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In Praise of Know from #HRTechWorld

I was lucky enough to be with HR Tech World in London in March (@HRTechWorld) and it is surely the flagship event for those interested in the bridge between the technology and HR professions on a global basis – an event to be taken seriously in the industry.

One common theme to the work-streams and highlighted features struck me. We saw channels about analytics, #disrupthr, global and “glocal” solutions to old-style payroll managed service (or the good-old Ulrich shared service centre) and the talent and recruitment strategies for future workforce generations, expecting their tech experience at work not to lag between that of their home lives. All could be summed up with the tabloid headline “Keep up HR!”

But an equivalent message is noted by conference delegates and event sponsors, who are largely the heaviest-weight tech vendors (rivalry in the corners!) and that is “Keep up Technology!”. Because no-one at HR Tech World is safe to assume that we are ahead of the demand from the user employee as a driver that’s accelerating ahead of supply. So, all are in the same boat.

It is tempting by response to write an article “in praise of slow”. This not just on behalf of an HR profession but on behalf of plain old common sense. Will we really be overtaken by bots, gazumped by app tools that snap our talent away from us before we even know they’ve logged in, enabled to derive complex analytical insight from big data by giving our wearables a Paddington stare? And if we were, and we were to allow it all, would it really be sensible to evolve a working society at this pace of change? You’ll find me very often in discussion with clients and consultants about differentiating gimmick and substantive, useful feature too and that’s another strong argument in favour of a back-to-basics approach with HR systems.

Instead I propose a conclusion from HR Tech World for HR that is “in praise of know”. I see the acceleration of the user and employee experience (which equates to demand in your employee market) and the technical capability behind these powerful tools (the supply) feeding off one another to create something of a tide. It is this combination which sets us up for exponential growth for people technologies and a flourishing part of our HR, payroll and employer world. That tide it would be foolhardy to fight against.

So, I say let’s not go slow, but let’s know. Get to know the technology that is the new present-day HR, even if it is just a little bit. Most likely you don’t need to attend #HRTechWorld unless you’re system-selecting on a pan-European or global basis or just seriously interested in tech (let that be my business!) but get a little bit more comfortable with the possibilities. Which of your organisational HR strategies do you have an inkling you could be whizzier with? Is it learning? Talent and recruitment? Analytics? Take a look at what you’ve got in house. Find a friendly person in IT, or amongst your partner network who’d invest a few moments to decipher some of what is out there for you. Perhaps even just avoid blocking the ears when the kids talk about something beyond you.

HR Tech World comforts me that those in the HRIS business are on their toes and inviting the HR profession to be so too. I’m not in praise of slow; but I am of know.

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