New research exposes the delicate balance of both embracing technological advancements and managing the complexities they introduce in the realm of human resources. How can senior HR leaders forge ahead with HR technology?
By Prof. Maria J. , ICADE, Pontifical University & University College Dublin
Besides all things AI, there is no doubt new technologies have triggered and made possible enormous changes in how organisations operate nowadays, leading some of them to successful overhauls of their business models.
Yet, when it comes to HR Analytics, technology is both the solution and the problem. Practitioners and academics all agree that without proper technological infrastructure, the production and delivery of robust reporting and advanced people analytics becomes challenging, time consuming and pricy.
Case study and survey research has shown that people analytics functions need at least two to three years to build a solid technological infrastructure, often involving the migration from dozens of technologies and platforms servicing payroll, time and attendance tracking, applicant tracking, learning management or mobility solutions to a one large scalable and mostly all-encompassing platform, which provides the organisation with greater opportunities to streamline reporting and to dispose of data lakes ready to be partitioned and analysed. Technology integration primary allows users to minimise their data storage points whereas the alternative to this would be to painstakingly interrogate all these multiple platforms, define agreed metrics, data clean and plug the HR data into a purpose-built database whenever a project needs to be delivered. HR Analytics practitioners know technology integration is the foundation for a solid and ongoing delivery of supporting people analytics insights.
To this day, we still do not know the extent of integration of HR technologies in organisations. In 2021, we surveyed over 230 firms located all over the world (27% from USA and Canada; 28% from the United Kingdom and Ireland; 22% from Central and Southern Europe and 10% from Central and South America; another 10% from Asia Pacific and a final 2% from Eastern Europe). Approximately 70% of these organisations are multinationals while 30% are domestic.
Our research reveals that only 7% of organisations say their HR technology is fully integrated, while roughly 25% of organisations reports that most of their HR technology is fully integrated.
A third of these firms acknowledges that only some of their HR technologies and solutions are integrated while one in five reports high levels of fragmentation within their HR technology and solutions architecture. The picture is, indeed, sobering and we venture to argue that the technology integration landscape needs maturing.
The question at this point is: why is technology integration so challenging and what else can be done?
The reasons behind the lack of integration in HR technologies architecture can be manyfold, from a lack of capability, skills or time to a lack of strategic vision regarding HR data potential in the organisation. There are also some practical genuine reasons that may be deterring HR analytics functions from integrating their data, namely, budget constraints and indeed, the painstaking process of integrating different databases into one. These include common agreement of metrics between data bases owned by different department or functions in the organisations, negotiations on data inclusion and data request protocols, data inconsistencies and subsequent transformation, and the development of an appropriate data ethics and governance framework for the use of HR data more specifically.
Here we offer some tips to help you achieve greater technology integration:
- Secure leadership support for HR technology integration
- Identify in which ways your HR technology does not support your People Analytics vision and strategy
- Perform a data audit to identify data points and degree of fragmentation in your HR technologies (within HR and with the broader organisation)
- Design a viable HR Technology architecture strategy