from the #Valley

The day a humanoid replaced HR professionals

date: 16 / 06 / 2017 | written by Jochen Bessemans | comments: 0
Will the robots replace HR people? It all depends on whether or not HR professionals will become captians of an HR speedboat or remain sailboats floating around in a perfect storm.

Unless you just got back from outer space you have surely seen numerous lists of jobs that will be taken over by robots. Depending on the source these claim that by 2030 (or sooner) give or take 1 out of 3 jobs will disappear. The most cited professions are telemarketeers, sales jobs, accountants and so on.

I still have to see a list which names the HR profession. After all, HR is pretty safe from extinction, isn’t it? Two weeks ago I attended a lecture citing that only 1 out of 17 HR tasks could be automated ‘because it’s all about human-to-human interaction’…

I don’t want to be a party pooper but thinking like this will turn you into the frog that’s slowly being boiled… Why? Let me introduce you to SimSensei:

Meet SimSensei

This ‘virtual human’ is used to help people with PTSD and adapts its responses to interact with the human it is talking to. How about that for ‘human interaction’! And such technology is already seeping into the HR space via startups like for example Intervyo and Facelytix. I don’t know if you’re a recruiter – I’m not – but I can imagine such a ‘humanoid’ taking over at least part of a recruiter’s current job… and it might not take that long before this happens.

Sailing the perfect storm

It is important to realize that until about 2014 evolution in technology for HR purposes has been slow compared to tech in other industries. Since then you see the pace increasing rapidly. Not only are there HR Tech startups popping up everywhere, investments in HR Tech companies have also quadrupled in 4 years (and we are even leaving out Microsoft’s LinkedIn acquisition for 29 billion US!). Other big players are also entering the industry (Google for Jobs, Facebook Workplace) and unusual suspects (marketing agencies, publishers, insurance companies) are acquiring HR Tech companies (they’re after the data, I guess).

Looking at all this activity there is but one conclusion: HR is in for a perfect storm and it better learns how to sail it. But like boats still need a crew, so will HR professionals still have their role to play. I am convinced all this tech will be an opportunity for HR to become the captain of an HR speedboat that can keep up with the other speedboats within their organization.

On a side note: I feel it’s important to realize that HR Tech is much more than the big legacy systems of 5 years ago which take ages to implement and function properly. HR Tech is increasingly becoming plug ‘n play, low cost and user friendly.

A word to the wise

The question you will certainly have is: how do we become captains? How do we use this HR Tech to our advantage, to show we are adding value to our organization?

Well, don’t ask me, ask yourself.

Which are the tasks that aren’t really people focused, that aren’t really core HR but take up (too) much of your time? Which systems or tools (like Excel lists) are you using that need a lot of attention? Which processes are tedious, labor-intensive, time consuming and don’t add real value to your HR work? What HR-related areas (for example wellbeing, evaluation, burn-out,…) are currently difficult for you to monitor?

No doubt you can come up with a number of similar questions relevant to your situation. What these questions come down to is: what needs to improve to enable you to become an HR captain, someone who can proof his or her added value to the organization and its people?

Go explore!

With the speed at which HR Tech is evolving chances are there is tech that will assist you in answering these questions. So talk to your HR colleagues in other companies and find out how they tackle these questions. Find sparring partners who know HR Tech, like our HR Techperts, who can independently direct you through the HR Tech forest. You can also book them for a strategic presentation or workshop on the impact of digital on HR.

Exploring HR Tech might mean you’ll have to ‘boldly go where you never went before’, a venture that requires of you an open mind which dares to leave its comfort zone, which realizes you can’t keep doing what you’ve always been doing in a world that’s changing day in day out.

Spock would say: ‘It’s still HR Jim, but not as we know it’. I do think you should also look at it from the same angle: even with HR Tech it’s still HR, but not as you have always known it.

Are you up for the challenge?


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