What lies ahead in HR tech space?

This post first appeared in DNA India on 4th January, 2018.

It’s that time of the year when everyone is making predictions about, well, pretty much everything. In the HR Tech space, there are articles galore about the new technological innovations that will take the world (or at least the HR world) by storm.

Words like artificial intelligence (AI), chatbots and machine learning are bandied about with much abandon. A look at similar articles from the previous years though would seem to suggest that such themes have been around for a while. Sometimes, just the nomenclature and the names change but ground realities seem to be different.

Or are they? It is my firm belief that any and all technology will be taken up only when it is seen to be useful; when it can make someone’s job easier. Technology, just for technology’s sake, is great and will be gobbled up by early adopters and enthusiasts, but will rarely make it to the mainstream unless there is some significant advantage that it confers on its users.

Looking at the range of HR Technologies available in the market, it is obvious that there are areas where these can help take HR to the next level. So here’s where I think that organisations can get the most bang for their buck across the employee lifecycle.

Systems: While most organisations are far away from the utopian world of using AI for their HR needs, there is a growing realisation that the first step towards transforming their HR strategy is in putting in place the necessary systems that can help bring together all the data. Firms know that the days of running functions by Excel sheets is over and that if they need to benefit from the slew of new-age technologies hitting the market, they would need to put their data systems in order. There is no point in going for a high-tech solution when internal data systems are fragmented and not robust. I expect more companies to start utilising cloud-based CRM and ERP solutions, not all of which are SAP or Oracle.

Hiring: This is probably the most crowded space in terms of HR Tech solutions and with good reasons. Hiring is a major challenge in a talent economy. Moreover, in a country like India where hiring no-shows and attrition percentages are high, hiring the right people can make a significant difference to a firm’s performance. I would expect organisations to move past typical mass solutions like job portals and look for more targeted hiring solutions that can reduce their overall time-to-hire.

Engagement: Employee experience is a key driver of employee engagement which, in turn, impacts the productivity, efficiency, and eventually, the top and bottom lines for organisations. Organisations are waking up to the reality that they need to provide employees platforms to give and receive feedback and recognition and tie them to rewards.

Retention: Over the last couple of years, a number of companies providing Learning and Development (L&D) solutions have done well because organisations realise that retaining employees also implies providing them with the platforms to upgrade their skills.

While a few companies might go in for the likes of chat-bots and other seemingly fancy solutions, I suspect that more pragmatic solutions with greater strategic advantages are likely to be the ones that they finally invest in this year.