If you never thought of HR technology as sexy, people who write big checks might disagree with you. According to CB Insights, an organization that tracks venture capital spending, investments in this sector have been explosive. From 2011 to 2015, funding rose more than 800%. Last year alone, growth clocked in at 62%.
Why is money gushing into HR technology? More than ever, technology is transforming how companies attract, acquire and manage talent. With the rise of analytics, increased recruitment marketing adoption, greater deployment of automation and robotics, reinvention of applicant tracking systems, the explosive growth in mobile usage and many other developments, HR is significantly investing in tools that will optimize and enhance their processes and results. I’m sure your own organization has seen a notable spending uptick on innovation and tools. Looking ahead, you might have budgeted even more in 2018.
That’s because you and your peers realize that with so much innovation available, HR has the opportunity to elevate its strategic value like never before. In addition, you don’t want to fall behind in this current wave of tech rollouts. According to the 2017 Randstad Sourceright Talent Trends Report, even though 77% of human capital leaders surveyed said their companies are making appropriate levels of investments, a majority still believes competitors are outspending them. At the same time, 63% said HR digitalization has either had a positive impact on or transformed their business, with 78% predicting the influence will continue into 2017.
On the talent management front, 79% say adoption of new technology has enhanced the engagement, attraction and retention of talent. To win talent, they are investing in recruitment marketing platforms, candidate Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, social platforms for content and job distribution and many other innovations. To enhance process efficiency and engagement, companies are spending more on self-service tools, HR and talent analytics dashboards, workplace culture systems, online training and additional platforms.
Focusing on tools to improve HR’s output and value is just one part of the equation. At a time of increased automation and robotic usage, any company not considering technology to improve products and services faces a bleak future. Self-driving vehicles, drone deliveries, customer self-service platforms and many other examples highlight the threats and opportunities for every business.
getting ready for tech
Investing in technology can be risky for most companies. Shiny new toys are introduced daily, and choosing the ones that will give you the greatest return is not easy. For HR leaders to make the right choice, they must possess intimate knowledge of their existing processes, map them against the capabilities of the investment being considered, envision a path for integration and determine whether the payoff is justified. They also need to differentiate alternative technologies competing for their dollars. This requires HR to acquire a new set of technical expertise to complement their traditional people skills. If you don’t already possess this competency, you need to come up to speed quickly.
How can you ensure your organization is ready to leverage new and existing technologies? What do you need to integrate people with tools to create an optimal outcome? Before you even begin looking for gaps in your tech toolbox, make sure you can do so competently. I often see clients who enthusiastically embrace a new technology based on the input of its internal stakeholder. This strategy is great if it is based on a thorough understanding of current needs, process deficiencies, future requirements and available market solutions. What happens if you lack any of these inputs? How many of your past investments are now shelfware?
With such a rich offering of technologies in the market today, it’s more important than ever to develop a sure sense of your needs and challenges. Ironically, to effectively invest in technologies first requires investments in people — skills that will help you make the right selections, reengineer processes based on innovation and move forward based on your overall vision. Don’t get me wrong, not all tech buys require a comprehensive examination of every HR process or service, but each one should fit well into your overall tech strategy.
You can acquire this competency in two ways: internal investments or external partnerships. Which one is right for you? Start by assessing the skill set of your existing team. Do you have the right strategists and tacticians to carry out your vision? If not, what will you require at what cost and how quickly can you access these resources? In many instances, you may need only to slightly upskill existing team members; in others, adding headcount may be a reality.
If an internal approach is too costly or time-consuming, seek out an existing partner or turn to a new advisor or supplier. Make sure they possess relevant experience and expertise in the technology you need, have worked with similar types of organizations and are a good cultural fit. The last requisite is especially important because technology is an ongoing investment, so you’ll want them to be around for some time.
With the right HR skills in place, choosing and implementing enabling technology can be less stressful and nerve-wracking. Just remember: technology alone can’t solve all of your problems. You will always need human intelligence to make the best use of tools. To learn how best to integrate your talent with technology, request our 2017 Talent Trends Report today.