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Companies need to think about user experience as HR technology takes off

Bill Goodwin

The past 18 months have seen a boom in the number of companies investing in sophisticated HR technology.

Companies are replacing 10-year-old, on-premise HR systems, with cloud-based alternatives, said consultant Jason Averbook (pictured).

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“We are at a really cool time in HR technology where a lot of stuff is old, so people are making the switch,” he told Computer Weekly.

Averbook is chief business innovation officer at Appirio, a company which advises businesses on cloud technology.

Companies have learned from the mistakes of the past, and are now taking a smarter approach to HR technology, he said.

 “For me, over the past 12 months, what has been fascinating to watch, is that organisations are doing things in a smarter way, not making decisions in silos, and thinking cross functionally.”

As a result, companies are placing less emphasis on the "bells and whistles" of HR technology and more on technology that will help them bring their HR data together in a single company-wide software application.

“Now buyers are smarter and they seem to be buying in a more intelligent way. They have learned from the mistakes of the past,” said Averbook.

HR needs to be more user focused

However, as more companies deploy cloud-based HR technology, HR departments will need to work harder to win buy-in from their employees.

These technologies only work if employees and managers take the time to keep them updated.

“HR has to be much better at marketing to make employees buy into these tools,” he said.

That means, for example, HR departments should consider appointing people to focus on the user experience of HR systems.

That is not such a stretch, says Averbook, given that many HR organisations are already responsible for buildings and cleanliness, which, he says, is another form of user experience.

“User experience is something that HR is not good at, but it needs to get better at. It can’t solely be the responsibility of IT, “ he said.

What's in it for employees ?

Employees will need to know there is something in it for them, if they are really going to buy into cloud-based HR.

“If there is a history in the organisation of never looking at an internal employee for promotion, or if there is an old boys' network that I always hire on, then there is no value for me in filling in data in the HR system,” he said

HR managers may also have to work hard to overcome resistance from the IT department, when it comes to new technology.

“We see it a lot. IT people create the business case for these new technologies, but because it would involve their job changing, they would say the business case does not make sense, in order for job preservation,” he said.

The biggest change for HR over the past 12 months has been in consumers' relationship with technology, Averbook said.

“The most important thing that has changed is how consumers have embraced technology and customer service. HR is customer service in a different set of clothes,” he said.


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