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How technology is rewriting the DNA of human resources

The use of technology is creating strategic talent advantages for organisations. In talent acquisition, it is moving from integrated to embedded, AI to adaptive intelligence

Anup Jayaram        Last Updated: October 11, 2019  | 17:30 IST
How technology is rewriting the DNA of human resources
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Over the years, HR has always been using technology to solve problems, once it happens. Today, technology is rewriting the DNA of HR and has emerged as a tool to mitigate business disruptions. Now as people are entering into a mature phase of the experience economy, experience has become the central premise of everything. Employees are not as much concerned about 'what' as they are about 'how'.

"Today the world is divided into two - organisations or businesses living in a 24-36 months old paradigm, which is about bringing all pieces together, trying to stitch a story versus organisations that are state-of-the-art and are stitching the experience story," says Shaakun Khanna - Head of HCM Applications, Asia Pacific, Oracle.

The use of technology is creating strategic talent advantages for organisations. In talent acquisition, it is moving from integrated to embedded, AI to adaptive intelligence. The Oracle system, for example, will link to the LinkedIn ecosystem proactively about talent acquisition. Where could the pool of latent talent be present for your kind of work, which nobody else has tapped? It could be from various perspectives, be it geographical, quality, identifying the new institution or a course to fill our requirements.

You are a person who is successful in your organisation. The system will understand who you are and what you do and then will try to create a model of you. It will then go to the talent available on LinkedIn and try to figure out who are like you. The system could have identified two qualities of other successful people and start providing those insights to your employer and use it for their own strategic advantage. Currently six major shifts are differentiating the approach as well as the products in HR.

The first big shift is from enablement to experience. Just as people engage with brands that give them great experiences, they expect good experiences with employers too. This is being done by providing seamless mobility, full functionality across devices and locations and finally hyper-personalisation.

Seamless mobility means one is able to continue working from where one leaves it on the laptop. In functionality, as an employee, you need it whenever and wherever. The last aspect of experience is the hyper personalisation. Now the customer and the employee are expecting hyper personalisation to his own level. "So, I would like to see my family's picture in the background of my HR application," says Khanna.

The second shift is from analytics to insights. Now people do not want to have data. They want actionable insights. With machine learning, artificial intelligence analytics has matured. What is it capable of doing?  According to Khanna, "The system not only will tell me who is going to leave my team, but also what is it that I need to do. Is it relocation, a change of manager, or an increment?

So how does this work? Oracle recently launched a wellness module that tracks wellbeing of employees. Hypothetically speaking, if someone who is fond of running has not been running, the system will bring it to your notice and tell the manager that he is not running. It will analyse data and tell you that he took sick leave last week. So, depending upon the kind of the person he is, his age and his interests, you can not only predict but also prescribe action for the manager. Whether these actions will be taken or not, still is the manager's decision.

"Technology has simplified and streamlined talent acquisition and development, on-boarding, HR information systems, pay roll and performance management. Emerging technologies such as machine learning have enabled data analysis, which allows HR professionals to enhance talent relationship," says Hardayal Prasad, MD & CEO, SBI Card.

The third shift is from on-demand to proactive. Can the system proactively alert if something goes wrong? The idea here is to do something quickly before things get out of hand based on the information that you have.

"In order to do all the three things the solutions have to become embedded from being integrated," says Khanna. What does it mean? Theoretically, any two systems can be integrated, they can talk to each other and there will be some outcome. But in reality this does not work. There are integration issues. Embedding involves having everything within the system.

"By implementing cloud technology, we have been able to provide employees access to all information through one platform, enabling them to work from anywhere at any time. It has played the role of an enabler in our transformation journey. It is not just taking an existing application and porting it out of the cloud but rebuilding many applications to being cloud-first applications," says  Sunil Kanchi, CIO, UST Global.

The fifth shift is from artificial intelligence to adaptive intelligence. Just like in an iPhone, which has Siri in-built in it, the phone tends to look at the accent and sentence formation to adapt to these things. Similarly, new age HCM systems not only track patterns that are emerging in an organisation proactively, but also adapts to it. If it sees that an employee takes one-week off every month for two-three months, it will observe the pattern and stop bothering the manager with this thing.

The sixth shift is from user friendly UI to no UI. Earlier, we used to talk about how our screens are good-looking and easy to navigate. Today, we have the capability to tell Siri or Alexa, to mark our attendance or leave and to transfer the task to somebody, so on and so forth. So, this is really making the work human, as now you are working with machines in a very human way, conversing with them in a natural language.

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