Main image of article 14 Projections for the Future of HR Tech

It would be great if we could look into the future. Then we'd know what stocks to buy, which team to bet on, and more importantly, in which HR technologies to invest our time and money. Unfortunately we don’t have a crystal ball, but we did ask a number of HR and recruiting professionals, “What’s the next wave of HR Tech?” We narrowed responses down to our 14 favorites.

1: Consolidation of HR information systems into ERP systems Full HRIS, ERP & CRM integration from a single vendor solution.Enterprise software companies with enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions such as IBM and Oracle have been purchasing human capital management (HCM) systems such as Kenexa and Taleo, respectively, to create a more complete solution between current business operations and future talent. “Big data and cloud computing will dominate the management of the funnel from talent community to finalist to hire,” says Yazad Dalal (@yazad), VP of Global for TMP Worldwide. “These systems will conspire to make candidates feel like they're part of the company before they're even recognized applicants.” As a result of this consolidation, HR tools will be used by both HR professionals and employees. “Managing people, setting goals, finding information, training, and collaboration are functions that can be performed through the tools of an HR talent management system, which behind the scenes also serves as a toolset for the core employee system of record,” says Josh Bersin (@bersin), CEO of Bersin & Associates.

2: HR’s role will evolve as their responsibilities are consumed by the business Flexible, Dynamic, DiverseWith this continued consolidation of operational systems, HR is losing many of its standard roles and responsibilities to normal business operations. “Recruiting, resume screening, interviewing, employee selection, background checks, citizenship checks, benefits and deductions, and employee evaluations all are going online and directly in support of the hiring manager,” says Kenneth Larson (@smalltofeds), founder of Smalltofeds. “The HR technologist will have to gravitate into employee development and professional enhancement fields to remain relevant.” “The Future of HR tech is that it’s going to get rid of the paper pushing,” says Dan Arkind (@danarkind), CEO of JobScore. “It will create efficiency and transparency that allows HR professionals to have more time to make HR the strategic function we all know it can be.” “HR needs to be in position to help change the business,” agreed Nov Omana (@novine), Board Chair of IHRIM, who suggests HR become responsible for the creation of a flexible workforce that can respond quickly to the business environment.

3: More focus on business as HR is outsourced to the cloud Easy integrated solutions“In the years to come we'll see HR become more and more integrated with the technology infrastructure of the company while utilizing outsourced technology solutions to make the day-to-day tasks of managing human capital more efficient,” says Brian Roland (@AbenityCEO), President & CEO of Abenity. “Everything from payroll to employee perks, and benefits enrollment to recruitment will happen 24 hours a day in an online atmosphere that encourages collaboration, reduces redundancies, and encourages human resource professionals at all levels to focus on strategic level work that moves the business forward while minimizing isolated and disruptive tasks,” says Roland. “The core of the organization will be reduced to a few hundred people focused on core functions such as marketing, product development, and executive duties,” says David Coleman (@dcoleman100), Founder of Collaborative Strategies, Inc.

4: Tech will take over compensation, succession planning, and training Performance management that works for employees as well as managers.Depending on which platform you choose, Taleo (now owned by Oracle), Ultimate Software, and Workday all have compensation and succession planning offerings which integrates nicely into a firm's HR technology. The tools are designed just for the manager, complained Steve Guine. “Ideally, I would like to see a totally automated environment which allows the manager and employee to control the levers of employee careers paths and measurement,” says Guine. It gives both parties the power to impact the future of their role in the company. It can reduce turnover, and entry-level positions can truly be seen as a real gateway for employees to map their careers. While we’ve yet to see automated technology do this, we have seen companies work with employees to map out their future. Zappos refers to the method as “The Pipeline.” We interviewed Ryan Carson, CEO of Treehouse, who adopted this same employee management philosophy at his company.

5: More data requires automatic data collection and analytics Harnessing big data“As social business platforms continue to grow inside of organizations, HR will have more information about their employees and the culture than ever before,” says Matt Hixson (@matthixson), CEO of Tellagence. “They are going to be affected by the need to make sense of this data and leverage it to improve the organization.” Jumpstart:HR CEO Joey Price (@JVPsaid) believes HR pros will finally be able to convince executives to invest in HR systems that automatically track and monitor census, staffing management, EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity), AAP (Affirmative Action Program), and other metrics that employees spend hours calculating incorrectly. “Metrics are important because they are diagnostic tools to help you point out problems, points of reference for growth and status and, a great tool to communicate the relevancy of HR-specific problems to non-HR people in your organization,” says Price.

6: Real-time performance and productivity tracking Microchipping employees to track time + attendance“The future of HR tech is about managing people in real-time inside of the applications they already use,” says Scott Allison (@scott_allison), CEO of Teamly. “Managing goals and aligning teams becomes day-to-day life, not a once a year event.” The point is not just to benefit management, but to benefit the employee, too. Proactive companies will stop worrying whether employees are wasting time on social media. They’ll track their behavior and make it a game everyone can be a part of. “Look at productivity measurement solutions that record how active or inactive an employee is, what applications they are using, how many keystrokes per minute they are typing, and more,” says Edward Kwang (@MySammySoftware), President of MySammy. “Then offer rewards and incentives to do better."

7: Improve employee efficiency through behavioral changes Next generation of workforce analytics that enable executives to make smarter decisionsCollecting data is step one. Next is to turn that data into analytics. Then you want to act on that information. Sociometric Solutions, a startup out of MIT, has deployed wearable sensors to understand how employees interact in the workplace to make organizations and people more effective and happy. They were able to improve call center operations at Bank of America by 20 percent just by tweaking employees’ break structure, says Ben Waber, PhD (@bwaber), Sociometric’s CEO. Sociometric’s data shows that quality face-to-face interactions result in more productive employees during their work hours. With this understanding, Waber says they aligned coffee breaks for people on the same team. “Those increased cohesive interactions yielded large performance gains through enhanced information sharing and decreased stress levels,” says Waber.

