Sunday, 6 November 2011

#HRTechEurope Human-Centric HR Technology


   My other current interest, other than integrated talent management, is human centricity (see this post on the recent ConnectingHR unconference).

So I had this article published in the HR Technology Europe conference guide:


“One hypothesis that I will be testing out is whether Europe’s generally more progressive approaches to HR (versus the hire and fire culture in the US) results in a different focus for HR technology use.

I believe there are three different ways that organisations can gain value from HR technology. The first, and I think least significant, of these is through the provision of a single (or at least a clearly defined) system of record. This type of technology gives HR robust and accurate data about the people the organisation employees and means that HR can start to take more sensible decisions about the workforce.

The second way that HR technology provides value is by informing the decisions of line managers and business leaders. This value is provided by talent or human capital systems, particularly the new integrated platforms, that allow managers to interrogate data for themselves, to gain better understanding, and as a result of this, better leverage, of the people they employ. I think this is where most HR technology professionals, at least in the US, have been most focused over the last five years.

But the third way that HR technology provides value, which I think often provides the greatest benefit, is by enhancing the productivity and performance of individual employees. This is where office systems have long been focused but it is where some HR systems have acted too. For example, well over a decade ago I was involved in setting up a self-scheduling system for a train operating company. Because this allowed individual employees to enhance their own productivity, it had a much more significant impact on the performance of this business than anything we could have done to give managers more oversight of the way that shifts were being set.

The opportunity to provide HR technology for the workforce is currently being enhanced in two main ways:

  1. Firstly, there is the very rapidly increasing ubiquitousness of mobile devices which are starting to be used by HR system vendors for their applications, and provide a very real opportunity to give employees much more input and control over the way that they work.
  2. Then there is the similarly exponential increase in the use of social media tools, often used by people on their mobile devices, to connect people together and offering a new opportunity to significantly impact the performance of organisational networks, communities and teams.


Why I think this is interesting is that the key to these latter opportunities is an understanding of the people in a particular organisation, and the way they work. This is about HR technology becoming more people-centric in order to find those key needs that technology can support. It is also an almost direct contradiction to much of what is said about HR technology and the need for this to be more business-centric (see for example, this recent article at TLNT, ‘Why HR Technology needs to focus on being more business-centric’).

It will be interesting to see whether this different, people-centric technology approach comes out through the HR Tech Europe conference at all.”


Well, I can’t say it was a huge theme, but again, maybe that’s due to the general lower stage of maturity.  My hope is that the new HR technology conference will help Europe catch up a bit more quickly, and maybe evolve to a different, more human-centric, approach as well.


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