When we think of science fiction, images of flying cars, robot butlers and hover boots oftentimes come to mind. It’s easy to forget that there’s science fiction for the business world, too. And just like our favorite movies, some fantastical ideas end up making it into everyday manufacturing and distribution routines.
They might not be as flashy as a time-traveling DeLorean, however, for tech-savvy companies, they represent a chance to evolve their employee engagement in ways that were barely imaginable ten or twenty years ago. This is particularly true in the area of human resources, which has been transformed by the advent of social media and virtual sharing.
Every year, HR tech trends get bigger, bolder and more brilliant. At the moment, virtual reality is the star of the show, but advancements are being made in robotics and wearable tech as well. In 2018, experts are predicting a lot of activity around things like wireless power, augmented environments and machine learning.
Today, we’re going to explore some of these trends, and build up a picture of how HR practices will change in 2018:
Virtual and Augmented Reality
The term “virtual reality” is very familiar these days, and the biggest headlines tend to be associated with gaming. While it’s easy to assume that human resources and gaming are worlds apart, augmented reality, in any capacity, is concerned with building new worlds. When it comes to HR tech trends, this can be extended to training scenarios.
It would be much more cost efficient (and, in some cases, safer) if corporate training could be provided inside virtual environments. In fact, the implications for on-the-job learning are significant, as the expectation is that real-world tasks will be combined with virtual instruction. This would allow employees to view learning prompts as they engage in hands-on activities.
Advanced Machine Learning
Machine learning is a complex subject, and many businesses are a little intimidated by it. The technology uses algorithms to create analytical models without the need for human intervention. Machine learning programs iteratively learn from large quantities of data by identifying patterns and trends.
In the simplest of terms, these programs are capable of looking for answers in huge volumes of information. Although, it should be noted that the technology does this by identifying, combining, and eliciting insights from these patterns, rather than being specifically programmed to search for answers. As a result, it learns in a progressive, iterative manner.
Machine learning has been slow to take off, but it’s in use among some HR professionals. For instance, talent relationship platform PhenomPeople analyzes marketing personalization practices, and applies them to the recruitment process. It’s also rumored that KPMG is developing an enterprise engagement tool that’s heavily based on “smart” algorithms.
Robotics and Autonomous Agents
Every year, robotics continues to evolve in terms of both task diversity and capacity. While the most talked about example is the self-driving car, it’s possible that, in the future, robots will become keepers and sharers of internal information. They’ll speed up communications and increase productivity by providing instant access to the right data, at the right times.
While this is unlikely to happen over the next twelve months, it’ll be interesting to see how smart systems (like Siri and Alexa) start to play a role in talent management. It’s not difficult to imagine AIs being employed as recruitment assistants, for example, with the job of finding and presenting candidate data on request.
The Internet of Things
In 2018, the rise of cloud computing will continue, with more businesses making the transition. As far as HR tech trends go, this one is moving pretty fast. Cloud solutions are a big priority for human resources, and businesses are already making substantial investments. Increased use of this technology is likely to push HR expertise into middle management ranks.
This will unburden HR departments by repositioning middle-tier training and hierarchies. It may be that some tasks traditionally assigned to these teams get handed over to line managers. The focus of HR will move towards business performance management and execution. With the power of automation, businesses will free themselves from tedious, time-consuming obligations.
The enterprise wearables market is predicted to be worth $18 billion by late 2018. According to tech experts, a growing proportion of this will be related to human resources. The expectation is that wearable devices are going to be used, increasingly, to monitor workplace health. For high-pressure environments, this could have a big impact.
There’s been an emphasis on “intelligent” devices in recent years. For instance, the ideal workplace wearable would be one that could identify the optimum time to send a notification. It would study the behavior and routines of the user, in order to learn the difference between a good moment (setting up or preparing a task) and a bad moment (operating a machine).
The Importance of High-Quality Software
At the heart of all these HR tech trends lies software. High-quality, scalable programs are the secret to success. The reality is that you don’t have to be making plans for robot assistants or virtual training sessions to want and deserve the best. You just need a commitment and a passion for workplace productivity.
While tech and software advancements are an essential part of any business process, human resources is an area that benefits quickly and consistently. There’s a huge amount of data involved in talent management and recruitment. Half the job is sifting through resumes, KPIs, payslips, training schedules, employee statements, and more.
So, the power to hand over responsibility for finding, processing, and presenting this information is a valuable asset. Whether it happens via robotics, wearable tech, or knowledge-hungry machines, the point is that it saves time and resources. However, it must be grounded in robust, reliable software solutions.
If you haven’t reviewed your existing HRM software for some time, now is a good opportunity to make sure that it’s still doing enough for your business. Just because a product was perfect five years ago, doesn’t mean it’s still a good fit. As companies grow in size and start to take on more employees, their needs become more sophisticated, and their software should reflect this.