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Wednesday 27th August 2014

Ringing the changes

There's change – and then there's big change. Three reasons why mobile changes everything for HR

In the beginning of time – let’s call it the 1950s and 1960s – if you worked in HR and/or people management, you’d have experienced the widespread introduction of time-clocks and payroll systems. This was just the first of a wave of technology-driven changes.

As technology continued to evolve through the latter part of the 20th century, ERP platforms and then specialist recruiting and talent management systems increasingly gained traction. These led naturally to the next step change, as technology meant that more HR time could be dedicated to high value activity rather than core administration.

And now, the next huge wave of change is being driven by mobile.

Why is mobile different?

Each previous wave of change has been focused around HR, business leaders and their issues. The technology was built mainly to solve the old problems of reducing cost, improving speed, or delivering a better quality of compliance.

Mobile is wholly different and begins to change your business world.

Reason 1: It’s every day

Platforms designed to be mobile-centric are fundamentally different in one immediate way – they are designed for the everyday user to, well, use them every day. This includes how they look, ease of use, and how available important data and actions are whenever an end user wants to access them. This design difference drives an adoption rate not seen before for HR tools.

Reason 2: Power to the people

Giving users the ability to do what they want whenever they want is a major shift for HR. Pretty much every other HR technology platform has been designed and set up by HR people to make their own jobs easier. And unsurprisingly this means they ain’t much fun for everyone else to use. Mobile forces thinking the other way round – what can we imagine our users would like to do, and how.

Reason 3: The end of complex HR managed processes, the end of Ulrich

And if you start designing platforms with the user in mind, you start realising how overly complex many processes actually are. Whisper it, but do we keep structuring HR organisations on an old system of thinking that advocates strong HR oversight? If you want an example think about how you can design a simple performance review process that can be done by mobile. Are there many competences in it? Multiple stages of HR review? Didn’t think so.

What to do?

This revolution isn’t going to happen overnight. Zappos have shown where you can get to by challenging standard thinking about HR, removing job descriptions and online job applications, for example. But you can be sure that it is coming your way.

Make sure your next tech investment includes mobile and user adoption, and that your supplier has a strong mobile strategy.

About the author

Nick Holmes

From Monday to Friday, HR technology is my world. I help a diverse set of customers get the most they can from HR & elearning technology. It’s a complex world for HR leaders – there are no easy solutions, and no two leaders are the same. Business is changing fast, and HR is changing fastest of all, which keeps life supremely interesting. I’m a zealot about technology, collaboration, authentic leadership and how these are all combining to change the way we will work in the future.