HR Tech is moving, but not as fast as it could. Tom Haak gave a presentation at the HR Tech Tank in Amsterdam. This is a summary of what he presented.
HR Tech Tank
Andrei Majewski of HR Tech Tank kindly asked me to give a short presentation at the HR Tech Tank Meeting that took place in Amsterdam on August 31, 2017, in Amsterdam. It was a lively meeting, where some interesting HR Tech solutions got the opportunity to present themselves to a group of investors and HR professionals with an interest in HR Tech (“HR Tech aficionados”, as someone addressed them). The HR Tech companies were Joboti, KeenCorp, OnRecruit, VonQ and XOR.
In this post, I want to give you a summary of what I presented at the meeting. Some thoughts on HR Tech today, and some of the opportunities I see.
HR Tech is moving slowly
The first observation: HR Tech is moving slowly. Too slowly. the opportunities offered by HR Tech are numerous, but adaptation and implementation are slow. Marketing, Finance and Operations are further ahead, hopefully the next big wave is HR.
The end of Apps
Many HR Tech start-ups have developed apps. If you look for example in the mood measurement and the feedback area, you encounter many apps. I sense apps are on the way down. Organisations and people do not want more apps, they want less. Integration with existing tools and platforms is key. Example: many small and mid-size organisations use Slack as the communication- and collaboration tool. Clever HR solutions integrate with Slack. Chatbots are increasingly used to have conversations with candidates and employees. The chatbots have the conversations via Facebook messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat and what have you.
All solutions are “Powered by AI”
When you browse through the websites of HR Tech solutions, almost all of them today are powered by AI (artificial intelligence). In many instances, it just means: “We use a computer”. Using the term AI is quickly becoming meaningless.
It is all about the Employee Experience
In a short period of time, the term Employee Experience has become established in the HR world. This is a welcome addition. It helps to get more focus on the employees (instead of management), and it helps to structure the landscape of HR Tech solutions.
Happiness (is a warm gun…)
Measuring employee happiness seems to be an attractive domain for HR Tech entrepreneurs. The catalogue of solutions (often apps) that can be used to capture the mood of employees in a simple way, is rather full (read: Employee mood measurement trends). The modern tools are generally not very sophisticated. You must choose between five smiley buttons, or you have to answer a couple of questions. I think the impact of these kind of tools will be very limited. Many people do not really like it at work, and asking them regularly to express their current mood (if they are willing to share…) is not going to change this. Where is the business case that a mood measurement app will bring a lot of benefits (not only monetary) to your organisation? HR Tech has a lot more to offer.
Where is the Headspace of HR?
More and more people use Headspace, the meditation app. Headspace is simple, attractive and it seems to have a positive impact on people. In a sense, Headspace is one of the most successful HR solutions (not much Tech about Headspace). Where are the Headspace examples in the other areas of HR?
Will the Ultimate Solution ever come?
Many organisations still hope that one day the Ultimate Solution will come. So why invest in separate HR Tech solutions, if the day of the arrival of the Ultimate Solution is very near? The concept of the Ultimate Solution (powered by Ultimate Solution providers, and consultants who earn their money with US-implementation) is slowing down progress in the HR domain. Let’s face reality, the Ultimate Solution will never come.
Most HR Tech needs consultative selling
Being successful in HR Tech is all about scalability. You design a solution that can be used by many people in many organisations, you charge a monthly fee per employee, and there you go. As your efforts are not related to the number of users, you can earn a lot of money. Unfortunately, there are not many HR Tech solutions where it works in this way. Most solutions need a lot of tailoring. To be able to do the tailoring, you need to understand an organisation, and help an organisation to redesign and improve processes. Before you know it, you are more a consultant than an HR Tech salesman. And consultancy is not scalable.
Why is HR Tech moving slowly?
This is a summary of the reasons why I think the implementation of HR Tech is rather slow. Of course, this is a crude generalisation, and fortunately there are certainly organisations and HR teams that do not fit in this profile.
The HR Tech Landscape
This is my very subjective view of the HR Tech landscape today. I have mapped categories of solutions on two axes: the potential impact on organisations, and the number of available HR Tech solutions. The conclusion you can draw from this picture: the opportunities are huge. Some very important areas, with a potential huge impact, are still very empty today. Clever performance consulting tools hardly exist, most of them stay on the level of gathering high level feedback. The learning domain is dominated by old solutions packaged in a new way (mainly online catalogues of courses, videos and other learning material). Productivity is maybe not a separate category, as it is more an outcome than an activity. I mention it, as productivity improvement is not appearing as a top priority on many HR agendas.
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