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HR Tech + Vegas = VR and AI – Oh My!

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HR Tech + Vegas = VR and AI – Oh My!

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We had an amazing time in Las Vegas, Nevada for the 2018 HR Tech Conference. Bright lights, great music, roulette wheel spinning and smiling people everywhere I went.

All this and I didn’t even leave the HR Tech conference hall! For those who don’t know, HR Tech is one of the biggest HR conferences each year. Blue Marble exhibits there each year, and I get the chance to attend, network, and learn. I wanted to share my 4 biggest takeaways from HR Tech, and some observations on what the future of the HR profession holds.

Artificial Intelligence– The next big thing in HR is Artificial Intelligence (AI). As I walked around, I couldn’t help but notice the number of companies rolling out new AI functions. Whether it is used to calculate data for better hiring decisions, using facial recognition for clocking in and out, or helping inform HR managers on how to create more employee engagement, most companies are either offering analytics via AI, or some form of computing via AI.

After talking with several vendors and HR professionals at the conference, I came to understand how AI is being leveraged as a game changer for them. Through software enhancements, AI is producing better analytics on data and helping organizations make better choices.

Example put to practice: one HR Director told me that through the advancement of AI in their systems, they can now get data per department an average salary amount across the board. With this new information, they are able to cross-reference with the industry standard, and have been able to offer competitive pay to top talent within the organization to keep employees happy. In return, they have seen the average tenure of employees grow from 2 years to well over 5 years. The system has only been rolled out over the last 6 years, so future tenure has a chance to increase. They have also leveraged the data to land top external talent – knowing their employment data and the employment market through data analytics. Talk about the X-factor! Retention and hiring qualified talent are two keys areas of any organization. This has me asking; how does your company leverage AI and data analytics to make game-changing decisions?

Virtual Reality (VR):
Ok, I will be the first to admit VR or “Augmented Reality” trips me out. But, it also offers excitement for what the future holds. It reminds me of my youth and my love of movies like Tron, The Matrix, and of course Total Recall. Ok, now that I have dated myself and acknowledging we are definitely years away from these types of VR experiences, let’s discuss how VR is playing a big role in the HR world. Imagine candidates having the opportunity to do, “A day in the life” of a job, experiencing the company, the day-to-day tasks of the job before accepting the position. Asking questions about work load, do they like the culture, they can experience it all through VR. How about using VR for training? NASA, the Airforce, and many other highly skilled professions are using VR to stimulate highly stressful situations with favorable results. I understand not all of us are astronauts or F18 fighter pilots, but what if we can use it to prepare for speeches in front of a crowd? Or for engineering teams to experience a product the way a client would?

VR can be used to train teams on selling to prospects or handling a tough client in customer service. Successful training is putting your people in real-world experiences and having them learn, not through theory but in real practice. VR gives teams the ability to re-create experiences to put into practice. Teams will be equipped to handle real scenarios when the time comes. I believe the possibilities of VR technology in HR are multiple and almost endless. But I have narrowed down three specific areas I see it impacting HR the most in the next 2 – 3 years.

  1. Onboarding
  2. Recruitment
  3. Development – Learning/Ongoing training

Industry Consolidation –The HR industry has been doing a lot of consolidating in the last year, including these notable changes:

  • Ultimate – purchased PeopleDoc
  • Workday – acquired Adaptive Insights
  • Glassdoor – acquired Indeed

What does this mean? First, there are small companies making a huge impact on innovation in the HR space. These starts-ups and small software companies are disrupting the HR space, changing the way teams and their workflows are being managed. It is happening at such a fast rate big companies can’t develop to keep up, so they acquire. This is great for HR teams, that finally the technology is catching up to the needs of the profession. As more companies look to expand globally, the technology and workflow improvements will be the keys to success.

The second takeaway of the industry consolidation is more good news – with more consolidation comes more opportunity! Wayne Gretzky once stated, ” I don’t skate to where the puck is, but skate to where it will be! That’s how you score.” Translation: the more consolidation that happens, the more technology talent will come into the HR space. People who innovate see trends, build off these trends, and create. So, when a market is consolidating, what ends up happening is more advancements. When innovators see any industry ripe for disruption and big paydays, they attack. HR teams are on the brink of experiencing what computer professionals call “Moore’s Law”- the doubling of computer processing speed every 18 months – but for HR technology. Which means that CHRO’s will be training teams from Mars by 2025 – hang on!

Emphasis on Integration– Last but not least, integration. I have said since the introduction of Apple TV, Amazon Prime, Netflix, Android, apps, etc., that people no longer care if everything is through one company or one platform. I don’t think the HR world is 100% there yet, but soon! Open API’s are changing the ways companies make buying decisions. It is opening up new opportunities for teams to buy the best of the best, and then integrate. I have never been a believer that one company can do all things, and at a certain point a company gets to the point of diminishing returns. Why build an ATS platform when we are strong in payroll? Why have an average HRIS platform, when as a payroll company we can partner with a great one? For me, I want to work with a specialist in each profession. I ask myself who does what great and can we integrate? I have also learned from clients that finding the best partner for each aspect of business gives them an advantage. Yes – there are different systems involved, but some of my happiest clients have left the “all-in-one” system to a multiple platform approach with 2-3 strong systems that work well and integrate with each other. This approach is usually the less expensive option for clients as well, since the so-called “all-in-one” systems usually require acquisitions to create product offerings, so more products (and shareholder profits) mean higher ROI and higher pricing for the end user.

In conclusion, HRTech is great experience each year to see the advancements in the industry. I highly recommend anyone in the HR profession should experience it.

Blue Marble Global Payroll


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