Marc is Founder & CEO of HRN, HR Tech World, disruptHR and iRecruit.

Leadership, Talent and Transformation/Change remain’s top of the HR agenda since we started the Pan European HR Network over 3 years ago now. The change comes in the shape of unrelenting growth, disruption and the appetite in the sector for the next generation of HR, Learning and Recruitment Strategies and Technologies. A new world of work embedded in Social, Collaborative and Mobile capability is transforming how employees are better enabled to do their jobs better, faster and cheaper.

The laws of the current economy – Better, Faster, Cheaper are long at play which has meant businesses and HR are now quick to make investments in the Next Generation of HR Technology for competitive advantage. From the elements, better, faster, cheaper  ….. the big data buzz is for me one of the key game changers for HR ( …… despite the occasional flatulence from the silver surfing management gurus whom have past their sell by date), offering unique insights, projections and patterns into your people business (rather than copying, perhaps plagiarizing, benchmarking or following competitors/what everyone else is doing in the marketplace).

Pumping new DNA into your HR Function doesn’t start with a bunch of the best HR people in the World – its where they come from ….. who puts them in the room ….. the diversity of viewpoints …… putting the right people with the right experiences, competencies and aspirations in that room that will allow for the what next ……. and projecting talent into the right areas of your business at the right time!

In light of the massive disruption and momentum taking place in the HR industry, I am really looking forward to Jeremy Shapiro’s keynote at HR Tech Europe Spring Warm-Up.  Jeremy is Group Executive Director of Talent Intelligence at Morgan Stanley’s office in New York. Jeremy joins us in London on the 19-20 March for an update on his October 2010 HBR Article written 2.5 years ago with Big Data Guru – Tom Davenport – Competing on Talent Analytics.

The question I have of all of this – are HR really going to up-skill on measurement, metrics, big data, people analytic’s or is it a case of what I have mentioned above? The careful engineering and splicing of data scientists, mathematicians, strategic finance, process and change skills, etc. into the HR gene pool? I think so, I hope we’ve learned our lessons, the HR Business Partner adoption of the last 20 years still has less than 15% adoption across Europe – the idea that old school HR will go to a sales meetings with sales directors to better understand the business has not worked so well (the opposite has – sales leaders moving into HR) mostly it has been a change of job title on the new business cards, which have also become redundant. What has worked particularly well is the splicing DNA in from other parts of the business and also giving the global function the diversity needed to innovate, change and transform.

The past decade was ….. the HR Function being designed by HR, the current decade, the HR Function is being designed by the business and its employees.

We heard Thomas Otter from Gartner last year, highlighting some of their research on procurement working alongside HR, that when procurement are involved in signing HR Technology contracts, it saves employers on average 30%. Imagine, a massive (or complex) hiring campaign in your business and a data scientist being able to tell what job complexities and costs are across 50 European countries …. the level of competition for those skills in those countries ….. average time to hire … what your competitors are doing ……  recruitment capabilities in those countries x languages ….. projected skills needed further into the project/job ….. – how much better, faster and cheaper would the hiring and decision making process be if you had these real time insights? In the short term and long term. Word on the street is that LinkedIn is quietly developing software for some time now, a software that understands companies employees better than their employers – behaviors, learning, performance hot spots, high attrition rates, engagement levels, interests, skills and competencies, experiences v jobs being advertised, etc.

Additionally, one of our growing observations as a networker, researcher and event organizer is that benchmarking risks making companies more alike and more ordinary ( … this is “oh so true” of Europe) . Everyone is looking for the innovators, the marketeers, the Sales Superstars …. HR Departments need to look and feel like their business, they also need to understand what differentiates, innovates and drives the business forward – one size does not fit all. The reality today is that in a world of increasing transparency and democracy, HR has to know the answers to the bigger people questions linked to the business – that means having the right data, and having the right analysis/insight of that information in real-time at the leadership table.

I have developed some level of immunity now and so it doesn’t surprise me on research calls anymore, what we have coined HR = Hardly Relevant’s (we are HR’s biggest supporters but do find occasion to join the bashing), when asking a question as simple as what are the biggest opportunities (or challenges) facing your HR function right now … if they can’t be rattled off, they shouldn’t be there …. the same applies to all functions. The laws of nature tend to take their place over time.

It is our experience that its not just the changing technologies that are driving our industry for change, rather business leaders’ shifting perceptions and experience with the HR Function. Change has been the only constant since the recession began, we see more and more HR Functions being resourced as once imagined, enabling HR to really impact the bottom line.

Big Data is here to stay. On scale of 1-10 (10 being excellent), most HR departments in Europe are sitting on 1, that means you have time to strategize and plan about how to make the most effective use of the people data in your business, you shouldn’t buzzword around with it though, because if, and when your competitors do get ahead they are likely to stay ahead for some time – it shouldn’t be too difficult to imagine with such capabilities that they will probably know more about your business and talent than your company knows, LinkedIn already do!

Marc Coleman is director of the Pan European HR Network. You can connect with Marc on twitter @HRNEurope or via LinkedIn. Recent productions include: HR Tech Europe, iRecruit, Next Gen Talent, iHR Awards and Social Enterprise. Build good-smart connections by joining Europe’s largest Corporate HR Network – Please feel free to visit the Pan European HR Network’s Groups on LinkedIn.

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