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How tech and data will change HR in 2017

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During 2017, we expect to see HR departments turn to technology to automate more of their work and to become more data-driven in their decision-making. ANJA VAN BEEK, of Sage outlines six trends.

Some of the key trends for this year are as follows:

1.     The mobile device will the HR department’s most imperative touchpoint

From recruiting talent to interacting with employees, the mobile phone is becoming the most important HR touchpoint for job candidates, employees, managers and other stakeholders. Today’s employees and jobseekers want it to be as convenient and easy to deal with an employer as it is to bank online or via a mobile app. Employers who want to attract young talent should make sure that their online job advertising and application processes are seamless, convenient and optimised for mobile devices.

Many companies already allow employees to use mobile apps to file expense reports and leave applications, change personal details, and access their payslips. In future, employees will increasingly access career and training information, performance feedback, and other important data from mobile apps. Such apps must be attractive, easy to use, and functional so that users will love coming back to them.

Managers will also want to be able to access information such as performance reviews from their smartphones.

2.     Data will drive decision-making

HR is about to change dramatically with data analytics becoming a way of life for HR directors and HR managers.

As HR professionals have more data (gathered through digital interfaces like employee self-service) about employees and the business at their fingertips than ever before; they will begin to use analytics to make better decisions and to shape superior employee experiences.

Data will help HR and the business to answer questions such as:

·         Where did we find the best hires for our business, i.e. top performers who have we retained for a good while?

·         How many people will we need in our service department to support our forecasted revenue growth of 10% for the next financial year?

·         What are the possible reasons for high employee turnover in the call centre?

·         What skills gaps do we have in our organisation?

3.     Integrated HR systems will stretch from recruitment to performance management

We are seeing the worlds of payroll, HR and business management solutions move closer together as organisations adopt integrated solutions to gain better control over their workforce costs and create stronger engagement with employees. One benefit lies in the fact that data and transactions don’t need to be captured multiple times across different business applications.

In addition, such systems give HR teams a complete view of their relationships with employees, from on-boarding to engagement, talent development and performance management. This empowers HR to react to the needs of the workforce and the business in a more agile manner.

4.     Performance management is changing

We have seen a lot of discussion in the past year or two about the value of annual performance reviews, and many large organisations around the world have streamlined performance management or even done away with annual reviews. Though I don’t foresee most companies scrapping annual reviews, I expect that performance management will change to cater for a changing work world.

We’ll see companies give employees feedback more frequently, perhaps each month or even each week, rather than once a year. This will help managers and employers to constantly monitor performance, identify challenges and opportunities and recalibrate employees’ alignment with its strategic objective. Annual reviews are useful in this regard, but they’re not frequent enough in a business world where the pace of change is so fast.

5.     Online recruitment will continue to take over

Recent research by the Society of Human Resource Management shows that in the past five years, recruitment using social media has increased by 54%, with one out of five candidates applying for a job through social channels.

There are many tools that can streamline the recruitment process, from managing job applicants and filtering CVs, to interviewing and screening candidates, and right up to the on-boarding process. Though the human touch will always be important in HR, companies will extend their tools such as online applicant tracking, talent communities, social media and internal career portals.

Online platforms such as Sage SkillsMap give organisations direct access to people in Africa and abroad who are looking for jobs, as well as the tools they need to publish their jobs to the Web and track the applications they receive. These tools help automate a lot of the paperwork for them, while providing access to high-quality candidates.

6.     Employer branding will be a focus

According to a recent EY Sub-Saharan Talent Trends and Practices Survey, the strength of the employer brand is the most important factor in attracting talent. Companies must focus on creating a positive culture; a quality workplace and a good employee experience since employees value this as much as they do money. Given that top professionals in most fields can choose where they work, employers need to sell their workplace experience and the benefits they offer to employees with as much enthusiasm as marketing departments sell the company’s products and services.

* Anja van Beek, Vice President for People (HR), Sage International (Africa, Middle East, Asia & Australia)

 

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Gadget goes to Hollywood

Gadget visited the Netflix studios last week. In the first of a series, ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK talks to CEO Reed Hastings.

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Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is no stranger to Africa. He has travelled throughout South Africa, taught maths in Swaziland for two years with the Peace Corps, and visits close family in Maputo. As a result, he is keenly aware of the South African entertainment and connectivity landscape.

In an exclusive interview at the Netflix studios in Hollywood, Los Angeles, last week, he revealed that Netflix had no intentions of challenging MultiChoice’s dominance of live sports broadcasting on the continent.

“Other firms will do sport and news; we are trying to focus on movies and TV shows,” he said. “There are a lot of areas that are video that we are not doing: sports, news, video gaming, user-generated content. We don’t have live sport.

