HR technology disruptions for 2016



Late last year, I read about a leading employer that had incorporated gaming technology into the company’s recruitment process. With the help of a software developer, the company designed a game—the setting is a forest kingdom and one of the challenges is to find as many fireflies as possible to help light the make-believe world—that would help identify people with skills in innovation and problem-solving. That company happens to be Deloitte in the UK, and our colleagues there are already talking up the app’s capability to identify high potential recruits.

This is just one of the many transformational changes happening in the HR technology environment. In his article HR Technology for 2016: 10 Big Disruptions on the Horizon, Josh Bersin, the principal and founder of research and consulting group Bersin by Deloitte, highlights 10 leading trends that HR practitioners should consider for this new year. Here are some of those trends:

1. Consumerized HR technology: think employee tools, not HR tools

Whereas a decade ago, HR systems were designed primarily to help HR professionals streamline their work, Bersin says many HR applications nowadays are meant for employee use – to help them manage people, learn, and steer their own careers. Vendors are developing HR applications that are fun, can run on mobile phones, and help improve work productivity. Further, Bersin sees the proliferation of HR technology that will be able to provide continuous onboarding and transition assistance, automatically assess work behaviors, and even offer feedback on improving work-life balance.

2. The “appification” of everything: mobile apps as a new HR platform

With the growing popularity of smartphones—venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers (KPCB) estimates that there are now more than 2.1 billion smartphone users worldwide—it is no surprise that mobile apps have become the primary technology platform of choice. If you are looking to “appify” some of your HR tools, Bersin says the most effective mobile apps are those that are simple, social, use location data, and take advantage of different services. While he believes almost all HR functions can be reconceived as an app, Bersin thinks the areas of focus for this year will be engagement and feedback systems, learning, time and attendance management, and expense reimbursement.

3. New software categories: feedback, engagement and culture management

Engaged employees are productive employees, so it’s no wonder that more and more tools are going to market with a focus on employee feedback, pulse surveys and engagement monitoring. Bersin sees “feedback management” becoming a new software category in itself as organizations focus on getting the real pulse of their employees’ concerns and needs.

4. The Reinvention of Performance and Goal Management with Feedback and Check-ins

Performance reviews are not the sort to inspire excitement; I suspect even leaders do not much enjoy evaluating and ‘grading’ direct reports and trying to remember concrete instances when an employee showed potential. This is why the trend for performance management systems is leaning towards simpler, less time-consuming models.

Deloitte in the US, for example, revamped its evaluation process—which used to consume close to 2 million work hours a year—so that raters now have to respond to only four yes-or-no statements at the end of every project: (1) Given what I know of this person’s performance, and if it were my money, I would award this person the highest possible compensation increase and bonus; (2) Given what I know of this person’s performance, I would always want him/her on my team; (3) This person is at risk for low performance; and (4) This person is ready for promotion today.

5. Learning experience middleware: integrating content from everywhere

The need for skills development is fueling growth of training tools and content that is, according to Bersin, “expert-authored” and more specialized. He also sees the rise of “middleware” that will help integrate the content experience and make it easier for Chief Learning Officers to curate the best content for learners and endorse new content as it becomes available.

6. Growth of predictive analytics: the value from new vendors and solutions

Bersin predicts that predictive analytics will likely be one of the most important feature sets in HR technology platforms in the next few years. Already vendors are offering software that can predict which employees are likely to bend the rules, help diagnose engagement and leadership problems, and determine whether or not a new office layout is working for employees. These software can address a wide variety of problems, but as Bersin points out, it is also important that organizations “work to clean up their data and create better standards for data collection.”

Considering the number and variety of software and applications addressing nearly all HR functions and needs—and there are more being developed as I write—companies are spoiled for choice. If you’re having a hard time deciding on a vendor, or if you’re looking to evaluate the technology you already have, Bersin offers a simple criteria: employee engagement. If your employees like using the tools and these tools are fully integrated into your existing environment, then you may have a winner in your hands.

The author is the Managing Partner & CEO of Navarro Amper & Co., the local member practice of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd., a UK private company limited by guarantee (DTTL”). Deloitte provides audit, consulting, financial advisory, risk management, tax and related services to public and private clients spanning multiple industries. It has more than 220,000 professionals worldwide, including those in Deloitte Southeast Asia Ltd., which covers Brunei, Cambodia, Guam, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.


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