What is Digital HR all about? Its not just the systems that we use to manage information around employees and to deliver the different types of services (be it learning, performance management or career planning), but it’s really about the intersection of technology and people in organisations, and having a focus on a broader frame of reference around this connection.

Here are some of the key trends we're seeing:

Apps are king; mobile-first

Realistically if we look at what we do in our daily lives, we don’t really like logging into systems anymore to get the information we need. Those databases and systems are moving into the background and that has got to happen in organisations too. That layer of interaction and engagement between people and technology has to be around apps and be driven from mobile devices first, and other modes such as desktops secondly.

Cloud-based systems move to the background

We need to be framing our thinking and decisions around the mobile first mindset, as we’re continuing to move systems (whether they’re cloud based systems or traditional client server on premise style solutions), into the background. It’s really important to have those systems doing their thing but it’s actually how to get interactions with those systems, and do it with ease.

Ease of use – Buy vs Build

We have to build interfaces that are much more like Facebook or Whatsapp, the prevailing solutions that people use in their personal lives. Increasingly we are going to see a buy vs build discussion coming back in. And this started because the appetite in organisations for particular and differentiated ways to leverage technology is taking us away from the off the shelf models and the one size fits all mindset that perhaps the SAS solutions dictated.

These last 3 points are really critical in terms of how you prepare yourself to become a truly digital HR function:

Need for enterprise architecture and roadmap

We can’t overlook our friends in IT and the need for a true enterprise architecture framework into which we can plug in these different apps and solutions and have them support and be accessible where they need to be. This is really where IT has to move into being the facilitators and enablers. We have to partner up with IT stakeholders and the business itself, to develop a roadmap of how we are going to adapt technology in the future. This is something we spend a lot of time helping our clients to frame.

Choose your providers wisely

It is also critically important to choose your providers wisely. There are a lot of vendors in the HR technology space, it is massively invested in, there is a lot of venture capital money going in and there are some vendors that aren’t keeping up. But there are also some vendors that are paving the way. It’s really important to choose suppliers that can move with the times, innovate at the right pace and are willing to form partnerships with their customers as well. We cannot stress enough how important it is to make great judgements not just of the solutions of the technology, but of the vendor itself.

Programs not Projects

No longer are we setting up a HR systems project that’s a one off activity with a kick off at the start and a go live at the finish which leads to 5 -10 years of pain before we can upgrade or move to another technology. We’ve got to be moving away from that paradigm to more agile modes of implementation, into a truly programmised model that is about continuous improvement and is about continuous adoption solutions as they come along. It’s about being comfortable living in a world of perpetual beta where you will try some things, some will work, some will not but you’ve got the ability to adapt and flick the switch off and on and quickly adjust to the times. That’s the core of what we talk about when we consider Digital HR, it’s exciting and it’s a very important time to be in HR.

We are technologists

As HR people, we can no longer be luddites, when it comes to technology. We are technologists. We have to be able to understand how technology allows us to deliver the service and how it enables people in our organisation to support the business effectively. We’ve got to be leaders in that. We can’t just let others take the lead in technology. It’s really important that we understand the business challenges and the outcomes of those. We constantly get asked how HR can be seen at the table. It’s really simple. Understand the broader business challenges and think about how you can align people and technology to support those outcomes. If you can keep that single frame of reference, then we will all do a lot better.

We’re keen for organisations to get away from this notion of adopting best practice. What we’re challenging you with is to focus on what differentiates. To think about the scenarios or the idiosyncratic things in the organisation, that are differentiators. Not idiosyncratic because they’re poor practice of poor ways of doing things. Seek to understand what it is that makes you special, what’s the special sauce or DNA that makes your organisation what it is? And build solutions around those points of differentiation. Don’t just adopt the most common practice which is what best practice means. Don’t take the vendors lead on just adopting modules of software, because that’s their language. Focus on the process, focus on the value stream and the value chain that supports the business challenge or outcome. Seek to adopt technology to address that process level, not at a module by module basis.

Don’t dwell on what is the best way to do things. Don’t seek perfection. Look for some problems to fix today and get stuck into it. It’s an exciting time.