Technology As An Enabler Or Replacement of HR Functions

Technology supports and immeasurably enhances


Smartphones and tablets have transformed our interactions with, and expectations of, technology; firstly as consumers, and increasingly, as workers. This revolution is profoundly affecting what employees expect from technologies at work.

Any discussion of technology in the workplace today -- especially as it relates to the talent management arena -- must consider its two-fold dimension:

  1. The enterprise technologies that organisations need to run their operations; and
  2. The consumer technologies that employees demand access to as part of their workplace experience.

Enterprise Technologies in the Workplace

In a study conducted of multinational corporations (MNCs) in Southeast Asia, it was found that, while most MNCs now utilise a suite of different enterprise talent management technologies, every organisation is on a journey toward enhancing the effectiveness of their technology infrastructure.

In Southeast Asia, there remains an enormous divergence in the sophistication of technology platforms accessed by MNCs. In the study, not a single contributor was prepared to rate their talent management technologies as currently optimal. Not one. Most said their systems were either a work in progress or far from effective. The exploding popularity and heightened expectations surrounding the use of cloud, social, mobile and big data capabilities may be the critical factors that ultimately drive organisations to overhaul their talent management technologies.

Consumer Technologies in the Workplace

Meanwhile, the growth trajectory and predictions for consumer technology usage in Southeast Asia are nothing short of breathtaking. The region abounds with digital natives and has one of the most tech-savvy and smart device-equipped populations in the world. In fact, Southeast Asia is renowned for leapfrogging to mobile -- many Internet users have never owned or used a desktop computer. They have gone straight to mobile devices.

Generation Y employees in particular fully expect to be able to interchange between their professional and personal lives throughout the day. Restrictions on being able to use their devices at work exposes two risks for employers -- reduced employee engagement leading to lower productivity and security risks as employees bypass restrictions and access their devices anyway.

Leveraging Talent Management Technologies

In a world where allocating the right talent to the right situation in the right location at the right time is business-critical, technology continues to be one of the most important levers available to HR and to business.

Talent management technologies are an essential tool for MNCs managing large and geographically dispersed workforces. More than 75% of our contributors rated the need to have integrated talent management processes and systems as business-critical. It is impossible to gain a holistic view of global workforce requirements, capabilities, performance and aspirations without state-of-the-art integrated technologies.

Here are some must-haves for MNCs to stay ahead of the game:

  • Cloud-based Software-as-a-Service solutions
  • Mobile and social functionality, which should be a standard requirement in technology vendor selection
  • Effective adoption by managers and employees, critical to ensuring the technology is indeed an enabler
  • Decision-enabling analytics, vital to tracking, measuring and predicting employee performance
  • An effective support model, which provides organisations with the right level of technology support
  • Localized compliance, reflecting regional regulations and allowing for adequate flexibility and cultural adaptation
  • A simple and engaging platform, which functions effectively, is accessible via mobile and social and caters to the local user experience including, local languages and time zones
  • Borderless teams, which facilitate sharing and collaboration -- especially important in Southeast Asia
  • Mobile apps, which facilitate real-time talent management across borders and in remote locations

Technology as an Enabler in the Workplace

Without question, technology is revolutionising how, where and when people work, rest and play. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Asian region, where a young workforce is ready, willing and able to harness technology’s capabilities to enhance their learning and career progression and balance their work and life commitments.

For all the hype, progress, and associated opportunities and challenges, however, technology remains an enabler for human resources. Underlying all the functional improvements that technology can bring, leaders still need to provide direction and clarity, managers still need to engage and communicate with their teams, and employees still need to connect with their work and colleagues. No amount of technological advancement will replace these human fundamentals.

Technology certainly supports and immeasurably enhances almost every conceivable HR practice. But, in the field of human resources, the human element can never be underestimated.


Anthony J James is Chief Innovation & Growth Officer @ DDB, he is a C-Level, international marketing transformation executive specialising in creative, digital, brand positioning, and innovative global B2B and B2C solutions focussed on GROWTH. With deep experience across Asia Pacific, Middle East & Europe plus high-growth emerging markets.

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