The Coming Disruption in HR

By Dean E. Carter, Vice President HR & Shared Services, Patagonia

Dean E. Carter, Vice President HR & Shared Services, Patagonia

Independent Director – Cornerstone on Demand (CSOD)

The rise of HR technology has now moved almost all traditional HR processes to the digital platform. The challenge has been that most of the HR tools were aimed only at supporting the HR business partners or management. With evolution, these tools now focus more on the end users, offering intuitive user experiences that range from the highly administrative (like requesting employee time) to more advanced data on individual learning or performance. Plus, HR technology today is providing insights that were previously hidden or extremely expensive to track.

In effect, HR technology is removing traditional intermediaries and accelerating both development and performance. Instead of data being transmitted primarily to HR, it is now provided directly to individuals and their respective managers. This creates a real change in how technology helps people understand their performance, connect to the crowd, and get their administrative tasks done in real time. This also allows a more rich and insight driven relationship with HR business partners versus previous more transactional exchanges. This evolution will continue with the increasing use of AI and Machine Learning–and it’s critical that HR professionals, managers and technologists prepare for and are in front of these advances.

The Future of Mobility

Managers are no more employees’ single lifeline to information, performance, and learning. With individual insights, feedback and information readily available on mobile devices, many traditional structures and processes are rapidly becoming irrelevant. At Patagonia, we have empowered employees to leverage mobile tools for transparent goal-setting, performance improvement, crowd-sourced feedback, and individualized learning. The trend towards individually tailored, mobile-enabled systems will certainly continue. At some point, it’s likely that enhanced awareness of personal behaviors such as sleep, movement, and diet could have a greater impact on approaches to individual performance.

"The goal of technology is to bring out the best in everybody"


Well-being Culture

Technology advances can have a two-edged sword. They could be used to determine how we can squeeze out more engagement and productivity– or leveraged to improved the lives and well-being of our employees. Of course, you can likely guess where we lean at Patagonia. By leveraging technology to be more efficient at work means we have more time with family, on the slopes or in the water. For us, the goal of HR technology is to bring out the best in our folks so they can do more of the things they are passionate about–whether that’s a job well done or more opportunity to enjoy the beautiful and wild places we love.

Tackling Challenges

One of the biggest challenges for HR professionals is the shifting mindset of today’s businesses. In the past, we were looking for all the reports and information that was available within the traditional HRIS. And your HRI Scan still provide regular, helpful and solid data. The competitive advantage occurs when you use technology find something new that no one else is measuring–to predict attrition, performance or engagement in a way that no one else has discovered. That is competitive advantage. HR organizations that are using technology track the things that no one else is tracking can provide unique insights competitors are missing or still seeking within the columns of an HRIS data dump. These are the HR leaders that are going to be highly valued by their CEO and their partners—combining data driven insights and a solid professional understanding of the human spirit. HR leaders should continually evolve their mindset with emerging technologies— or we may find an entire profession disrupted.

The Expert Advice

Sure—do benchmarking–everyone else is. But the REAL advantage comes from learning the things that no one else is learning or thinking about

Check out: Top HR Technology Companies in APAC

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