Reed Hastings at the Netflix studios in Hollywood last week. Pic: ADAM ROSE

“We’re not replacing MultiChoice at all. Their subscriber growth is steady in South Africa. They serve a need that’s independent of the Internet, via low-price satellite. There is no intention of capturing that audience. If they’re growing, it’s because they serve a need.”

While Reed ruled out any collaboration with MultiChoice on its satellite delivery platform, despite its collaboration with another pay-TV service, Sky TV in the United Kingdom, he did not close the door. He stressed that Netflix saw itself as an Internet-based service, and would pursue the opportunities offered by evolving broadband in Africa.

“If you look in other markets like the USA, how Comcast carries us on set-top boxes with their other services, it could happen with MultiChoice, the same as with all the pay-TV providers.

“We’re really focused on being a service over the Internet and not over satellite. Our service doesn’t work on satellite. Where we work with Sky is on Internet-connected devices. We’re happy to work on Internet-connected devices. We tend to work on smart TVs, but need broadband Internet for that.

“Broadband is getting faster in Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa – we can see the positive trendlines – so it’s more likely we will work with broadband Internet companies.”

Hastings is a firm believer in the idea that one content provider’s success does not depend on pushing another down.

“HBO has grown at the same time as we have, so can see our success doesn’t determine their success. What matters is amazing content with which the world falls in love.”

Click here to read about Netflix’s international expansion, and how the streaming service selects content for its platform.

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Take these 5 steps to digital

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By MARK WALKER, Associate Vice President for Sub-Saharan Africa at IDC Middle East, Africa and Turkey.

Digital transformation isn’t a buzz word because it sounds nice and looks good on the business CV. It is fundamental to long-term business success. IDC anticipates that 75% of enterprises will be on the path to digital transformation by 2027. 

However, digital transformation is not a process that ticks a box and moves to the next item on the agenda – it is defined by the organisation’s shift towards a digitally empowered infrastructure and employee. It is an evolution across system, infrastructure, process, individual and leadership and should follow clear pathways to ensure sustainable success.

The nature of the enterprise has changed completely with the influence of digital, cloud and the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), and success is reliant on strategic change.

There is a lot more ownership and transparency throughout the organisation and there is a responsibility that comes with that – employees want access to information, there has to be speed in knowledge, transactions and engagement,” he adds. “To ensure that the organisation evolves alongside digital and demand, it has to follow five very clear pathways to long-term, achievable success.

The first of these is to evaluate where the enterprise sits right now in terms of its digital journey. This will differ by organisation size and industry, as well as its reliance on technology. A smaller organisation that only needs a basic accounting function or the internet for email will have far different considerations to a small organisation that requires high-end technology to manage hedge funds or drive cloud solutions. The same comparisons apply to the enterprise-level organisation. The mining sector will have a completely different sub-set of technology requirements and infrastructure limitations to the retail or finance sectors.

Ultimately, every organisation, regardless of size or industry, is reliant on technology to grow or deliver customer service, but their digital transformation requirements are different. To ensure that investment into artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, knowledge engines, automation and connectivity are accurately placed within the business and know exactly where the business is going.

The second step is to examine what the business wants to achieve. Again, the goals of the organisation over the long and short term will be entirely sector dependent, but it is essential that it examine what the competitive environment looks like and what influences customer expectations. This understanding will allow for the business to hone its digital requirements accordingly.

The third step is to match expectations to reality. You need to see how you can move your digital transformation strategy forward and what areas require prioritisation, what funding models will support your digital aspirations, and how this tie into what the market wants. Ultimately, every step of the process has to be prioritised to ensure it maps back to where you are and the strategic steps that will take you to where you want to go.

The fourth step is to look at the operational side of the process. This is as critical as any other aspect of the transformation strategy as it maps budget to skills to infrastructure in such a way as to ensure that any project delivers return on investment. Budget and funding are always top of mind when it comes to digital transformation – these are understandably key issues for the business. How will it benefit from the investment? How will it influence the customer experience? What impact will this have on the ongoing bottom line? These questions tie neatly into the fifth step in the process – the feedback loop.

This is often the forgotten step, but it is the most important. The feedback loop is critical to ensuring that the digital transformation process is achieving the right results, that the right metrics are in place, and that the needle is moving in the right direction. It is within this feedback loop that the organisation can consistently refine the process to ensure that it moves to each successive step with the right metrics in place.

There is also one final element that every organisation should have in place throughout its digital evolution. An element that many overlook – engagement. There must be a real desire to change, from the top of the organisation right down to the bottom, and an understanding of what it means to undertake this change and why it is essential. This is why this will be a key discussion at the 2019 IDC South Africa CIO Summit taking place in April this year. With this in place, the five steps to digital transformation will make sense and deliver the right results.

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