This article is part of our Essential Guide: A guide to HR technology

Cloud, big data and social media transforming HR

Business professionals that combine an understanding of HR and IT are helping to transform the way companies manage their workforce

Business professionals who combine an understanding of HR and information technology are helping to transform the way companies manage their workforce.

HR departments have come relatively late to IT, but the development of sophisticated, cloud-based HR tools, social media and big data analytics is transforming the way HR departments work.

The trend has begun to attract the attention of technically literate HR directors and a smaller but growing number of IT professionals with an interest in workforce development.

Two years ago one of the first European conferences on HR and technology attracted 300 delegates. By last year, the numbers had doubled.

A spin-off conference in London this week, HR Tech Europe, drew another 300 HR and technology specialists from the UK.

“A group of individuals are surfing who have a HR and an IT responsibility, who have not been very visible or haven’t really had a community of their own until now,” said Jon Ingham, HR technology consultant and analyst told Computer Weekly.

The convergence of HR and IT will mean that CIOs and HR directors – two areas of the business that rarely collaborate – will need to work increasingly closely.

“It has not mattered in the past because people management has not been seen as essential to success as it is today,” said Ingham.

Recent years have seen the emergence of sophisticated HR technology, in areas such as talent management, recruitment and employee benefits.

They take advantage of developments in the cloud, big data and social media, to provide businesses with increasingly sophisticated analytical tools.

However, in most UK organisations, the technology used to underpin HR operations is "woefully inadequate" compared to level of IT used in the rest of the business, Ingham said.

“What you have is a huge gap between what organisations are doing and what they could be doing, in one of the areas that is becoming the most important for business,” he said.

Ingham advised HR professionals start learning about the impact that social analytics, cloud and other technical innovations could have in driving the effectiveness of business.

“I think it's one of the most exciting areas of technology at the moment, partly because it has been left to the end,” he said.

“We have done marketing, we have done supply chain, we have done finance, we have not done HR. So there is a big potential to make a difference here.”

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