Adapt and Adopt Technology Faster

Technology forces forward movement. It makes us figure out what could be more meaningful or useful for people to do. Rather than dig ditches and plow fields by hand, we have machinery that makes that work faster and safer and frees individuals up to do work that machines cannot. Rather than take work from people, technology creates new opportunities while taking on the boring, repetitive, and dangerous jobs.

Are you able to take advantage of technology to do the boring, repetitive parts of recruiting? Do you have tools that automatically schedule interviews, recommend people based on their resumes, create all the reports and documents you need? Are you able to recruit faster than before? Have you invested in systems, technology, and process improvements to lower costs and improve the speed to hire, develop, retain, or engage your employees? If not, you are clearly lagging behind those who have, and will have a tough time catching up.

HR will be (and already is) under full assault from the third-party world. Increases in productivity significantly lag the investment in tools and process improvements. We normally first use new technologies to emulate what we already do in another way.
It's only after significant time that we begin to find new and innovative ways to use the tools and adjust our processes accordingly.

An example is the introduction of the typewriter. In the early days of the typewriter a manager would dictate to a stenographer, who would take shorthand and then use the typewriter to create a document. This took two people and three steps. It took decades before we got to the point of eliminating the stenographer by having the manager learn to type and enter the document directly. But when this occurred, the profession of stenographer disappeared (as did shorthand), efficiency went up, and the number of people an office needed went down.

There is a similar story about the applicant tracking system. Introduced in the late 1980s, it really just added a step to the standard recruiting process - and even slowed it down and added staff - by requiring resumes to be scanned and checked for accuracy. They were weak on search. They consumed hours of IT time to set up and maintain. It has taken 20 years to get where they are today, and there is long way to go yet before they are really productivity-enhancers.
These examples illustrate what I mean: It takes a lot of time from the introduction of a new technology for people to learn how to use it and to adjust processes and structures. It takes a long time for technology vendors to adapt and improve the outputs, interface, and capabilities. From the 1970s through the mid-1990s organizations globally were investing heavily in computers and software, and everyone assumed that because of those tools, productivity would soar. For anyone old enough to remember, that did not happen. Lots of economists called this the productivity paradox. It seemed that no investment in technology, computers, or software caused any major change in productivity.

Then, around 1995 everything changed. Suddenly productivity began to climb and averaged 2.6 percent until 2000. Then another amazing surge occurred when productivity jumped to 3.6 percent through 2003. It has now settled back into a comfortable 2.4 percent per year growth, which is still greater per year than those before 1970. The great lesson is that investments in technology and process improvements pay off - time for that to happen.

By Kevin Wheeler, reprinted with the permission of Electronic Recruiting Exchange