Digital Technology: Demand Is Transforming HR

By Jill Goldstein Feb 6, 2015
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HRIT managers face a fresh set of opportunities and challenges as a result of rapidly evolving digital technology.

Employees are bringing their consumer-based expectations into the workplace, and, as a result, organizations are under pressure to adapt how they interact with customers and manage their operations and staffs.

However, embracing the rise of digital technology is still a big step for many HR business process outsourcing (BPO) buyers and service providers. As a result, many outsourcing engagements have remained stuck in the analog world—rather like employing a rotary telephone, when everyone else is using a smartphone.

According to global business services and outsourcing company HfS Research, two-thirds of today’s BPO engagements are simply transferred to an external provider with little added value. Buyers are not satisfied. According to HfS, most of those surveyed said they expect to undertake a wide-scale transformation of their business processes through the greater use of technology within the next two years.

So, how can outsourcers and buyers step up to take advantage of the opportunities that innovative digital technologies offer?

By automating standardized processes and workflows, enabling processing in the cloud, optimiz­ing analytics and embracing mobility for rapid implementation and payback.

Four key components are needed for high-performance digital operations and HR services:

A resilient digital platform that is secure, available on demand, and easy to set up and use.

The digital platform is at the heart of HR operations. Dynamic, accessible and continuous, it must have the ability to respond rapidly to changing developments in the career marketplace and within the business. With the increasing frequency of updates and the likelihood of cyberattacks, service providers must focus even more on building secure, scalable and agile systems.

Fewer people work in one place from 9 to 5. As a result, an always-on HR platform is necessary to accommodate a distributed workforce. The platform must be intuitive and accessible to all of its users from a variety of mobile devices.

Anywhere, anytime digital insights that improve business performance.

Advanced HR analytics technologies enable buyers and service providers to move beyond traditional reporting capabilities that merely reveal what happened to their talent management or recruitment efforts. Predictive analytics can move a business from a reactive to a proactive state, allowing buyers to look around the bend and see what’s coming next. Digital operations enable the use of both internal and external talent and development data, providing a richer context for interpretation and action. This means taking data from throughout the enterprise and turning it into useful information to obtain actionable results.

In HR, embracing analytics is critical. There is a war for talent, particularly in areas such as digital marketing, IT security and programming. Businesses rely on digital insights to show them how their brand is perceived by the public and by specific audiences of potential employees, as well as to inform recruiters where the talent is lo­cated. Systems today also help recruiters identify the profile of an ideal candidate for strong retention and performance, as well as to predict the likelihood of candidates accepting a job and arriving on their first day. Today’s technology helps give key managers much better insights for their decisions.

A platform connecting digital information workers, using advanced monitoring, search and analytic tools.

This gives connected workers everything they need to complete tasks, including training and reference materials, access to peers and supervisors, instant availability of tools, and required information. With the platform and its applications anticipating the needs of workers and placing social media and collaborative tools at the ready, the experience becomes seamless from start to finish. It transforms how work is conducted and changes the nature of the work in a way that heavily influences employee engagement and retention. As a result of these connected digital capabilities (which may include relevant content from blogs, websites and forums), those working on HR BPO engagements become “information detectives” and “continuous improve­ment specialists,” rather than transaction processors.

A digital innovation ecosystem with multiple partners, consultants, developers and vendors.

Neither HR BPO buyer nor service provider can sustain high performance without relying on others across the business and technology ecosystem. These relationships enable both parties to know what new tools and technologies are in the marketplace or in development that may improve productivity and time-to-results.

Working with multiple partners also ensures stability and breadth of coverage. While it’s impossible to predict the future, having a broad range of options on systems enables much more reliable success and progress.

Jill Goldstein leads Accenture’s Talent & HR Operations practice. She can be reached at

©2015. International Association for Human Resource Information Management. Used with permission.

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