DNA Of HR Function Is Being Rewritten With Technology: Oracle

The workforce needs to be equipped with multiple skill sets and even multiple career transitions if need be. Employees who are not upskilling themselves are facing the brunt of the situation


In an interview with Shaakun Khanna, Head of HCM Applications, Asia Pacific, Oracle, shares specific insights into six seismic shifts in HR tech, that have resulted in modern-day data-driven HR. 

Can you talk about the tectonic shifts in the role of HR? Why are these factors important?

HR looks at technology as a tool to solve problems, albeit retroactively. From the automation of ‘Time & Attendance’ capturing to enabling modern-day learning, adoption of HR technology has been triggered by challenges that needed resolution. HR has so far has also been insulated from disruptions. Emerging technologies and experience economy has created enterprise applications that are changing the workplace. HR Tech has also shifted its course to become the most potent tool of mitigating business disruptions. The DNA of HR as a function is being re-written – rewritten with technology. Broadly, some of the shifts are as following:

  • Shift 1: Enablement to experience - Experience Economy is all about delivering an exceptional experience to your customers. Same experience needs to be delivered to your internal customers – your employees.
  • Shift 2: Analytics to insights - Modern businesses don’t expect HR to provide data or its analysis. They seek actionable insights that can help them solve emerging business problems.
  • Shift 3: On-demand to proactive - Moving from on-demand service delivery to proactive employee delight, it will need artfully create consumer-grade HR applications that will work on the principles of digital marketing.  
  • Shift 4: Integrated to Embedded - Modern-day employee experience and organizational enablement are possible by using a strong foundation that has the best of technologies ‘embedded’ and NOT integrated.
  • Shift 5: Artificial intelligence to adaptive intelligence - The right HR technology must use adaptive intelligence to ensure that the systems, processes, languages, and experiences are all tailored for the organization– proactively
  • Shift 6: Friendly UI to no UI - Most Digital HR initiatives have become glorified UI upgrades. However, the lack of natural language processing will render such applications useless. Digital HR platform needs to be innately designed to work with natural language processing.[1]

We are living in dichotomous times, where people are looking for jobs, whereas companies are looking for a qualified workforce. How do you think technology can help these organizations to fill in this gap?

We are facing a unique situation of dichotomy where the automation is taking up the repetitive jobs, hence resulting in the lesser workforce and yet the companies are not able to get key talent for specialized jobs. As per Manpower Employee Outlook Survey this quester, the net employment outlook is 24 percent, which essentially means that 24 percent of the companies are looking at hiring more people which results in a higher level of competition for existing employee base. In India, 45 percent of the talent is active talent – employees who are actively looking out for jobs. These people are easy to reach out to when organizations are hiring or scouting for talent. The balance 55 percent workforce is where the war of talent is happening. 

There is another aspect of this challenge is the workforce. Bots may have started doing some work, but we still need people to make and control those bots. The workforce needs to be equipped with multiple skill sets and even multiple career transitions if need be. Employees who are not upskilling themselves are facing the brunt of the situation. Hence, we are facing this dichotomy. 

Organizations need to look at intuitive technology and systems to first find the right people, engage them proactively, use ways and means to predict their fitment and attract them when the need comes. They must focus on candidate experience as it is going to be the single most critical factor. Like customers, candidates today have multiple choices and will choose the organization that provides the best experience throughout the employee life cycle. This would require organizations to provide them proactive information at the correct time. Onboarding plays an important role in deciding the longevity of a candidate’s tenure in an organization. Companies today need technology and process to make people productive as soon as possible in the best possible manner. 

Do you have any customer examples, where technology has helped them to navigate the digital changes safely?

As the country's second-largest credit card issuer, SBI Card is accelerating India’s transition into a cashless economy with innovative products and services. While doing they have gone through a fair share of upheavals owing to the demerger process. With Oracle HCM solution, they have been able to manage the entire lifecycle of an employee from appointment to retirement in a simpler and more efficient fashion. Earlier they used to have almost 34 different systems, whereas now they have one consolidated system. With the adoption of the cloud, they need not worry about system upgrades and maintenance issues as well. 

Sandhar Technologies attach great importance to the development of their key resource – their People. They wanted to offer learning and leadership opportunities at each step to their people to take their development to the next level. To provide all our employees with equal opportunities, they needed to have real-time visibility into employee data, which was becoming a challenge owing to people present in various geographies. Oracle HCM cloud gave them a single source of information for all employee information and entire Talent management which includes recruiting, goals and goal library, performance and compensation. 

HR has come a long way from being the owner of excel sheets to be a strategic partner of management. How do you think technology has helped in this transition?

HR business function has been the first adopter of innovations on the process or technology front. Digital HR Transformation means the creation of a Digital Enterprise which caters to the Future of Work by deploying a Digital Workforce enabled by a Digital Workplace. Digital Workplace is the inevitable shift to next-gen technologies encompassing Cloud, Mobility, Robotic Process Automation, Conversational AI, Machine Learning, Analytics and Insights, Gamification, and IoT, all of which are the building blocks for enhancing employee experience. Every organization working in a highly competitive market is required to redraw its focus towards Employee Experience to maximize productivity.

In this highly competitive market, the organisations need to have HCM solutions that cover all dimensions of a Cloud, Cognitive and Connected solutions. It needs to have standard cloud offerings such as Global HR, Talent Management, Rewards, Workforce Management, Work-Life Solutions, and Analytics, but also need to make investments towards providing a robust platform for building Chatbots, advanced AI, Analytics and IoT solutions on top of HCM to upgrade user experience.

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