Why HR Is Being Disrupted

Russell Porter

Commentators have been calling for HR to be “blown up,” or reinvented, for many years now. And that’s exactly what is happening.

HR hasn’t changed much since the 1990’s (except in name)

The HR function used to be called “Personnel Management.” As it moved from a transactional and administrative function towards compliance and talent management, it became known as Human Resources.

Today, HR is often called “People and Culture,” which reflects the continuing shift to focus on the employee experience and productivity – ensuring people can (and want to!) perform at their best, wherever they are and whatever they do.

The evolution of HR

Despite these name changes and shifts of focus, a study running since 1995 found that for 20+ years there has been little change in how HR allocates its time. In fact, the authors say that there has been “more discussion of change than actual change.”

For example, until a couple of years ago, performance management processes had barely changed since World War II. And some recruiters still spend most of their time manually sifting through resumes instead of using intelligent software, talent communities, alumni databases, and advanced recruiting marketing strategies.

Meanwhile, the world has moved on.

Chronic under-investment in HR technology

Sure, a lot of organizations have updated their recruiting tools or their learning systems over the last 5-10 years, but most have not reshaped their HR systems landscape for the mobile, digital era.

Most core HR systems in large organizations are 8 years old or older and do not connect to all the other pieces of the HR puzzle, like performance, learning, and remuneration.

It’s a data-driven world

CEOs expect more of HR than ever. The new CHRO has to have analytical skills, be business-savvy, and take a data-driven approach.

Would it be acceptable if a CFO couldn’t explain how much capital the company had or how much profit it made last year? Imagine if the CIO didn’t know which systems the company uses and how they’re performing.

Yet in many organizations, HR is unable to quickly and easily produce a head count report based on live data. In other words, they can’t say how many people work for the organization and where they are. With today’s available technologies and people analytics capabilities, there’s no reason why this should be the case.

Here’s where things get exciting

Disruption presents as many opportunities as it does challenges. Now is the time for HR professionals to shape the future of their industry and play a significant role in the direction of their organization.

HR is more important than you might think. It’s a bit of a cliché, but for most organizations, people are their most important asset. People are typically one of the top two or three expenses in an organisation and nothing much gets done without people. And who is the custodian of the organisations people? HR, of course!

The rise of the machines

Machine learning, artificial intelligence, and augmented reality are just three examples of innovations that will significantly disrupt our way of life both at work and at home.

Many of today’s current jobs will be replaced, or at minimum augmented by advanced technologies. Oxford University estimated about 47% of today’s jobs will be automated by 2034.

As the stewards of culture, HR can play an active role in shaping the organisations of the future and embrace the workplace impacts of technology.

People want to work how they live – intuitively, real-time, and in the moment. HR strategies, processes, and tools must provide that experience.

HR’s time is now

A Kodak employee actually invented the digital camera in the 1970’s. Decades later, the company filed for bankruptcy while others disrupted their industry.

Let’s make sure this time of great disruption and innovation is not HR’s Kodak moment.

To learn more about how to respond to HR disruption and hear from others who are doing just that, join us at HR Connect 2018 in Sydney or Auckland in May. Click here to register!


Russell Porter

About Russell Porter

Russell Porter is part of the Business Transformation Advisory team with SAP SuccessFactors. He partners with HR and business leaders to help them identify, deliver and realise the value of innovative cloud-based Human Resources solutions – so that organisations can optimise their workforce and achieve their strategic business objectives. Based in Sydney, he provides industry thought leadership, strategic solution advice and expert consultation across the Asia Pacific region.