RoboHR: The Future of HR… Now (Embracing the HRTech Imperative) | ロボHR:HRの未来のために今こそ (HR技術の要請を受け止める)

Originally written in English

This article first published at The HR Agenda Magazine [March-June 2017 issue].

The future of work is here, and it continues to supercharge toward a more tech-oriented direction. Are you ready for the future of HRTech today?

In the 1980s, “RoboCop” blasted its way into Hollywood screens and made box office killings. This sci-fi movie tells the story of Michigan policeman Alex Murphy, shot to death by a gang of criminals and later resurrected – after an evil and greedy corporation replaced all his damaged body parts with robotic or technology-enabled substitutes.

In essence, it was a modern version of Mary Shelly’s “Frankenstein.”Only this time, the hero was reconstructed not with a hodgepodge of organic human parts but with cold metal and cutting-edge science and technology, radically transforming an ordinary person into a high-tech crime-fighting machine.

HRTech Defined

After three decades since the release of the movie, the same can be said to be happening in the field of human resources management. Today, the use of technology in HR processes continues to become increasingly popular, widespread, and more of an imperative rather than a choice.

We even have a new term for this practice: HRTech. Loosely defined, HRTech is the application of technology in partially or completely carrying out traditional HR services such as recruiting, performance management, rewards and remuneration, learning and development, career and succession planning, and employee engagement, retention, and exit.

The 3Ms and the New Normal: Ingredients for HRTech

In his latest book entitled “Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Acceleration,” Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and best-selling author Thomas Friedman argues that three biggest forces on the planet today are moving full-speed ahead, all at the same time. These forces are also called the three Ms: Moore’s law (technology), the Market (globalization), and Mother Nature (climate change and biodiversity loss).

As a result of these three-way accelerations, the realms of the workplace, politics, geopolitics, ethics and community are all being transformed at a dizzying pace and to a shape and form that can only be called as “the new normal.”

If Friedman’s assertions are correct (and it seems that they are), then it is no wonder that we are now seeing the advent of HRTech in the workplace and in the process also transforming the practice of HR itself.

The 5 Trends Shaping the Future of Work

The Rise of the RoboHRs

Indeed, it’s an exciting time to be in HR or to be an HR professional now as this age arguably marks the dawn of a new breed of HR professionals… the RoboHRs.

However, you might argue that you don’t want to become a RoboHR as the term connotes a somewhat negative meaning: an HR professional who acts like a robot devoid of independent thinking, creativity and innovative capacities.

Hence, I’d like to define RoboHR as an HR professional who leverages technology to deliver HR services faster, cheaper and more accurately while at the same time executing its “prime directive” to deliver business results through people. That is, by leveraging technology, HR professionals should be able to free up their time from mundane, administrative or transactional HR activities and redirect their energies to more strategic roles such as being an organizational coach, advisor, mentor and business partner.

As such, the more relevant question that HR professionals should be asking ourselves is not whether technology will make us like robots but rather, “How can HR ‘humanize’ technology itself so we can best serve the needs of the workforce?”

That question can lead us toward a direction much like the ending of the original “RoboCop” movie, where Officer Alex Murphy, after going through a series of internal struggles, adjustments, and fine tuning, eventually became successful in infusing some of his humanity underneath his high-tech armor.

In this issue of The HR Agenda, we are truly privileged and honored to once again bring together subject matter experts and key opinion leaders in HRTech to share their latest thoughts and thinking on the topic. Get ready to read articles on how automation, robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), cloud computing, and other related developments are transforming and shaping the future of the world of work, the workforce and consequently that of HR, not at some distant future but literally… now.