Human Resource (HR) today is not the same as HR back in the 1990s or even 2000s. Gone are the days where business looks at HR as only a processing department for payroll, claim, leave, etc. Today, HR plays a strategic role in planning workforce for business needs, preparing an organization for the future of work, and positioning the organization as an employer of choice.
As such, the term HR transformation has rung in our ears for the past few years. And technology plays a significant role to enable HR to transform. The way I look at HR technology from an HR perspective is categorized into two groups. The first group of technology focuses on making HR more efficient and the second group is opening up new opportunities for HR that was not possible before. I believe the latter is the one that will give us a competitive edge. I will describe further on each of the groups.
Employees go through several stages during their life cycle in a company, and there are many HR processes and transactions at each step, starting from talent acquisition, development, up to employee exiting the company. In order for HR to be more efficient, there are two core drivers that we need to keep in mind. The first is the push for more self-service. There are a lot of transactions, such as employment letter, change of personal data, initiate employee transfer for example that should go toward self-service. Most of HR master data platforms that are available in the market, such as Success factors and Workday have provided such features, and they are making more transactions available for end users to execute.
The other driver is the push to automate as many operational works as possible that are performed manually by HR. Once processes are standardized, the operational work can be automated. We might not be able to move away from manual operation, such as data validation for employee details. However, we can aim to automate 80% of all HR processes following 80/20 rule. For this purpose, we have quite a number of automation solutions available in the market. The new trend is Robotic Process Automation (RPA) where it can simulate a virtual person doing all the standardized manual work and performing it over and over again and I think HR should leverage on this.
"HR transformation is here to stay, and HR technology will keep evolving and enabling HR to open up new possibilities"
Looking into the second group of technology, the first thing that comes to mind is data and analytics. With the digitalization of HR, which occurs along with HR transformation, we collect more data than it was before. And the trend will go even further with the introduction of more digital platforms. As Clive Humby, UK mathematician said that data is the new oil, we are now sitting on a pile of gold with more data collected, and yet it is a pity not to leverage it. With the availability of dashboarding platforms, such as Tableau and Qlik, you can start with descriptive analysis, to look into what has happened and why it happened that way. Of course, I would urge organization to move past that and go for predictive and prescriptive analysis, leveraging on R or Python, where HR Analytics can work as a center of expertise that provides advice to HR leaders and business on how to achieve certain business outcome, such as where we should set up our next factory and how we can drive more sales.
There are also new opportunities with data and analytics in the HR domain, such as organizational network analysis (ONA), where you can understand better how communication flows within your organization. This information can be very beneficial for change management, engagement analysis, identifying potential burnout, and even for succession planning.
Another exciting technology that belongs to the second group is chatbot. Having a virtual assistant that is available 24x7 who can assist and advise you on those operational HR matters at your fingertips will give a significant boost for employee experience. We do see some organizations adopting chatbot technology in HR as a virtual assistant. To stretch it further, we should aim for transactional virtual assistant where it can help you to execute certain necessary transactions, such as applying for leave, approving claims, instead of stopping just at virtual assistant that can handle queries.
Extending employee experience further and to a certain extent talent attraction, I also see a lot of potential for personalization driven by data and analytics. We are accustomed as a customer to have all news feed on Facebook or ads in Google personalized for us. And this is where HR can make a difference by providing that personalization for employee be it in the field of on-boarding, workplace, wellness, up to the sacred place of compensation and benefits. We do see platforms available out there for flexible benefits, but it would be exciting yet revolutionary to see an organization that personalizes their compensation and a platform that can enable that.
To conclude, HR transformation is here to stay, and HR technology will keep evolving and enabling HR to open up new possibilities. I am looking forward to seeing more and more HR technology that can enable HR around the world to scale greater heights.