Is software about to eat HR? The question, raised in a LinkedIn forum, was in reference to to Marc Andreesen’s iconic comment, “Software is eating the world.”Andreessen said that not only are more and more businesses being run on software but entire industries are being disrupted by software. So what about human resources? Is software, and all the “disruption” it brings, about to swallow up HR?
Here’s the deal. And you can repeat after me. Human resources is about humans. HR, after all, exists in order to connect the capabilities of individual employees to the success of the organization. The success of any human resources strategy and its successful execution hinges on people.
Even when we bring software into the mix (and I do love technology!) that software still requires human beings to (a) use it and (b) interpret the data it produces. Software will never remove the need for human resources pros to observe, assess, analyze, make decisions, and take appropriate action.
But... Software will Change HR
Software will, however, forever change HR. It already has.
I’ve been working as an HR professional since the mid 1980’s. In the early years of my career, we had file cabinets stuffed with paper, used index cards to maintain data on employees who had terminated decades ago (after their personnel folders were purged), and communicated with our applicants via letters formatted on typewriters. Software liberated us.
The necessity to do these things still exists of course but task completion is easier, faster, and much more seamless. We’ve eradicated the frequency of errors primarily because we’ve eliminated the necessity of having 4 people enter the same-information into multiple systems.
Effective use of technology and software has allowed HR professionals to unshackle themselves from the administrative (but still necessary!) duties and has provided them with time to focus on providing true value. HR professionals now have the TIME to support and enable the execution of strategy. We have the opportunity to focus on why we exist—developing employee potential and connecting individual strengths, contributions, and capabilities to the achievement of company goals.
Software won’t displace HR professionals, although there may be changes in the staffing of an HR function as different skills and competencies are required. Yet, even as this occurs, the shift simultaneously provides HR professionals with new opportunities.
HR strategy can’t be outsourced nor can the support and nurturing of the culture. These require in-house expertise. HR professionals who are skilled in human resources as well as business operations and who understand strategy and change management can build wildly successful careers.
Software won’t destroy HR or its transformation. Software will, however, support the evolution.