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Disruptive HR Technologies Don't Have to be Disruptive The term conjures visions of professional and organizational chaos, even disaster, but that needn't be the case, and the rewards can be tangible.

By Charles Cagle Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


"Are disruptive technologies worth the disruption they cause?" is a question many HR professionals ask themselves when they hear promises of industry-changing technology.

Although "disruptive technology" may sound intimidating, the term actually applies to the high impact it has, not the deployment process. In fact, some disruptive technologies can be implemented with minimal interference to daily routines, yet offer high levels of operational gains. Cloud deployment, social and collaborative tools, and predictive analytics are among the high-impact disruptive technologies which can be embraced by HR leaders, without fear of being buried in never-ending process management loops.

The age of transformation.

Technological change has driven new business implementations for the past decade. HR professionals today are bombarded with news accounts and analyst reports on the waves of disruptive technologies hitting the industry like mobile apps, analytic tools for people and data, and ever-evolving social networking platforms. This isn't always perceived as good news by those who are fully entrenched in their current processes and workflows, especially if they seem to be operating with an acceptable degree of success.

The term "disruptive technologies" can be worrisome, conjuring up images of operational chaos. The pessimists easily envision workflows being abruptly halted and daily routines shattered, leaving personnel confused and disgruntled. It's not likely, however, that the phrase "disruptive technologies" was coined with the intent of scaring HR, but rather to describe new technologies that are expected to totally change operations and the underlying mindset, creating a lasting, positive transformation.

Related: The Idea That Disruption Is Dead Is a Myth

Change does not have to be painful.

While change does not have be something that is feared, it does need to be managed. Well-orchestrated change management or project management leads to smooth deployment of new systems. The value of change management surged in the 80s and 90s as countless numbers of books, seminars and training sessions were created on this topic. It is quite likely that every HR executive over the age of 50 has participated in at least one change management workshop.

Today, we still talk about the importance of change agents in an organization and place high value on continual improvement. We track performance indicators so that we manage operations, finding opportunities to change practices for the better. Sometimes, small changes make big impacts, as we have learned through these exercises.

A transformation—whether scaled down or extensive—does not have to be painful either. An underlying strategy helps keep the transformation controlled, measured, and manageable. Project managers, technology officers, change agents, talent science managers, and purveyors of the company culture all play a role in creating a landscape that is conducive to positive transformations and out-of-the-box thinking.

Related: Want a Huge Boost in Efficiency? Make Some Small Changes.

Disruption can be rewarding.

As organizations consider investing in new HR technologies—whether ones being launched today or on the horizon--it is important to weigh the potential gains and look beyond the obvious financial considerations. Rewards can take the shape of many positives, including productivity, ease of use, reliability, and greater visibility. While it is hard to assign a dollar savings to some abstract gains, those benefits do need to be considered.

Predictive analytics is one of those disruptive technologies that promises big impact, without major interruption to existing systems and workflows. By measuring the cognitive and behavioral characteristics of candidates, predictive analytics empowers HR organizations to truly identify best-fit employees, and then integrate the data gathered during the analysis process into other core HR systems for a holistic picture across the employee lifecycle. This insight is key in ensuring that employees get the appropriate onboarding materials, the critical learning and growth opportunities they need for success, and in facilitating ongoing engagement that helps to increase productivity, while reducing turnover.

Related: HR Analytics: How Should Big Data Be Used in the Workplace?

Final Take-Aways.

Disruptive HR technologies will continue to be touted in newsletter headlines and analyst reports. This is an age of rampant change with new IT solutions being developed at breakneck speed with super-power impact. It is up to HR professionals to research and understand the true value of each—and they should also remember that just because a new technology is labeled "disruptive" it doesn't have be painful to deploy. Change is often a very good, welcome thing. Thinking out of the box and continuous improvement are always good things, good for HR, personnel and profitability. Sometimes, it just takes a brave, bold mindset to take advantage of the many disruptive technologies being introduced. Go ahead, make the leap from traditional HR to the next generation of technologies.

Charles Cagle

Senior Vice President at Infor

Charles Cagle is Infor’s senior vice president of human capital management (hcm) development, strategy and operations, where he focuses on building, servicing and supporting high-quality cloud scale solutions within several key areas of HCM. Cagle has more than 25 years of experience building next-generation enterprise business systems. Prior to Infor, he ran IT strategy and software quality management practices for some of the world’s premier consulting firms.

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