Technology Is No Panacea

According to Ted Elliott, CEO and founder of talent relationship management product provider Jobscience, people forget that technology is only a tool, not an end in itself. Older workers bring the hard-wired experience — or what freshly minted MBAs may call pattern recognition skills — that younger workers are still developing.

“Companies cannot do without experienced employees,” he said. “Instead of worrying about whether older workers can keep up with new technology, we should demand that IT only deploy technology that all employees can use. If only experienced workers can figure out how to use the technology, it’s not good for the business.”

Jessica Miller-Merrell, CEO of Xceptional HR and author of Tweet This! Twitter for Business, suggests that HR leaders teach employees about mobile HR technology and its progression of use via social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

“We need to spend a lot more time than we already do talking to our employees about how these tools can and should be used,” she said. “It’s about more than ‘Here’s our mobile policy, here’s our social media policy, and here’s our flex-work policy.’ We need to explain the what, how and where of these tools and how they can benefit the company and employee when used.”

Talent managers have to work hard to make sure all new technology is intuitive. Most busy employees don’t have the time or attention to learn new software. IPads, iPhones and their rivals will continue an aggressive march into the workplace and the HR department. It’s a talent manager’s responsibility to make sure technology for these platforms and others can be learned quickly and is an asset to the business.

“We see growing adoption of talent management applications. However, much of the adoption has focused on automating traditional processes,” said Jim Holincheck, vice president of services strategy and marketing at software provider Workday. “This is valuable, but adopting talent management technology does not mean your organization is managing talent more effectively. It is the garbage in equals garbage out phenomenon.”

Holincheck said companies can have the best talent management technology and the best talent processes in the world, but if they have not identified the correct competencies for the job, set the right goals or identified the appropriate development items, it does not matter. Likewise, if a leader has great talent management technology and talent processes but managers who do a poor job of communicating with employees, the company will fail.

“My optimistic view of the future is that HR embraces its business partner role and gets beyond the perception of other business leaders that its primary role is administration and compliance,” he said. “People coming into HR roles will hopefully have broader business experience and more analytical skills.

“HR will discover that analytics are a key tool for solving the garbage in, garbage out problem in talent management, and emerging technologies around mobile, social and analytics — delivered in the cloud — will become tools the HR professional uses to instill culture, drive change and facilitate work in the organization.”

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