As billionaire entrepreneur Marc Andreessen once said, “Software is eating the world.”
The quote perfectly captures the economic shifts currently underway. From Google cars and autonomous crop dusters to podcasts and text analysis, technology is fundamentally changing the way people live, play and work. And nowhere are the implications of these changes greater than in talent management.
First, easier communication has led to an explosion of professional networks, most prominently LinkedIn. By reducing the friction in locating and landing employment opportunities, LinkedIn has enabled individuals to test and change their economic activities in new ways.
The same is also true of employers, which, thanks to software, are now able to identify and recruit individuals in more targeted ways. While this means greater flexibility for everyone, it also comes with shifting social contracts between employers and employees. LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman in his book “The Alliance” provides great insights and guidance around these shifts.
Second, the firm itself is now also under attack. In the age of pay phones, firms maintained an economic advantage by leveraging in-house talent for a variety of tasks, some clearly defined and others that had yet to materialize. In this environment, companies could leverage broadly skilled individuals for a range of tasks. Today, the degree of task specialization is mind-bending and finding talent is easy. Nevertheless, a dearth in skilled talent and growing company needs for specialized roles has given talent more power.
Finally, there are implications for us in the HR and talent management community. As the quality of software improves and the automation of traditional HR tasks increase, we all must ask this basic question:
Am I as a talent manager truly adding value by leveraging new technologies or am I increasingly obsolete? What is a talent manager’s role in a world increasingly managed by and through technology?