HR & Innovation

Summary:Lots of innovation is popping up in HR. But, the innovation may be springing up because of the actions of job seekers and employees but not the creators of HR software. In this four part series, we look at the impact these innovations are having on HR processes; how mobile, social, video and other tech is changing HR processes; and, what vendors need to bring to the upcoming HR Technology Conference in October.

Part 1 of 4

The old HR Processes are irrelevant, long live the new, varied, dynamic processes


Some of the most amazing revolutions in software seem to occur in the HR arena (yes, human resources). That sector alone sported more cloud-based applications sooner than maybe any other. It also was where a number of multi-tenant applications debuted, too.

Innovation is changing though. Virtually every technology sector has been challenged to adapt to cloud, social and mobile capabilities. Now, technology firms must adapt to a second trinity comprised of analytics, big data and in-memory database computing. I even see two more trinities coming over the horizon, too.

With these changes, we’ll see most every business process impacted. I covered the implications of these changes in an address two weeks ago in Washington, D.C. as part of the American Accounting Association conference. But, for now, let’s focus on HR (and not accounting).

HR processes are where you see the impact of many of these changes. Don’t believe me? Look at how a process like campus recruiting looked a few years ago. 

Traditional Campus Recruiting Process Flow
Traditional Campus Recruiting Process Flow - Courtesy of Baker Tilly

Students still signed up on paper-based interview schedules. Employers may have pre-screened them. Employers showed up on campus to conduct first-round interviews. Then, employers disappeared for a few days/weeks while they contemplated which lucky recruits would get a coveted invitation for an in-office interview. More paper, more interviews and more travel ensued. Eventually, someone might get hired and some data got keyed into an HR system.

I've documented a number of business processes (not just HR) and can state that technology is changing/impacting most every part of every business. Now, the campus recruiting process looks like something no old-school HR executive can recognize. 

Process Picture2
Campus Recruiting Process Today - Courtesy of Baker Tilly

Students are using all kinds of non-HR applications to see what their social presence contains, what their friends think of potential employers, what interview questions other interviewees got, etc. The new process flow is absolutely powered with lots of mobile applications powered by cloud-services and knowledge rich external data.

Employers are using a lot of non-HR/ERP tech, too. They’re scanning Facebook to see what each candidate is all about. They’re looking at how socially connected the candidates are and whether or not the candidates have posted questionable content or behavior online. They use virtual interviewing technology like HireVue and skip the campus interviews altogether.


Lots of external innovation is inserting itself into HR processes and businesses can’t stop it from happening. Like in the campus recruiting example, people/recruits will continue to use the technology and information sources they want to use. It’s the BYOD phenomena on steroids. Businesses think they can force employees not to use social media at work or only use a BlackBerry instead of an iPhone. They are fighting a losing, maybe unwinnable, battle. Customers, suppliers, job seekers and more will keep introducing scads of new technologies, new data sources and new applications to businesses.

So, when I attend this year’s HR Technology Conference in Chicago, I will do so very differently than in previous years.  I really like this show because there usually are 200-300 HR vendors present demonstrating their wares.  I generally get briefed at this show by 1-2 dozen vendors every year but instead of them driving the content of the conversation, I want to turn the tables. See Oliver Marks piece regarding the show. 

If a vendor wants to brief me, then I want to hear about how they are embracing the new HR, social, mobile, analytic and other technologies being spawned daily. I want them to bring me old and new process maps to show exactly how their product fits in the new world. I want to know how their solution will remain relevant.

I don’t need to know the following though: “Brian, we just hired a new sales executive for the Mid-Atlantic region responsible for our vending machine sub-vertical”  or “We now support a 5-digit pay deduction field” or, the too common “Hey, come check out our new user interface”.

To help that process along, I’m providing a fair bit of detail in the subsequent posts in this series. Hopefully, these ideas will inspire companies and bring excitement and energy to the posts I write after this show.

 (please keep reading for #2 of 4)


Topics: Enterprise Software, Social Enterprise


Brian is in a unique position to diagnosis the winners and the losers in technology and services. He was the longest running (10 years) and most senior director of Andersen Consulting's (now Accenture's) global Software Intelligence unit - a position that required him to pick the best possible software solutions for hundreds of clients gl... Full Bio

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