HR Needs to Adopt New Technologies Faster

by | Sep 28, 2016 | Talent | 0 comments

Kevin BigHR Needs to Adopt New Technologies Faster

Kevin Wheeler

Keynote speaker, Futurist, Writer, Advisor


There are lots of new approaches to traditional HR problems and issues, but few HR functions are actively embracing or even really investigating their use. HR leaders may be concerned about the legal implications of some of these practices, and the law is unclear about many of them.  Some HR leaders are cautious by nature and prefer the tried and true methods over anything different.

However as companies shrink in size, are challenged by the market, find themselves disrupted by a startup, and otherwise come under  intense pressure to survive, human resources could be part of the solution given a more adventurous leadership and the willingness to streamline, try new approaches, and reinvent the function before it is replaced.


Most HR groups have a human resources information system (HRIS) that serves as a hub for collecting and storing essential employee data such as hire date, pay level, title, manager, and so on. Large organizations also have an applicant tracking system which is a hub for storing and screening candidate data and provides reports for legal compliance.

Not very many HR groups have a customer relationship management (CRM) tools which allows personalized communication with employees and provides a way for employees to get information, share concerns and learn about important deadlines and requirements. These  tools can also act as a center for distributing and analyzing a variety of employee surveys. Analytic tools can also do sentiment analysis on employee comments and communication to determine employee engagement or dissatisfaction. Internal social networks are often embedded within the CRM tool. There are many vendors offering excellent solutions.

Mobile has become the primary ways many employees access information and all HR tools and services should be mobile enabled and enhanced. Employees should find it equally easy to get what they need from their mobile phone, tablet or computer.

The 21st century HR function should be capable of providing management with information on the labor market including such things as the availability of needed skills, demographic trends, predictions on retirements and turnover along with plans for replacement or employee development. This means having a broad perspective on the talent marketplace externally as well as on talent internally. HR should be able to analyze and match existing employee skills to emerging needs and find those skills externally when they are not available internally.  Executives are asking for a better picture of the talent landscape than HR has been able to provide. But, by using the data collection tools now available along with analysis tools, HR could provide a view of the scarcity of a particular skill both inside and outside the firm, as well as a prediction on how long it might be to develop the needed skills.

Traditional performance management has been under fire for some time for two primary reasons. First, Millennials demand frequent performance feedback and are anxious to learn new skills quickly. As more of them enter the workplace the usual semiannual or annual feedback provided by traditional processes are not compatible with their demands or the fast-paced business climate. Secondly, experts now believe that performance is better monitored on a continuous basis, in real-time, by peers, customers, and management. By providing tools that allow feedback and commentary to individuals privately at any time, employees can be better informed about how they are perceived and can take steps to improve skills or change behavior accordingly. Employees can request feedback and they can receive feedback at any time from the community they have chosen. Firms such as KPMG, IBM, Adobe, and many others have moved to a continuous feedback process.

Millennials are also requesting more help in planning their future and are highly focused on acquiring a wide range of skills and experiences. Wise HR functions are providing employees with online portals, virtual coaches, and other tools that can guide and help them understand what skills are needed and how to get those skills. Rather than rely on somewhat outdated learning management systems (LMS) that push canned content, newer tools include access to portals of information, online learning through MOOCS, mobile search, and video. The emerging concept is to provide an ecosystem of tools that an employee can choose to both guide and provide content. Mobile, on-demand learning has become a normal activity with the growth of ubiquitous mobile phones and tablets and more available content.

Recruiting is the one function that has led, or had the ability to lead, the adoption of new methods and technologies. New applications roll out all the time. There are technologies for helping get and track referrals, for internal mobility, for candidate communication, for creating communities of candidates, for both passive and active assessment of candidates and for automating the onboarding experience. Other apps automatically match candidates to jobs by skills. Some allow recruiters to create chatbots that can automatically answer candidates’ questions and direct them to available positions.

Let’s hope that some adventurous HR leaders emerge, as Lazlo Bock did at Google, and begin to challenge the current systems and change them.


Follow me on Twitter @kwheeler. If you like this, you might like to read my other articles and visit for more ideas and white papers. Contact me at if you’d like to inquire about having me speak at an event or to your team or leadership.

Kevin Wheeler
Kevin Wheeler Founder and Chairman the Future of Talent Institute. Kevin started FOTI in 2004 out of his passionate belief that organizations need a more powerful and thoughtful architecture for talent than they have. After a 25 year career in corporate America serving as the Senior Vice President for Staffing and Workforce Development at the Charles Schwab Corporation, the Vice President of Human Resources for Alphatec Electronics, Inc. in Thailand, and in a variety of human resources roles at National Semiconductor Corporation, Kevin has firsthand knowledge of the need for better strategies and approaches to finding, developing and retaining people.

Today, Kevin is a globally known speaker, author, teacher and consultant in human capital acquisition and development, as well as in corporate education. He is the author of numerous articles on human resource development, career development, recruiting, and on establishing corporate universities. He is a frequent speaker at conferences. He writes a weekly Internet column on recruiting and staffing, which can be found at, and he and Eileen have written a book on corporate universities, The Corporate University Workbook: Launching the 21st Century Learning Organization. He serves as adjunct faculty at San Jose State University, the University of San Francisco and on the business faculty at San Francisco State University.

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