Digital data in human resources? Unpicking the contradiction for the future

22 January 2019 | 401 Shares

Despite, by definition, being the most human-centric of all areas of the modern business, HR’s deployment of technology– either on its own or as part of a broader digital transformation– is having amazing results.

Even at a basic level, outside the internal HR function in an organization, the employment agency’s work is now subject to technological disruption.

Where before specialists would have to comb manually through paper resumes to source new personnel, companies now have access to the same digital tools as the specialist– databases of prospects, online services and social media like LinkedIn.

So where now for HR regarding technology? There are several trends emerging in the sector. This article highlights some of these trends and will go on to look at three suppliers of HR-specific software & services.

Blockchain

Already well-known as the underpinning technology stack behind cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, blockchain’s power and proficiency is already making an impact in several areas of business.

However, it should be noted that at this early stage in the tech’s development, there’s no ‘killer’ ubiquitous application for blockchain that’s sweeping the board and entering into everyday use or vernacular. Perhaps HR is the new growth area for blockchain?

The technology’s major selling points are its immutability and its distributed (and therefore trustworthy) nature. At present, blockchain is being deployed highly effectively in supply chains for often-TAINTED products, such as high-end fashion and pharmaceuticals.

Blockchain’s distribution among ‘nodes’ that replicate and verify transactions may be invaluable in combating CV fraud, in the coming years. Every HR professional is aware that many resumes are variations on truth levels. Blockchain could facilitate the sharing of employee details— including experience, training undertaken, even salary records— among employee consortiums.

With dubious claims quickly verifiable, potential employees will be incentivized to up-skill, train and set themselves apart from the herd in quantifiable, empirical ways that will benefit future employers.

Successful applicants could also be managed on a blockchain, meaning that criteria of acceptance of a new role can be verified: notice periods, the signing of non-disclosure agreements and contractually-binding necessities to train can all be open, transparent, and set in digital stone.

HR Analytics

A survey on HR software conducted by the Fosway Group recently uncovered some attention-grabbing statistics. Of the 5000+ HR professionals surveyed, just 50 percent considered themselves either satisfied or very satisfied with their HR solution’s analysis capabilities. That’s compared to the business’s satisfaction levels in payroll management and learning and development activities handling – around 70 percent.

The business driver for wanting to change HR solution provider was ease of use, termed the ‘end-user experience’. What’s clear, therefore, is that many HR systems are cumbersome to use, and don’t provide the necessary insight into HR activities. Both of these two negatives are anathema to digital transformation: platforms that are challenging to interact with don’t get used, and platforms that don’t produce impactful analysis are positively contributing to the business.

The next generation of HR suppliers, therefore, need to make changes. Analysis, in particular, is the best way to move the HR function from adjunct of an organization to a strategic player at board level.

Robotics

The meaning of this subheading is not the prediction that human resources will soon be run by cyborg armies. Instead, the term ‘robot’ is used as a catchall term to cover chatbots and virtual assistants used for HR purposes.

The changes brought about by BYOD (bring your own device) in the enterprise have revolutionized the way humans work. An increasing number of daily interactions in civilian and working life is done online, typically on a smartphone, and increasingly, via voice-activated assistants.

The market-leaders in HR systems are realizing this, and equipping both HR staff and the workforce more broadly with the type of technology that mimics other services. Calling in sick, or (for HR staff) seeing attendance records for the whole business is increasingly being managed by app or voice.

And intelligent bots or assistants can also access staff calendars, re-arrange schedules, compensate for gaps in the rota caused by holiday leave, and much more. These types of functions are the obvious evolution of simple shared calendars and chat platforms that changed working life just a few years ago.

Here at TechHQ, we’d like to highlight the following three suppliers at the forefront of HR solutions that offer ways the HR function can improve its offering, transform digitally and develop a more strategic role in any business.

SD WORX

SD Worx’s credo is to make HR services essential in the success of companies and individuals. The company uses technology with its users in mind, so the software’s power and usability really make positive differences to efficiencies, lowered costs and a generally more pleasant working environment— the latter often missing in many business function management systems.

There’s a self-service app for employees and departmental staff in HR, and the power of the platform is cloud-based, so it’s always on and always available.

The packages are, unlike some SaaS offerings, modular, so organizations don’t have to buy into (yet not actually use) the functions they don’t need, though the scalability of the system means new functionality can be switched on at will. SD Worx’s multilingual offerings make it ideal for deployments right across the globe: English, German, French and Dutch localizations mean that businesses right across North America, Europe and the rest of the world are covered.

The platform’s attractiveness belies its power, with HR departments able to run even the most complex of inter-related processes like onboarding, benefits management, payments-in-kind and time-sheeting as quickly as a few taps onscreen or clicks of a mouse.

SD Worx focuses strongly on data- driven HR: insights in HR data make the role of professionals more strategic and their lives increasingly easy, freeing up time to work on implementing changes.

To read more about SD Worx, click here to read an interview with SD Worx’s CEO Steven Van Hoorebeke, as well as lots more information.

ADP

The availability of round-the-clock support backs ADP’s offering; both for its software, but also for the HR Department’s general (or detailed) inquiries. Both employees and HR managers get access to a whole suite of self-service functions, either via the web or from the company’s dedicated mobile app.

Integration with most common business software platforms is straightforward, including those covering Finance, time tracking and management, ERPs and any other services still in place. In this way, companies with a significant investment in legacy solutions are not forced to tear down and build again – ADP’s platform slots alongside as a value-bringer, rather than an alternative.

ADP’s solutions can handle shift work, hourly work, exempt worker schedules, and even project-based or freelance working patterns.

The company’s specialism is in US compliance and tax, with a host of built-in regulatory frameworks and routines, so finance & HR functions in the US will be ready to go.

As well as solutions designed to reduce grievances and distribute overtime equitably (although employees can review and sign off on the accuracy of their time sheets), there’s also a full suite of onboarding solutions. New employees or those changing positions get a consumer-esque on-boarding experience via an app.

There’s also performance monitoring, skills development & training management routines, plus a range of compensation and benefit management options – with flexible packages now a ‘given’ for a new generation of workers used to the flexibility of the gig economy.

NGA HR

This British company currently boasts over 30 offices across Europe and North America, offering a range of consultancy and outsourcing services, along with HR and time management software. For any organization that’s embedded itself into an SAP software suite, NGA may be the partner to seek out if the intention is to stick with the German ERP.

NGA’s cleaHRsky is powered by SAP SuccessFactors, for instance, and many of NGA’s other HR apps are built on the SAP Cloud Platform and are available in the SAP App Center.

Among the company’s offerings are NGA Rewards Central, which lets employees get an integrated overview of salary, rewards, and entitlements to benefits, payments in kind, expenses and the like. And for the larger HR department in a medium or more significant enterprise, the company has software that can help streamline HR processes such as ticketing systems. This latter function is, of course, a two-way collaborative platform, where affected employees can see the progress of their issue with the HR Department.

Conversely, the same application lets HR staff track their workload, tickets issued to them for resolution, and the department’s overall progress.

The company claims to be the first to offer HR-as-a-service, and allows advanced functionality like the integration of its solutions via two-way APIs into other enterprise software, but – and this is key in the context of an HR platform – keeping the management of HR data integrated into the enterprise’s data lake firmly in the HR function.

That means the HR department’s reliance on IT is lessened, which increases HR efficiency and speed of action, plus lowers overheads significantly for NGA’s customers.

*Some of the companies featured in this article are commercial partners of TechHQ