Evolution of HR Technology

Sep 21, 2015

Emergence of HR systems

Using technology in HR’s functioning is a relatively new phenomena.Tech revolution of the 90s really had left HR and talent acquisition alone. The initial tech revolution focused purely on where the money was visibly available and things everyone wanted to measure was always things that have been measured. Like Henry Ford said about the world before the automobile was invented, “If I would have asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses” Well, while the view is well received, it is true that businesses look for tangible and measurable values up-front and in the age of quick returns, looking at measurable results from already measured places in finer detail became a fad. The main issue – the issue of where these decisions come from have been quite ignored. In today’s world of extreme and continuously lessening cost of automation, it is the people’s decisions that truly ‘matter’. It is the people that truly separate organizations from competitors; separating them from becoming clones of each other though that is what the world has pseudo-arrived at.

Increasing focus on process and process improvements has led organizations to become standardized and efficient from a process perspective however at an operational level, has the execution bit been ignored? It definitely looks that way. Processes by definition have defined inputs and defined outputs. Not to knock on their efficiencies, they are an extremely important part of an organization’s backbone however the other key functional responsibilities still lie with the people. Hence the ferocious battle for the ‘right’ fit and ‘operational efficiency’ is raging. The first revolutionary technological gift to HR talent acquisition has been the ATS (Application Tracking System). Of course we had the concept of using vendors & RPO (Recruitment Process Outsourcing) for a while to aid with the recruitment cycle as well as attendance trackers to crack the tailgating issue and get an accurate measurement of productivity and security issues with a still questionable results. ATS helped bring structure to the earlier unaccounted and a slightly haphazard recruitment lifecycle. Application Tracking Systems have brought a sea change to the way organizations work and have enabled organizations to set a strong input-output measurement system for the process to operate and a tool to enable it. The present expectation of organizations that the ATS helps them recruit the ‘right fit’ however is slightly unfounded. Let us look at it this way – it is a tool that helps you sieve through the thousands of resumes that hit you until you conduct an interview and close the role with a candidate. At no point in time are we able to determine if this is the candidate that you were looking for or the closest match to that candidate. Meaning – yes your recruitment is faster but resumes you are looking at may not even be the most relevant candidates to you.

Scientific test –

We are expecting an accelerator to perform the function of a turbo. The quality differs. An ATS is a database – your inputs are stored and when you search for keywords, it does exactly what it promises – searches these words. The data is not taken through any additional concepts, understanding or learning from previous instances of that the organization has gone through. Organizational needs are also not taken into consideration – the senior management and the ‘strategists’ do not have a view on the impact of each wrong hire or unnecessary hire. The article by Fred Yager, points out – “A recent survey by Robert Half showed that one-third (36%) of 1,400 executives surveyed felt the top factor leading to a failed hire, aside from performance issues, is a poor skills match. The second most common reason (30%) was unclear performance objectives.” The question hence comes back to the basic requirement of hiring – Why are you hiring? What is the expectation from the individual and if he does not have a certain skill-set (let us admit it – we all fantasies about the perfect candidate on most JDs – there aren’t really many out there that match our descriptions). The answer is a big resounding “NO”. The reason – our tools – ATS solutions are unable to reflect the organizational requirements and interview candidates based on the ‘skill’ and ‘requirements’ match within the organization. In short, the organization’s “Context” is not visible in its attempt to recruit, leading to an expectation – acquisition mismatch.

What does this mean and where do we go from here?

Technology in the right hands today is capable of providing organizations a smaller, talent-rich search area. This results in lesser wasted efforts Eg. Say 3 recruiters would scour through 300 resumes a day on an ATS – this, based on keyword searches are seen to provide at best around 10 to 18% meaning it would be approximately around 45 of them are even relevant to the job. Number of man hours just to search through these – 24 man hours. This is just the search bit, we are not even talking about the actual time spent of mailing these candidates and follow-up; which takes up significantly longer time. Today however, there are organizations with capabilities that can deliver upto 95% accuracy in contextual search within seconds. Time saved – flat 47 hours and 59 minutes! Right away! Over a period of 22 days of a month, that number goes up significantly! Furthermore, being ‘learning’ systems thanks to the abilities of big data and contextual intelligence, these platforms learn from the trends of hiring and the candidate’s success within the organization. It is also capable of taking organization’s changing context to enable organizations to remain agile with hiring, retaining and up-skilling its employee base. These platforms however are not your normal ATS solutions. While these may be replace the regular ATS, their true value is in providing what is termed as ‘Operational Efficiency’. It truly and significantly reduces the work required to hire the most relevant candidates and continuous learning ensures a tacit link to overall cost reduction due to reduced attrition of these candidates once on-boarded.

Need for Intelligent platform

In summarization, yes, ATS has its value and provides process efficiencies however actual ROIs and overall process efficiency leading to a learned and an intricate link to organizational success can only be obtained by platforms and products such as the ones offered by Spire Technologies which encompass the holistic view of an organization’s needs and maps the candidate’s competencies with the organization’s belief. Whilst numbers can be thrown around for anything in today’s world, organizations can see value only when the numbers are ‘contextual’ and reflect their beliefs and necessities.