The future of HR technology
Predicting the future of any technology is a difficult task. Even the most gifted thought leaders in the industry have often got it wrong. But if we consider the factors involved – changing business needs, market forces, and the evolution of the internet – the way HR technology is developed, supported, and delivered is set to change is a big way.
Current HR software
We are currently seeing solutions driven by workflow. Data is captured, presented and interpreted by the user who ultimately makes a strategic decision. Recent events have forced many organisations to shift focus towards accountability, which means HR departments will be measurable down to the last dollar. In order to achieve this, HR will need new tools that interpret the business strategy into a measurable HR strategy. That means functionality that will effectively put employee related activities on the balance sheet. But it won’t stop there – HR software will become more intuitive, analytical, and predictive, with reports that give clear instructions to a user based on logical conditions being met.
The way an organisation is viewed will also be challenged. You will see functionality that offers different views of structure, beyond the traditional reporting. Expect to see structures based on costing, performance, potential and even value. These views will highlight strengths and weaknesses, and determine where to focus or cut spending. The software itself will be characterised by service-oriented architecture, web services, XML and object-oriented programming. The goal is to facilitate the delivery and usage of HR on a ‘software as a service’ (SaaS) basis. The application is hosted by the vendor and delivered via browser on a subscription.
Web 2.0 technology
The real change will be alongside the continual evolution of the web itself, that is, Web 2.0. With connectivity of 1 megabit, the workforce is most communicative and connected practically 24/7. It is here we can expect the impact and value of social software to be realised. In general, social media allows people to locate and communicate with one another. People can share and collaborate on any topic, and form virtual communities like blogs, wikis, social networks and RSS feeds. How will this translate to HR technology? One obvious example is connecting to job boards. From a workflow perspective, an approved recruitment request could be sent directly to Seek or MyCareer and the applicant placed back into the HR system.
Web 3.0: intelligence?
If web 2.0 is about connectivity, the next generation web is about knowledge. Information will exist in a format that software applications can access. By making information more accessible for software, information will be understood, processed, and new information created. In other words, the applications will become intelligent. Welcome to Web 3.0. With connectivity of 10 megabits, the connections made between applications will have attributes and profiles that that allow decisions based on selective criteria, searches and even behaviour. In short the web will understand itself. What does that mean for HR technology? If Web 2.0 involved publishing a position on a recruitment job board, at a minimum Web 3.0 will take your recruitment request and intelligently match you with the perfect candidate.
In Web 3.0, organisations will have the scope to develop and customise applications over the web without the need to install and manage software. Enter ‘platform as a service’ (PaaS). These customisable applications will be quite small, access data on the web and run very quickly on any device. This could signal the end of complicated HR systems, in favour of more specific multi-platform applications that HR can plug into as required. This will translate to HR software that is cost effective and flexible.
Future HR needs
We have always used our technology to extend our physical and mental reach, and we are now heading to a state where information converges into a virtual collective intelligence and solves problems. For HR to take advantage of this brave new world, we need visionary vendors that are flexible and reactive in order to deliver and HR professionals driving the need.
This article is first published in Human Capital magazine – issue 7.2.