Q & A with Mark Smith, CEO and Chief Research Officer of Ventana Research
According to Ventana’s next-generation benchmark research, 51% organizations are still using spreadsheets to manage HR information. Of those with talent management systems, fewer than a third have integrated their HR systems, and most managers are still tethered to desktop applications, with no mobile tools to enable them to handle talent acquisition or talent management while on the move.
This persistent technology gap adds up to hours and hours of lost productivity, and organizations know it. More than 27% are looking to technology to improve efficiency—not just of HR but of the workforce as a whole.
Mark Smith, CEO and Chief Research Officer and his company, Ventana Research, annually release what may be the longest running and most consistent research in these areas—featuring a wealth of insights into what organizations should be doing versus what they actually may be doing.
During our conversation we discussed questions important to every HR leader:
- How can HR enable organizations to improve talent productivity?
- Why should we believe more technology will help?
- What are the consequences of delaying?
Placing Conversations in Context
Among many insights for HR teams looking to close the technology gap, Smith notes that it’s all about the context.
Success requires “examining how applications work in the specific technology and workforce environments of the organization, who uses them and how they use them to accomplish their goals.” By examining how individuals communicate and collaborate among peers and managers, organizations can identify the talent management solutions that will facilitate interactions and increase productivity.
“Communication and interaction today are about far more than messaging and chatting,” says Smith. “Conversations must be placed in context.”
3 Steps to Close the HR Tech Gap and Boost Productivity
So what if you’re one of those organizations still relying on spreadsheets? Where do you to start?
- Assess your talent management readiness – Not just your processes, applications, and technology, but also the strengths and weaknesses of how you operate today. And not just from HR’s perspective but across the organization. Ask managers and employees what it would take to engage them and to increase productivity of talent across the organization. You might wind up with a lengthy list: Take the time to prioritize the feedback so you can tackle immediate talent needs first.
- Choose new HR applications that can adapt and scale – Make sure applications you adopt can be personalized to individual and departmental needs. And make sure they offer configuration options to enable them to meet your needs today and in the future.
- Follow best practices in change management – Once you’ve identified your priority needs and selected a solution that works in your unique context, successful adoption is a case study in change management. Educate and guide your employees through the change management process. Embrace best practices that will increase engagement of workers and managers alike, and track them through to the outcomes that benefit both individual careers and the strength of your organization.
Keep Existing Investments in Mind, but Don’t Delay
No matter what technologies you select to deploy, moving from where you are today to where you need to be tomorrow is “no simple switch to throw,” says Smith. For that reason, organizations should demand that “any technology you evaluate will work with and extend existing investments until they are ready to be retired.”
Even so, waiting is not an option, says Smith.
"Every organization must have a talent-centric focus and use centralized processes and applications that work together."