This article was written by Rob Caul, CEO of learning and talent management solutions provider Kallidus.
Imagine a world with easy access to critical information at breakneck speed. A world where every employee uses technology to collaborate more effectively, and where everybody in the workforce uses smartphones and tablets.
Such a world is not too far in the future so HR must prepare and invest accordingly.
Technology continues to change our daily lives, offering greater mobility, collaboration and improved communications. While many of us are still finding the best ways to adapt to the new waves of technology that are rapidly changing our organisations and the face of HR, today’s students, the ‘digital natives’ and individuals just entering the workplace know no barriers when it comes to technology. Instead, they have grown up in the midst of the digital and mobile revolution and have their own set of unique experiences and expectations.
So, with new technologies emerging and evolving all the time, which technologies should HR professionals elevate to the top of their agenda today?
From mobile technologies to social media and integrated talent systems here are the five key technologies which I believe offer the greatest opportunity to improve employee engagement and business performance when harnessed effectively:
Mobile devices are beginning to replace the traditional desktop workstation environment and are becoming increasingly essential among today’s more global and mobile workforce. Strategy Analytics estimates that there are more than one billion smartphones in use worldwide, meanwhile according to a recent iPass report, 64 percent of mobile workers now carry a tablet, and 61 percent of a worker’s day is within range of a Wi-Fi network.
With employees increasingly using their own mobile devices in the workplace, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies are becoming more flexible to accommodate a wider range of personal devices. Eighty-on of global companies surveyed by iPass now accommodate personal devices in the office and 54% have BYOD policies in place.
Organisations are increasingly looking at the best ways they can capitalise on this proliferation of mobile devices and are investing more resources on developing applications for recruitment and learning. There are a number of clear signs that mobile learning is taking off. Meanwhile, HR systems that integrate with mobile phones are still a way off.
SaaS (Software as a Service)
Demand for SaaS-based HR solutions has surged during the past year or so with HR becoming one of the key business functions adopting SaaS. And the trend towards SaaS is likely to accelerate further as more and more companies explore the benefits of running their HR platforms in the cloud.
So what are the benefits of SaaS? There are clearly many including lower cost of entry and initial investment as well as the potential to reduce Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). SaaS enables immediate access to the latest innovations helping to ensure software applications are always up-to-date, as well as enabling more configurable, functionally rich applications. SaaS usually means less involvement is required from IT.
Social networking tools
From LinkedIn to blogs, wikis and Communities of Practice (CoPs) social networking tools have a key role to play in uniting global teams and providing forums for new ideas and initiatives, offering the potential for business innovation and growth into new markets.
In the quest to improve employee engagement, social networking tools are likely to play an even greater role in learning, performance management and recruitment over the coming years.
Employee social networks can make a very real and tangible contribution to the business providing there is a clear purpose for the network created. A report published by McKinsey Global Institute last summer estimates that social networking in four major business sectors could add $900 billion – $1.3 trillion in value to the economy. The report reveals that while most social networking is currently used externally, the use of social tools internally to enhance communications, knowledge sharing and collaboration has the potential to enhance the productivity of highly skilled knowledge workers by up to 25 percent.
The business value of using gaming techniques is becoming increasingly attractive and is playing an increasingly important role in making the workplace more engaging and productive.
While there is still a lot of hype surrounding gamification, during the next few years it is likely to become a larger part of key HR processes, particularly given the influx of the newer generations into the workforce who already value ‘experiential learning’. When designed correctly with clear business objectives in mind, gamification can be successfully applied to employee performance, learning and development, personal development as well as health and wellness.
Gamification is set to become increasingly important in employee engagement and in motivating people to change behaviours and develop skills. According to analyst Gartner, by 2015, 40 percent of Global 1000 organisations will use gamification as the primary mechanism to transform their business operations.
Integrated talent systems
Finally, with organisations being more global than ever before and so many core HR processes directly impacting each other, never has there been such a need for a single source of HR information.
Technology has become an invaluable enabler, bringing together core processes such as talent management, succession planning, performance management and learning to provide a uniform enterprise-wide view of critical HR information, and removing silos of legacy and archive data.
So what’s next for technology? Without doubt it will continue to evolve and offer new challenges and opportunities. However, it’s important not to jump on the bandwagon without concrete proof of the benefits it can provide in empowering today’s mobile and social workforce and in engaging, developing, managing and retaining talent. Those companies that embrace technology stand to benefit greatly. Those who chose to ignore the potential it offers, do so at their peril.