Some might argue data is an organization’s most valuable asset. Others will unequivocally say it’s your people. But few will debate this: those companies who manage to bring together the latest in technology with the best of the employee will outperform the competition and be the leaders in the marketplace.
This intersection of people and tech was on full display last week at HR Tech World in San Francisco. I had the privilege of attending the two-day event, where I mingled with Human Resource Officers (HROs), learned from keynote speakers and thought leaders, and tested the latest tech solutions at the vendor booths. From SAP SuccessFactors to Workday, IBM to Cornerstone, Deloitte to ADP – they were all there, making this conference a must-attend for those like me who are interested in exploring the latest ideas, best practices, and technologies to transform HR in the digital era.
Here are a few of my takeaways from my two days at HR Tech World:
- “Breaking HR”: So much has changed in the last five years, say nothing of the last 30 years. And yet, as Cisco Chief People Officer Francine Katsoudas explained in her presentation, many global, Fortune 100 organizations are still running HR processes and technologies that were developed for a 1970’s workplace. Katsoudas argued that to capitalize on the promise of the digital age companies must think and work differently, which means incremental HR improvements may need to be pushed aside in favor of a complete overhaul. In other words, we must have the courage to “break HR” if we want to truly lead the Future of Work.
- Put people at the center: An organization’s digital transformation initiative cannot succeed without effective workforce transformation. Internal processes need to follow the employee experience and not the other way around. Tech-native millennials have new expectations around what makes for a great workplace. Saddling them with archaic processes or legacy systems is a recipe for failure, a sure-fire way to doom any transformation effort. As HR thought leader, author, and LeapGen CEO Jason Averbook noted on stage, “HR technology drives culture,” so invest in the best tech.
- Tech is getting smarter, faster, easier: It seems like just yesterday that vendors at events such as this one were touting their cloud capabilities as a tech differentiator, but now the cloud is table stakes. Today, the new tech battleground is around artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) – you couldn’t walk five feet without hearing new vendor strategies and technology capabilities to help automate and accelerate routine tasks that were once the domain of only humans. “Rethink processes with machine learning,” demanded Yvette Cameron, SVP and Global Head of Strategy at SAP SuccessFactors, in her presentation. She asked, “are your systems and processes ‘continuous, connected, intelligent, and live?'”
- Data integration – The keys to unlocking HR transformation: To be honest, I got lost a few times in the Exhibition Hall, what with the dozens of vendor booths touting their solutions for recruiting and onboarding, payroll and compensation, learning and development, performance management, workforce planning and analytics, and more. While many vendors offer “HR suites,” with several applications that are said to seamlessly work together, I spoke with several HROs who admitted they’ve got dozens of HR applications in place across their enterprise, and often from multiple vendors. Maybe ADP for payroll, Cornerstone for performance management, Workday for talent management, and so on. Getting them all to work together remains a struggle for most companies, putting a strain on budgets, resources, productivity, and time-to-value. Time and again, I heard – “Integration, integration, integration!” – the companies I met, across all industries and of all sizes, repeatedly said it was a top priority to find better, faster ways to integrate apps and data sources across complete, end-to-end business processes, such as hire-to-retire, for example.
It was a great two days. Lots learned, and lots to do as we continue to help our customers in HR integrate their applications and data sources to accelerate HR transformation. I look forward to next year’s HR Tech World event.
Diletta D’Onofrio leads the Digital Transformation Group at SnapLogic. Follow her on Twitter @ddonofrio13.