2017’s Sure Bet—HR Will Strengthen Its Digital Embrace

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The sweeping impact of digital technology has been a hot business topic throughout 2016. Digital is not only transforming the ways we work but also the ways we engage and manage talent—all of which carries major implications for HR.

Accenture and Bersin by Deloitte are two among dozens of authorities that have written on the subject:

  • In Digital Radically Disrupts HR, Accenture declared, “Digital technology is driving the decentralization of talent management as an HR activity—embedding it into the fabric of everyday business. It will fundamentally change HR as we know it.” As a result of this change, “HR will begin to behave more like marketing—analyzing employee data, creating customized talent offerings, and marketing and branding talent and HR processes.”
  • In The New Digital World Of Work: How HR Will Change In 2016, Josh Bersin noted that “the HR technology industry received more than $2 billion in investment capital in 2015 … fueling a growing ecosystem of new tools for recruitment, performance management, learning, wellness, feedback and employee engagement. All this technology will change the way we manage people, forcing HR to stay vigilant of new ways to get work done.”

Surely, some of these implications are daunting for HR. But, to its credit, the function has embraced digital.

Indeed, HR is already spending billions of dollars annually to digitally upgrade systems and tools, and these investments aren’t limited to deep-pocketed enterprises. Medium and small businesses with modest budgets are making digital HR upgrades as well (see The Best Human Resources Management Software of 2016 and Best HR Software for Small Business).

The good news: these investments are showing results. According to a Bersin blog post, companies with recently upgraded HRMS platforms are spending 22% less per employee on HR. The even better news: these savings are potentially just the tip of the iceberg, especially when it comes to talent. Smarter sourcing, more robust talent networks, improved people analytics, greater success in hiring and retaining the right talent—these are just a few of the benefits of digital HR.

Next Gen Now Gen HR

I was fortunate enough to work with three emerging talent companies this year—Candarine, Joberate and Swoop Talent—which gave me a firsthand view of digital HR’s intriguing future.

These innovative companies help employers, HR professionals and talent specialists all over the world better engage with targeted talent audiences (even individuals) and understand their unique behaviors and specialized interests. These capabilities are invaluable to organizations interested in winning new talent and retaining their best people.

Candarine helps companies leverage the digital realm—most specifically, social media and inbound marketing—as affordable and sustainable accompaniments to in-house recruiting initiatives. One of the most impressive aspects of Candarine’s offering is its comprehensive audit of clients’ talent attraction efforts. The audit addresses an employer’s systems and operations, its online presence and properties, its candidate/applicant experience, and how it is perceived by targeted talent audiences. Candarine’s primary goal is to help clients shift their talent attraction processes from “push” (posting job ads, for example) to “pull” (using inbound recruitment and content marketing techniques) to draw relevant talent to them and nurture this talent over time.

Joberate’s focus is on helping employers better understand the job-seeking behaviors of the global workforce. Its revolutionary HR technology platform identifies job-seeking activities within a person’s publicly available online metadata—i.e., whether the individual is searching specific job boards, updating online profiles, visiting recruitment websites, etc. The Joberate platform gathers and translates all of these data points into an analytic called J-Score®, which represents that individual’s job-seeking activity level at any given point in time. Armed with a J-Score®, an employer can act far more strategically regarding its talent—reaching out to candidates when their job-seeking activities spike, for example, or taking quick action to retain high-value employees when they begin looking at external prospects. These are just a couple of examples of the evidence-based recruiting and talent engagement decisions Joberate enables.

SwoopTalent has also built a robust new platform that helps enterprise organizations find talent more effectively. SwoopTalent aggregates talent data from virtually any and every source, online and offline—ATSs, CRMs, recruiting websites, social media, even paper documents. SwoopTalent puts all of a company’s talent data into a single repository and updates the data by searching literally thousands of sites and online touch points. This ensures clients have the latest, most comprehensive information on an individual. SwoopTalent’s platform revitalizes a company’s talent data, eliminates data silos and helps employers strengthen their talent pipelines without data loss.

These companies and others like them are ushering in an exciting new era of sourcing, attracting and managing talent. Of course, talent isn’t the only area addressed by digital HR and, equally important, digital technology certainly won’t solve HR’s challenges on its own. Human Resources and talent professionals need to develop the strategic thinking and skill sets necessary to understand all of this budding technology and put it to use wisely.

Still, digital is crucial to HR’s ongoing transformation into a strategic business function, one that can partner successfully with other functions and serve the organization at large by delivering measurable contributions to overall innovation, efficiency and process improvement.

Needless to say, 2017 is going to be an interesting year for HR and its digital solution providers.

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