HRE Online: Top 10 Tech Experts
June 07, 2012
In case you haven’t been paying attention, these are very interesting times in the world of HR technology. Two major, innovative vendors —SuccessFactors and Taleo— were recently gobbled up by much-larger ERP providers (SAP and Oracle, respectively). Social-networking and mobile applications continue to change not just the way many HR departments do business, but the very look and feel of the applications they use. Cloud computing and Software-as- a-Service are on the path to render obsolete the old model of on-premise software, with its expensive and time- consuming upgrades.
Amid this backdrop of change, we here at HRE felt it was time to recognize the people who typically stand out for the guidance they provide to thousands of companies with money to spend on technology, but little preparation or strategic planning under way. Inevitably, these are the people who often end up getting a call from harried HR leaders when projects blow past budgets and deadlines, things don’t work as they should or—in some cases—at all, and line managers and vice presidents voice disgruntlement and dissatisfaction with the new HR “solutions” that, it turns out, do nothing but complicate their lives.
In selecting the “Most Powerful HR Technology Experts,” we surveyed the field for those individuals who have demonstrated outstanding thought leadership and are having the greatest impact on organizations today. It wasn’t easy, given that dozens and dozens of highly respected people work in this field. But ultimately, we believe the people featured in the following pages represent the crème de la crème of HR technologists.
In writing their profiles, we asked each expert the following questions: What should HR leaders be thinking about now (with respect to technology)? What are the biggest mistakes you’ve seen in HR technology implementations? What are the most overhyped HR tech trends and what sorts of developments would you most like to see occur in this space? In responding to our questions, these experts tended not to mince words.
Relying on technology to compensate for outmoded HR processes was a common “implementation mistake” many said they’ve witnessed. Perhaps unsurprisingly, mobile and social- networking applications were often cited as among the “most overhyped trends,” but plenty of others were as well, including “fear”—as in, irrational fear of vendor consolidation where none is warranted, according to Jason Averbook.
We couldn’t fit everything they had to say in our print edition, so go to HREOnline.com to read a fuller account of their thoughts on these developments, as well as extended bios of each expert and links to their organizations’ websites.
Jason Averbook, CEO and co-founder of Knowledge Infusion, Minneapolis
As CEO, Averbook works closely with clients as the executive lead on strategic consulting engagements. Prior to co-founding Knowledge Infusion, Averbook held senior-management positions at PeopleSoft and Ceridian.
What should HR leaders be thinking about right now?
They need to understand how the HR-service-delivery model has to change, because the workforce is completely different than before in terms of how they like to use and consume technology. They should realize that the days of IT owning technology are over—IT can provide support, but HR must own human capital management technology now. And they need to be focusing on breaking down the walls within the HR organization. At a lot of companies, HR has done a better job of integrating itself with the finance function than it has of integrating the HR function within itself. If I was an HR leader, I’d be breaking down those internal silos, building processes that go across the functions within HR and making sure my HR technology matches that.
Most overhyped trends?
Mobile is one of the most overhyped because, even though it makes it easier to put technology in the hands of more people, the HR functions aren’t changing to actually take advantage of this new technology. Social is also overhyped—not the concept of social, but the fear of what people are going to post is overhyped. People felt the same way when email was introduced. Another thing that’s overhyped is the fear of consolidation. We tend to overreact and end up making stupid decisions to switch vendors when it isn’t necessary.
What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve seen in HR technology implementations?
Lifting and shifting. If all you’re doing is digitizing old processes, then you’re not adding value. Another mistake I see is going live on a new product without highlighting its capabilities to the end-users. Don’t just let people do the same thing they could do on the old platform; give them access to the cool new features that add value.
What sorts of developments would you most like to see occur in the space?
We in HR think buying new technology or going with the best vendor in the world is going to change the HR function, to make us strategic. It has nothing to do with technology. I’d love to see the HR function realize it’s our job to figure out how best to use this technology, rather than counting on the vendor to change the way HR’s perceived.