The Future of Talent Technology

Talent technologies are now more valuable than ever with technology bolstering the capability of the entire hire-to-retire spectrum. Still, some executives have been slow to adopt leading talent practices.

The organizations with leading talent practices have a few things in common. First, they have adopted the mindset of integrated talent management. They look at the employee life cycle as a cohesive experience. They want technology to enable employees, not burden them.

Most organizations have secured tools that facilitate this. Even with new tools, an old mindset still prevails, and it is inhibiting true innovation.

The technology that has gained prominence in recent years has done so based on its delivery and business model. These are known as software-as-a-service, or SaaS, products. Total cost of ownership and time to implement were supposed to be lower and faster. Sometimes they were.

Talent processes were supposed to be easily standardized across an enterprise. Sometimes they were. What economic or cultural value was gained? Not much. 

True innovation requires different thinking. But what most technology vendors have done is automate existing processes in SaaS. The benefits have been largely technological. It’s been about maintenance from the core HR system all the way through to compensation, learning, performance, etc. The same old processes have been automated.  

True technological innovation is going to be based on consciously designing beneficial employee experience. It is going to be about creating new processes and measures that will serve as the basis for better insights into organizational dynamics. 

The talent technology ecosystem of tomorrow is not going to come from a technology vendor. It will be created by courageous leaders who know the culture they want and how to bring it to life. 

Talent management technologies will enable these unique processes and measurement systems. Yet most technology vendors now want their clients to fit into their box so they can scale.

Consider the concept of employee experience management, which is analogous to customer experience management and takes an employee-centric approach. It’s based on meeting the needs and desires of employees, both in the present and in the future. This is going to guide the design of the employee life cycle of the future and the underlying technologies that enable it.

So what does an employee-centric design look like, and who are the software vendors?

I’m not going to answer the second question. You’ll have to do that for yourself. But I’ll provide a brief perspective by which to ask insightful questions HR leaders should consider when evaluating technology.

First, is the technology engaging? Is it something that an employee will want to interact with? If not, then it’s a nonstarter as a future solution. Plus, the technology will need to be valuable to the employee.  LinkedIn is a great example. Professionals engage with it because there’s a belief that it benefits them. As such, people use it. It works so well that LinkedIn often contains more valuable and accessible information about employees than internal systems. 

Second, will the technology accommodate unique processes and measurements? There has been a lot of press about workforce and talent analytics. What nearly all of these clippings fail to call out is that an analytics strategy needs a measurement strategy. The insights that come out are only as good as the data put in. For truly valuable insights to come from a technology system or product, leaders are going to have to rethink the measurement strategy across the employee life cycle.

Do your technologies enable this? If not, then the insights leaders want or need may not surface; the data available might remain inappropriate or inadequate.

While there are many other important questions to ask when evaluating new talent technologies, these two are critical.

Herein lies the challenge for HR leaders: The idea that vendors will bring you an ecosystem that you and your organization are supposed to live comfortably in isn’t realistic. What’s going to be truly appropriate needs to be created.

 Design the future you want; then look for partners to help bring it to life.