Is HR the New IT?

As recruitment, on-boarding and development head to the cloud and mobile devices put sophisticated tools into everyone’s hands, HR leaders are discovering that technology savvy and analytical skills are key to effective talent management.

Last spring prospective Fastrac Markets employees had one choice when applying for a job at the gas station. They had to come to the location where they wanted to work and fill out an application onsite. Not only was this time consuming — hiring managers spent their days traveling to stores picking up applications — it was fruitless, because Dave Hogan, the company’s vice president of human resources, knew he wasn’t reaching top talent.

Hogan adopted a new, Web-based talent management solution to generate assessments and reports. He said he thought candidates would appreciate the opportunity to apply through their desktops at home, but he didn’t expect the deluge of response.

“I’ve had several people come into the store saying they have a question about our application,” he said. “When I look for the Web instruction sheet to give them, they say they know how to do it — they just applied on the phone in the car — they just want to make sure something they submitted was OK.”

Hogan shouldn’t be surprised. According to Cisco’s “Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update,” globally, mobile data traffic grew 2.3-fold in 2011, more than doubling for the fourth year in a row. By 2016, there will be 1.4 mobile devices per capita — that’s more than 10 billion, which will exceed the world’s estimated population at that time of 7.3 billion.

Thanks to this trend, when it comes to mobile workforce management technology, the days of pen, paper and spreadsheets are practically history. Employees once flustered by bureaucratic tasks can accomplish wonders from wherever they like. Managers plagued by scheduling and time-off requests can approve or deny dozens in a matter of minutes.

“In the past, HR has been responsible for certain administrative activities and compliance,” said Jim Holincheck, vice president of services strategy and marketing at software provider Workday. “Those responsibilities never go away, unless they are outsourced. Technology, however, has been a great enabler for reducing the effort and cost associated with administration and compliance. HR has moved from focusing on efficiency to effectiveness.”

Mobile Builds a Brand