8: Software that pre-interviews candidates More digital interviewing!!! Time saving!The one message we hear again and again is that recruiting takes too long. What if we had a program that asked pre-screening questions so as to route the candidate to the best department or determine whether they could even work for the company at all. “HR Tech will automatically generate specific pre-screening exams based on the applicant’s resume,” predicts Peter F. Young (@sjsusvcgs), Director, Silicon Valley Center for Global Studies at San Jose State University. This kind of pre-screening will facilitate the routing of the potential candidate. Similarly, candidates and recruiters could benefit from a mobile application filled with recruiter-fed “knockout” questions such as:

  • "Are you ready to take this job?"
  • "What is in the way of you not taking this job?"
  • "What else do you need to know about this job to raise your interest"

This will speed up the process and improve dialogue with applicants, says Lorne Epstein (@lorneepstein), Principal at Electric Cow.

9: The resume’s relevance fades, while visible contributions rise Social gamification“For the tech field, the resume is increasingly irrelevant,” says Jonathan Rick (@jrick), CEO of The Jonathan Rick Group. “People want to see your actual work, not bullet points that describe it. ‘Show me the work,’ rather than ‘Show me the resume,’ will be the tech recruiter's mantra.” “Scoring systems based on a candidate's social networks will become more common,” says David Patrick (@dddpatrick), VP, Corporate Development, The David Allen Company. “Measures of personal commitment and ‘capital’ become common as tools that allow people to provide purposeful and accessible feedback become more commonplace.” This is definitely becoming true for developers whose contributions to open source communities such as GitHub are, outside of a publicly released product, the best example of a developer’s talent.

10: More personalization of jobs fed to candidates Personalization + automationAt this year’s TechCrunch Disrupt conference, we saw a lot of young startups trying to improve the process of feeding candidates the best jobs possible. These tools let you rate jobs, let your friends recommend jobs to you, and most all of them were accessible through your mobile phone. Jeremy Langhans (@jer425), Global Brand and Talent Attraction at Expedia sees personalization being rolled out in two different ways:

  • Device and vehicle agnostic: Communications happens via any medium the candidate so chooses, such as SMS, email, Twitter, or web page.
  • Predictive: It’ll know when the candidate is looking for the next job. Could possibly monitor social behavior to determine when you’re available.

11: Search for the right balance between automation and human touch Paperless! Automation!“I think we're moving to more technological based solutions but no one can qualify or quantify someone's skill better than recruiters speaking with the actual candidates,” says Mike Barefoot (@redzoneresources), Senior Account Executive for Red Zone Resources. If we had unlimited resources and time, that would be possible, but we know that’s not realistic. When we swing to the other side of the pendulum, it puts the onus on the applicant to fill out lengthy forms, for which many refuse. This results in an impasse. “I know too many associates that will not fill out these lengthy computerized applications and surveys as well as employers that are fed up with unqualified applicants,” says Gregory Goldberg, an advisor in hospitality industry management practices. “As a result, many positions do go unfilled or are chalked up as attrition.” “We are struggling between automation using hiring algorithms, applicant tracking systems, and the personal and human touch that we desire as consumers, employees, and candidates,” says Jessica Miller-Merrell (@blogging4jobs), CEO of Xceptional HR. “Companies that get this right are going to have a huge advantage.”

12: More standardization and integration with applicant tracking systems (ATS) Collaborative hiring“In a perfect world, there would be some standards in place that would allow all career websites and applicant tracking systems the ability to ‘talk’ to each other fluently,” says Evan Lesser (@ClearanceJobs), Managing Director for Lesser is frustrated that there are only one-off integrations and recruiters have to deploy different methods and practices for each of the tools they use. “Every company seems to have its own application format that must be completed which is extremely frustrating to job applicants,” echoes John Selig (@johnrselig), Marketing Manager for ASI, from an applicant’s viewpoint. “Ideally, there would be a standard for data collection so an applicant from one career website would have the same information as from another,” says Lesser.

13: More and earlier face-to-face conversations with video interviewing Video interviews“Video allows employers to explain a lot of information to job seekers in a more engaging format that can also promote their brand. It adds essential visual and social qualities to the job description that make it easier and more attractive to applicants,” says Rob Kelly (@ongig), CEO of Ongig, who likes video interviewing not only because it works, but because it saves money. James Matheson (@James_Matheson), VP, Marketing for Blue Jeans Network, sees video continuing as a management and collaboration tool used after the hire. “The future of HR tech will consist of video conferencing to hire, engage and retain geographically dispersed employees,” says Matheson. “The phone call will be a relic of the past, and the video meeting will be the de facto way of managing a remote workforce.”

14: Embrace existing tools, don’t just create new ones Embedded into business processes - not its own process.“We need to innovate with the technology we have, not necessarily imagine new technologies,” warns Gerry Crispin (@GerryCrispin), Cofounder of CareerXroads. Crispin believes we need to begin our HR tech journey with what’s already out there. Instead of imagining the next collaboration tool, try using the social networks you already have and inviting colleagues or candidates to participate. “HR technologies already exist to change the world,” says Crispin. “We need to embrace the adoption of the technologies and scale them within and beyond our corporate boundaries.”

Conclusion: Did our predictions match yours? What did we miss? Is this what you believe to be the future of HR tech? Is there something else coming down the pipe that we missed? If so, please add your thoughts in the comments below. We’d like this article to be a resource for all HR and recruiting professionals to use.

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Thanks to Joy Powers for conducting research for this article, and for photographing attendees of the HR Technology Conference & Exposition. See 223 photos on the future of HR Tech on Flickr.