How Technology has Empowered HR

If we look around today, we will find that most organizations with employee headcount of 50 or more are leveraging some amount of technology to make its HR Management efficient, effective and timely. Of course, the larger organizations are firmly entrenched in large scale ERP systems to sustain their HR activities. Systems are streamlined, accessible online and fast. All this sometimes makes one wonder a) How HR did before the emergence of technology and b) How has HR been empowered by technology? c) Where is HR heading with support from technology? Of course, the first question is more easily answered – In the early days, it was all still heavily manual, paper intensive, basic and somewhat limited information storage and processing with focus mostly on salary and hire and fire and perhaps some time tracking. Accessing information was tedious.  Proliferation of internet-based technology and internet users led to further improvements in these systems and the remarkable transformational change perhaps started in the 1990s then continued onwards into the 2000s. During this entire time span, HR has evolved from being Personnel Administration to Matured Human Resource Management and Business aligned Employee Relations / Engagement.

As organizations grew in strength, coverage, diversified, became global, the demands from HR and the core objectives of HR  increased – the systems needed to ensure efficiency of process and business, be more aligned to promptly respond to changing business demands, have the agility to increase or decrease headcount,  streamline decision making, make employees and managers more self-reliant, enable the organization to cut the fat and maintain a slim HR team. Thus, it helps reduce cost, increase collaboration, transparency and improve employee engagement. Innovations in technology helped in growth of diverse applications. Today the span of HR Systems includes –  Strategic Workforce Planning, Talent sourcing and Recruitment, Onboarding, Learning and Development, Employee Engagement, Communication and Collaboration, Performance Management, Compensation and Benefits, Rewards and Recognition, Succession Planning, Payroll, Leave, Attendance  and Absence, Retirals, Lateral initiatives, Employer Branding etc. With the Cloud based systems, latest innovations in emerging technology and mobile apps, HR systems are today hugely versatile, accessible from anywhere and any device and extremely speedy and powerful. Open systems and integrations are the pillars of today’s products hence an organization’s HR technology strategy can take advantage of all that is there on the market – it can choose an integrated system from a single vendor or choose best of applications from multiple, it can even outsource some part of its function to a vendor; yet all these can function seamlessly as a single HR system through versatile APIs and Single Sign On technology.

Today’s HR systems are capable of meeting the needs of diverse industries with wide ranging needs to track, control, monitor and measure  its human resources. HR systems are used by organizations of diverse industries. Therefore, biometrics play a huge role. Tracking or validation of employees can be done by – Iris recognition, Retina recognition, Facial Pattern recognition, Ear shape recognition and analysis, Finger Print validation, Speech recognition, Signature recognition, Gait or Walking style recognition, Body part recognition, Keystroke recognition, Vein recognition and DNA matching, odor analysis. All these specialized technologies,which were once the preserve of a few select domains like medical industry, security related industry, espionage services, or Banking industry are now being adopted in Human resource systems via software and hardware technological integration. Be it for validating an employee identity for access, attendance, leave or payroll and entitlements, benefits and retirals, executing preventive medical check-up, sanctioning medical claims and reimbursements, you name it these tools and technology has empowered HR systems to handle it all. If further integration happens with authorized, collaborated healthcare systems and hospitalization options, these technologies can be leveraged to do routine checks and early treatment to prevent work stressed employees from serious physical and mental danger and hence benefit the society at large.

About the author:

Sonali Sengupta is a regular contributor on SOAIS blogs and brings to the table 25 years of HR domain & technology experience. She has led several large HR transformation programs and has seen HR evolve from a back-office, operations function to a strategic enabler of customer businesses. Sonali can be contacted at sonali.sengupta2001@gmail.com

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