At a number of our recent HR Leadership roundtables, the talk seems to have consistently turned to technology, and its not long before the buzzword “digitalisation” starts flying around. But what does digitalisation actually mean and how does it relate to HR? This seems to vary markedly across both company and industry spectrums, but if the number of HR tech start-ups hitting the market is anything to go by, there is clearly a huge amount of both interest and investment happening in this area.

We are seeing several of our clients embarking on transformations to embed a new digital culture—upgrading their systems and rolling out new HR platforms ranging from changing specific aspects of the employee experience to entire HRIS software implementations to manage all aspects of the HR lifecycle.

HR Tech Investment

There has been increased activity and significant investment in HR Tech in the past few years, with deal activity at an all-time high. Investors are injecting huge sums into this rapidly growing HR tech market. Everything from recruitment and applicant tracking, learning and performance tracking to payroll and workforce management seems to be going through a digitalisation upgrade. And several start-ups entering the scene offer newer, more innovative services that may disrupt more traditional incumbents. Investment in HR Data analytic start-ups is particularly high and acquisitions of these start-ups by some of the bigger players suggest that companies are realising the importance of understanding the links between big data, recruitment and workforce management.

Mobile… Everything

Mobile HR platforms are on the rise, and if the trend continues the future of HR software seems to be moving towards entirely mobile, cloud-based structures. Recruitment, employee surveys, performance management, learning and development—these have all evolved to have on-the-go apps, gamification or infographic reporting capabilities. The smart companies recognise it begins with the importance of predictive people analytics— knowing who to hire based on the organisational needs and cultural fit means a better chance of keeping them.

So once you have that sorted, how do you find and attract this talent? Understanding how to use social media to maximise exposure and interactions, when to post, what and where is paramount. As is understanding what makes your employees tick, reinventing the way you engage the population and understanding what they respond to best through simple and accessible mobile employee engagement surveys with companies like VibeCatch, WorkTango and MangoApps.

Performance Appraisal Goes Social

Companies talk about employee engagement, and whilst some are ditching the ratings systems and others are retaining performance management strategies, a number of organisations are moving towards globally accessible mobile recognition programs such as Impraise, HighGround or Globoforce that allow colleagues to provide immediate feedback on interactions with one another. High engagement is good for both employees and the business and this type of peer-to-peer recognition tool enables people to interact in a positive way and in real-time. By creating this more frequent dialogue, KPIs can be better monitored or adjusted, employees can be coached and/or rewarded accordingly, and the days of the more dated annual performance review seem numbered. A senior HR leader for a large IT organisation told us that over 1/3 of their global population are under 30 years old, and they are far less receptive to performance ratings and reviews, so modernising how performance is tracked and rewarded is crucial to keeping this talent engaged.

Digital Continuous Learning

In a recent Deloitte study, Millennials rated training & development as their top job benefit. However, this ability to keep constantly learning is a big driver for most, not just Millennials, and a significant number of our clients are investing heavily in Learning transformations to address this. Again, a huge amount of capital funding has been injected into the education technology market, and the high number of acquisitions of digital learning companies is also a testimony to this. Classroom-led learning is not completely dead; however, newer LMS platforms such as EdCast, ExpertusOne and Knolskape that include social and mobile interaction, apps and gamification are becoming increasingly popular.

Whilst digitisation seems to be somewhat of a catch-all phrase that can mean anything from upgrading the company email software to a complete digital transformation across the entire organisation, it’s an exciting time to be in HR as it’s clear that momentum in HR tech is continuing to grow rapidly. A key indicator of this is that investors are showing no signs of slowing their interest in this market and organisations themselves are seeing that in order to increase efficiency, employee productivity and engagement, and better predict future talent trends internally, they too must invest and evolve in this area.