3. What Area of HR Technology Is Most Likely to Have the Most Immediate and Measurable Impact on, or in, the Quantified Organization?


Stacey Harris: Mobile, Trackable, Wearable — The Next Turn in HR Technology

The next generation of technology that can meet HR’s data demands will be delivery mechanisms that let HR access data faster and gather it in ways we’ve never been able to gather it before.

HR will stream data from environmental sensors, GPS trackers, trackable clothing, RFID (radio-frequency identification) sensors, and other devices. The result will be new insight into performance and management — for organizations that are prepared to use the technology.

RFID Defined

RFID (radio-frequency identification) is the use of radio waves to read and capture information stored on a tag attached to an object. A tag can be read from up to several feet away and does not need to be within the direct line of sight of the reader to be tracked.


An estimated 7 percent of businesses are already using trackable and wearable devices for either geography-related needs (e.g., UPS using GPS devices to track trucks) or for wellness programs (e.g., wearable devices to record physical activity).

Of course, the technology isn’t there yet for the types of metrics the quantified HR organization would need. But it starts by gathering what data you can, and maybe you’ll get metrics that show a trend in performance or activity where HR could have an impact.

Steve Boese: Better Assessments (the Old) and Smart Technology (the New) for HR Tomorrow

HR can count on assessment solutions to continue to improve at predictive modeling. At the same time, the modern age of smart technology will gradually and then increasingly find its way into HR technology.

HR will be quantifying how people spend their time in a much more specific and detailed way than ever before. Performance management will look at who someone is meeting with, how much time they’re spending looking at email, visiting websites, writing documents using Word, and more.

And it won’t be only while they’re online at work or using the company’s software. Personal time will be tracked, too. The goal of all it: Determine how to become more efficient and effective.

An Example

Imagine applying sophisticated tracking to the sales process. You’d get data on how much time is spent one on one with prospects, how much time is spent on the phone or in group meetings, what they did — and what they accomplished — after meetings, and how long it took to get back into their work and regain their focus.

What if you could use wearable biometrics to assess how a person’s heart rate and blood pressure changed under different working conditions, in meetings, or with different types of clients?

The answer is that you wouldn’t need to learn anecdotally and after the fact why some situations produce better results than others — and you could be more proactive in recommending processes and procedures to ensure success.

An Example — Learning About Behavior the Old-fashioned Way

One call center had its people take breaks on a staggered scheduled so they could continuously keep the phones manned. Then, for a change, they let everyone take a break at the same time. What they found later was that more calls were handled with faster resolution when they let more people take breaks at the same time.

Why? When they looked into it, the HR folks learned the customer service representatives used their breaks to talk about the calls they’d gotten and how they had dealt with them. The call center workers had essentially turned their breaks into what we call “informal learning situations.”

Robin Schooling: It’s All About Retention and “Re-recruitment”

The most immediate next important evolution for HR technology will be software that gathers and collects data that can help boost employee retention, and it’s coming none too soon. This may be the year we suffer the double hit when boomers finally retire after the economic downturn and disengaged employees finally exit as the economy continues to at least stabilize.

HR technology that offers predictive modeling can allow HR leaders to get ahead of the game. Think about technology that can track patterns and trends related to work conditions that may lead to turnover — or that may improve employee retention.

Today’s HR Case Management: Data to Aid Employee Retention

HR case management provides software that tracks issues around employee relations — anything that contributes to satisfaction, productivity, motivation, and morale.

We often think of this as preventing or resolving problems, and historically HR tracked that sort of information to identify patterns to answer questions like, “Why do the highest amount of harassment claims come from Department X?”

Today we can use this data in a much more immediate manner — we can see what is happening right now, where in the organization it’s happening, and what action can be taken to remedy the situation now — not later.

The big picture here is that the traditional recruitment model will be turned on its head because the folks responsible for talent acquisition will finally gain complete access to the organization’s internal applicants — current employees — in a way that they’re often locked out of today. Looking at it another way, HR and recruiting will gradually merge, at least where data is concerned.

By creating open access to platforms and data across the HR and talent function — HRIS, LMS, performance management systems, succession planning systems, etc. — recruiters will be more able to “re-recruit” existing employees. Companies have more highly engaged employees and tremendously reduce hiring costs.

Paul Hebert: Wait! Let’s Get HR Back Into the People Business.

Everything in HR is about technology today. All of the funding for HR startups is to develop better ways to gather data and present it to the HR folks. Why? That didn’t happen because HR had defined problems that it knew it could solve with more or better data. It happened because HR wanted to be more like finance.

The folks in finance have formulas, charts, and ratios. They say, ”I can prove this,” and they show the numbers that prove their case.

No one’s going to get fired if they say, “I can prove this with data.”

But HR continues to chase data at the expense of training managers to be better managers. We’re stuck in analytics. We need to stop and ask: When does it make sense to invest in people instead of technology.

So, what can HR do to work with technology and people?

Lance Haun: Learning — Where HR Technology Will Hopefully Make a Difference Sooner Rather Than Later

The potential for HR and its data to have a positive impact on the entire talent-management stack is there. In fact, you could make a compelling argument that HR data has the potential to have an impact throughout the organization.

But one particular area in which HR datafication will hopefully make a huge impact is learning.

Stated simply, most organizations don’t know their own people.

Individual managers may know their people. Co-workers may know who’s good at a particular task. But there’s very little organizational knowledge. And that’s a problem.

Even among longtime employees, people who may have taken courses in a learning management system (LMS), there could be issues. Research from The Starr Conspiracy Intelligence Unit shows, for example, that most large organizations have more than one LMS and they often have poor integration among their other HCM systems.

Here are three ways better learning technology could help drive forward the quantified organization:

The skills gap isn’t going to disappear tomorrow, and the need for a strong learning and development function in a company is as strong as ever. A better holistic understanding of the learning function is only going to help a quantified organization come into its own.