Businesses must rethink HR IT as traditional jobs disintegrate

HR software needs a complete rethink to deliver services to an increasingly dispersed workforce, says cloud technology specialist

Employers will need to rethink the way they use technology as traditional employment patterns fracture over the next five years, a technology specialist warned this week.

Traditional jobs will disintegrate as more employers chose to outsource packages of work to people outside the organisation, or to temporary contract staff, rather than hire permanent staff, said cloud computing expert Jason Averbook (pictured).

The trend will create headaches for technology leaders who will have to find new ways of delivering technology services to an increasingly dispersed workforce, he said in an interview with Computer Weekly.

“By 2020 there will be upwards of 50% of employees [in a typical company] who are freelance and end up working for 5 or 6 different companies at the same time,” said Averbook.

The end of HR as we know it ?

These changing patterns will spell the death of the company HR function as we know it, the chief innovation officer at cloud consulting firm Appirio claimed.

“These are massive tectonic shifts. Its not just a little tweak. Its massive," he said. “We are coming close to saying the HR function needs to be reborn.”

HR technology suppliers are beginning to redesign their software to help companies manage not just their employees, but a range of “human assets” – including freelancers called in to the company on-demand for specific jobs.

Cloud-based HR tools, such as Workday, can handle this variation in employment. And SAP, which is expanding its cloud HR services, last week bought Fieldglass, which will bring it the ability to manage temporary workers.

But enterprises still have some catching up to do, said Averbook.

Frustrated employees

They need to stop thinking about HR technology that makes life easier for the HR department; and start thinking about workforce technology that makes life easier for employees.

The next generation of workers, who have been brought up on smart phones and mobile apps, will be more demanding of technology than ever before, he said.

“If companies can’t respond to that, employees are going to be frustrated and complaining. They are going to go to sites like and say it sucks to work here,” he said.

And that will deter other potential employees from working at your company, he said.

Do not wait to digitise 

Companies should push now to digitise their companies, in readiness for the next generation of digital worker, rather than wait.

“It is easier for the digital immigrant to become ready to use technology than for a digital native to go back to use paper that they have never used before," he said.

 “If we wait for the digital immigrants to die off, we are going to be at a huge disadvantage.”

Analysing data

For HR departments, this will mean moving away from traditional measures of how HR is performing, such as how long it takes to fill a job or the cost per hire, to measurements that add more value.

It might mean, for example, using data analytics to work out whether a marketing person on a high salary with three years' experience is more valuable to the company than a marketing person with two years' experience on a lower salary who generates fewer sales leads.

“My big piece of advice to IT leaders is that the only way to do this is to start again with new technology. You can’t take old-school client server technology and somehow try to make it work in this environment,” he said.



Jason Averbook will be speaking at the HR Tech Europe event in Amsterdam (23-24 Oct)



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