Keeping pace with technology

The fusion of technology and HR is gathering momentum across many workforces. How can HR stay relevant and make full use of these new platforms to drive their business value? HRM Asia explores.

An ever-changing work environment, sharper technology systems, and new cloud-based software applications are just some of the factors driving a technology revolution for today’s HR professionals.

Add in the proliferation of social media platforms that are increasingly being used for recruitment, and it’s clear the HR profession is fast-moving into the next generation of talent recruitment and assessment.

“The vast majority of hires today are either Generation Y or Generation Z candidates,” says Simon Bradberry, Managing Director, Asia-Pacific, Resource Solutions.

“This means that there is a demographic imperative to acknowledge the demand for new technology solutions. HR needs to rise to this challenge far better than it has done to date.”

Interestingly, new technologies to help HR support businesses through anticipating and managing organisational change are also now available.

“Human capital management systems allow HR to manage the people aspects of change, so that employees can perform in a ‘business as usual’ mode,” explains Jack van der Velde, CEO of Unit4, Asia-Pacific.

“Organisations need people-centric enterprise solutions that provide the tools to communicate, plan and problem-solve in a speedy and cost-efficient manner.

“As such, companies need to not only focus on their capabilities but also ensure that their internal functions are agile. They should embrace business change in order to weather the upheaval from the digital disruption the industry is witnessing,” he adds.

Emerging trends

New technologies are transforming nearly every part of HR, from sourcing and recruiting talents to performance management, and also learning and development.

According to Bradberry, these trends are being seen in almost every aspect of an employee’s life at work including through organisational values such as transparency, consumer experience, and diversity.

“HR is not alone in being impacted by the trends. It needs to recognise them and wake up to what we are witnessing,” he shares.

With the prevalence of digital transformation today, van der Velde notes that data analytics continues to be vital across workforces.

He says new techniques and strategies are emerging to help analyse the tidal wave of information available.

“Smart software packages will autonomously analyse the terabytes of input and then suggest solutions and outcomes to their human ‘masters’,” he says.

“Self-learning programmes that uncover insights beyond human comprehension will gain a solid foothold.”

Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) are also utilising HR technology to drive business growth. They have, in fact, led part of the migration to cloud-based platforms.

“They started with applications that were not core to their business mission, and in a short time, more and more mission-critical apps have been moved to the cloud,” van der Velde says.

“This year, we also expect the large multinationals to join the party as enterprise-strength cloud solutions are increasing, and security fears are waning.”

Full leverage

Organisations can put effective and agile HR applications in place, but if they are not used to their full potential, they risk failure on two fronts.

The organisation would see little or no return on investment on the new technology solution, and HR practitioners may have only inconsistent or inaccurate data to base their strategies on.

Bradberry says the ability for an HR department to make use of technology is highly dependent on its agility.

“In my experience, smaller, newer firms find it easier to rapidly implement and reap the benefits of new technologies than larger, more established organisations,” he elaborates.

Well-utilised technology solutions can impact the workforce in a variety of ways, van der Velde notes.

In particular, they can help to attract and retain good talent, he says. The right technology solution can also help to plan and match skill levels to project pipeline requirements.

Van der Velde says the best-fitting technology products can also help organisations on a strategic level. These integrated platforms allow HR to gather data and perspectives from other departments, providing a holistic view of the organisation’s challenges and opportunities.

In addition, the right technology can reduce the volume of administrative tasks, particularly among regional offices where firms can run HR processes automatically and only intervene when necessary.

In-demand services

Global company Resource Solutions adopts a unique method to help organisations identify the right technology solutions for their needs.

“We have resolved this by presenting ideas to our clients, identifying the most appropriate tools and then going ‘in to production’ under the umbrella of our service, rather than asking the client to contract directly,” Bradberry shares.

“This enables larger organisations to see the benefit of the technology while avoiding some of the red tape – such as developing an internal business case – that might otherwise delay a decision.”

Resource Solutions also provides specialist recruiters who are embedded with the client’s HR department onsite. An off-site support team that reviews up to 10 products a month is also part of the standard offer. The best of these new technologies are than shared with the on-site teams to use on a day-to-day basis.

Unit 4, meanwhile, offers a self-driving Enterprise Resource Planning solution as well as a regional offering, the Prosoft HR Management System.

“The services and software we provide are meant to free HR teams from administrative tasks so that they can adopt the role of a strategic business partner within the organisation,” van der Velde says.

Ahead of the game

The HR function can best keep track of its growing volume of data by investing in the right, scalable technology solutions, van der Velde continues.

In people-centric environments, he stresses that HR should pay close attention to the specifications of technology and what each solution provides in order to stay relevant.

In particular, he says technology must:

  • Address the challenges and priorities of the business and industries;

 

  • Deliver an enhanced user experience that combines the best consumer application design with a smart business focus;

 

  • Create an architecture that allows users to adapt applications easily at the pace of business change, without external consultants or IT experts; and

 

  • Offer customer-defined application delivery, whether on-premises, or on the (private or public) cloud.

 

“More than ever, it’s time for a new focus on empowering people and people-centric industries,” van der Velde adds.

For HR professionals who face difficulties and time constraints to transform ideas into production, Bradberry highlights the importance of engaging a third party provider.

“It is far easier to work with a trusted partner who can do the legwork for you,” he elaborates.

“It is a strong case for outsourcing or partnering with an organisation who can add real value to the HR function.”

Analysing the Workday advantage

Sandeep Aggarwal, Chief Financial Officer of Aon-Hewitt Asia-Pacific, shares his thoughts on the Workday finance and HR analytics platform. He says the cloud-based system is intuitive and easy-to-use, but still provides powerful insights across the functions.

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