Strategically, HR is an all encompassing infantry unit catering to every productivity goal of the company. From sourcing, selecting, negotiating, hiring, training, retaining and paying the onboarded talent, the job of HR is in fact as vital as the year-end’s profitability. But HR tech hasn’t always been in the limelight and it is why the industry only started making some headway around about the 1990’s.
But as far as tech adoption goes, the HR load is light if it was a 2 to 5-men enterprise but when a corporation employs 30, 50, 100, 500 and employees numbered into the thousands, it calls for a comprehensive solution to store and process staff records as well as generating everything from a payslip to statutory reports.
Further, companies that opt to process HR matters in-house should also be mindful if the hired HR team is well versed enough to execute according to the domestic legislations. Falling short in this area may attract unwanted consequences such as fines from the government departments. As such, practising HR and adopting HR tech to supplement the tasks at hand requires depth and experience to do the job well.
Evolution of HR Tech
A quick look at how far technology has come to support the HR practice will inform us that perhaps now is the time to really look at what technology can offer to our workplace.
- 1979 – the launch of SAP R/2, integrating HR functionality together in the same ERP database with production planning, materials management and financials; not a standalone module.
- 1987 – establishment of Peoplesoft, the first HR Management System (HRMS) in the world.
- Early 1990s – The HRMS market emerging with ERP vendors like Oracle and JD Edwards introducing HR ERPs covering all functions like core HR, recruiting, learning, US payroll, and reporting. Smaller ERP vendors followed suit globally with customisation for specific markets.
- 1994 – Monster launched the first-ever online recruitment website.
- Rest of 1990s – moving from client-server technology to the web and opened up HRMS to users outside of HR (or HRMS employee self-service) where HR systems became more specialised eg. recruitment-only.
- 2000 – 15% of organisations have adopted employee self-service HR technology with early adopters like Pfizer, Dell and Hewlett-Packard.
- 2003 – LinkedIn is founded, the first professional social media site.
- 2005 – 50% of organisations have adopted employee self-service HR technology.
- 2015 – 90% of organisations have adopted employee self-service HR technology.
- 2018 – 85% of job applications were made via job boards.
- 2019 – 92% of HR leaders believe the future of providing excellent employee service has to include chatbots.
Source: hrmsworld.com, ubisend.com, www.statista.com
With HR Tech going through rapid adoption especially in the last decade, it beckons for those in the practice to sit up and listen because the time is now ripe. By that it means Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has just entered the fray and if one is not paying attention to this development, competitors may surge ahead leaving conventional teams myopic with merely processing macros in a spreadsheet like it was 1999.
This is inline with a Forbes article published in September this year which mentioned that “as HR technology becomes increasingly integrated, I predict companies will look for more automation capabilities, and those who succeed in creating technology for this sector will find ways to create efficiencies for HR professionals through automating workloads while also improving the employee experience.”
Robotic Process Automation (RPA), HR's Turbo Boost
Automation or RPA is in fact the new kid on the HR-block. What it can do while the HR Manager is cosying up to dinner and the World Cup fever after hours will quite literally blow one’s mind away.
Take for example payroll processing, RPA, when programmed to its intended scope, will perform like the payroll processing department in the office without the need of any human supervision and much less human labour.
From matching names, tallying salaries, calculating claims, emailing designated “managers” to verify pay raises, reading responded emails and finally executing the “pay” command, all these can be done with zero human intervention.
Although this may sound far-fetched just 20 years ago, it is not entirely so in 2022 because even instant messengers of the chatbots have made their presence felt in this era. Case in point, the implementation of an AI-driven chatbot in a particular company has reduced inbound HR enquiry emails by 43% from about 100 emails per week, offloading the unproductive menial work of answering leave balance, procedure to submit claims etc from the HR officers (Director, VP, Managers etc) that serves 100,000 employees across 75 countries (source: ubisend.com).
Not to be mistaken, by removing the “human” element from the HR process is in no way negating the HR professionals from their responsibilities but instead, liberating and empowering them to be even more autonomous and strategic in carrying out HR practices.
With more time in hand, HR practitioners can focus on formulating dynamic strategies so corporate goals like annual targets and quarterly performance can all be levelled up. To that end and according to achievers.com, “Recognition, Health & Wellness, Learning and Development – these are a few of the emerging areas of HR technology that have become crucial to engaging and retaining top talent”. When these are technologically-enabled, it will extend yet another dimension to the equation – data.
HR's Big Data In The Making
Employers armed with such data possess a high level of knowledge about the performance of the company because the metrics provided from here will go on to prompt about the next steps eg. how to re-engage before a top performer exits for another opportunity. Retention hence becomes an area that was once run by interaction and intuition but now substantiated through data analytics. The same Forbes article mentioned earlier also concurs to such an all encompassing expansion of the HR Tech industry where it suggests the next phase of this space would require “analytics, AI, integration with a suite of HRIS and HRM solutions and an employee-first mindset—the keys to truly complete workforce management.”
Where will HR Tech go from here? According to peoplemattersglobal.com, “the best platforms are about modernising the employee experience. Even small companies use HR software now to up their employee experience strategy, and price is no deterrent (given the heavy competition in the market). HR software will easily be a $43 billion industry by 2026.”
If you haven’t already, now is the time for your HR department to up their game and play ball!