the way Apple disrupted the music and phone industries with smart industrial design and clever software that shielded users from complexity, technologists are building sophisticated systems with interfaces that are as simple for Human Resources and designers to manipulate as their iPhones. 

    If you think the last few years were disruptive, imagine how much the Human Resources industry will be transformed in the next three years!

    Even with the sort of excessive repetition, those sentiments from the original piece about the growing role and increasing importance of technology on marketing make just as much sense and reflect one of the most significant industry trends for Human Resources as well.

    It's a simple logical progression really. If HR = The New Marketing, and Marketing is being consumed by technology, then one could plausibly argue technology is eating Human Resources.

    And just as the smart marketing professional knows that he or she needs to embrace these changes, so to does the smart HR and Talent pro.

    But you already know that right, I mean you're reading this, which I'd gather indicates you are one of the small, (but growing), ranks of HR pros that get the fundamental changes and incredible opportunities that a real understanding and appreciation of technology and software present to both your organization, and to your professional development.

    It is a great time to be in the HR Tech space, I think.

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    Reader Comments (5)

    Substitute "business" for HR or Marketing and it works too... everything is being eaten by tech - including people. Technology is PEOPLE! (ht to the movie Soylent Green.)

    October 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Hebert

    It doesn't appear to me that HR is being eaten by technology but saved by it. As more and more reporting, payroll, and similar duties are moved into automation, HR can begin focusing on recruitment strategy, corporate culture initiatives that reduce turnover and increase productivity, and resolving employee issues.

    HBR and other publications have noted the changing face of HR at many larger companies that could afford to implement all the available tech. These HR departments have become the cultural directors at these companies, and are armed (because of the technology) with the data they need to show why a powerful HR department can be a revenue generator for their organizations.

    October 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

    Paul - love the Soylent Green re-set! It's PEOPLE!!!!!!

    John - Interesting take and I think probably a better way to look at it. But are there dangers of the technology having a kind of de-humanizing effect? Time will tell.

    October 15, 2012 | Registered CommenterSteve

    Thank you Steve. The dangers are certainly there, especially if non-HR management looks at the technology and decides they don't need HR. The companies that are benefiting the most from HR technology are those that realize the automation gives HR staff _more_ time to deal with actually 'human' issues and strategy. (There's a discussion panel topic here just waiting for a moderator...)

    October 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

    Super points, John - ultimately the winners will be the ones that can do much more than simply automate, cut costs, and get more efficient -eventually the formula is innovate or die. Let's hope that HR teams will keep working to drive that part of the solution too.

    October 16, 2012 | Registered CommenterSteve

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