In today's digital age, it seems as though the technology we use for work, play and communication advances at rates faster than the electrical currents used to power these tools. Once a cutting-edge device or system reaches consumers and businesses, a better and more updated version is already rolling off the assembly line.
Technological trends come and go in every facet of everyday life, including for human resources departments. With the end of one year comes the clean slate full of new industry practices, improved systems and added functionalities companies can take advantage of. These are three of the most significant tech-based trends HR staff should be aware of in 2018:
1. Artificial intelligence
"Learning management systems will grow increasingly mobile."
The practice of using systems and tools integrated with artificial intelligence is growing more popular among companies hoping to boost their productivity. These processes are being increasingly used to enhance decision making, improve established business models and renovate the customer experience.
According to a recent report from Gartner, 59 percent of businesses surveyed stated they were currently gathering information to create custom AI systems, while the remaining respondents were already testing AI implementation within their companies.
"AI techniques are evolving rapidly and organizations will need to invest significantly in skills, processes and tools to successfully exploit these techniques and build AI-enhanced systems," said David Cearley, vice president and Gartner Fellow, at the Gartner 2017 Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando, Florida, according to a company press release. "Investment areas can include data preparation, integration, algorithm and training methodology selection, and model creation. Multiple constituencies including data scientists, developers and business process owners will need to work together."
The specific kind of AI being widely integrated is known as narrow AI – functionality based on algorithms that allow it to be highly proficient in performing one or a small number of tasks efficiently versus doing numerous things only marginally well.
Gartner suspects that AI will be incorporated into every app and service in some capacity over the next few years. The functionalities are meant to run silently in the background of other application categories, while also presenting opportunities to create brand new ones.
The development of smart apps has the potential to create a new intermediary between business systems and the people that use them. This could lead to a transformation of the workplace structure and the use of tools like virtual customer assistants and enterprise advisors and assistants. However, the AI is not meant to be seen as a way to root actual people from their positions.
"Explore intelligent apps as a way of augmenting human activity, and not simply as a way of replacing people," Cearley said during the symposium.
Investment in this by companies and developers is expected to carry on through 2020 and beyond.
2. Cloud solutions
Josh Bersin, founder and principal at Bersin by Deloitte, told Forbes that he noticed cloud-based HR services being used in increasing numbers over the last five years. Things like human resource management systems, enterprise resource planning, payroll and talent management systems have all been shifted to the cloud.
Bersin said that only 40 percent of current businesses use cloud HR functionalities in some way, but that number is expected to rise significantly in the future. However, some companies can take years to integrate their business models with the cloud and the transition will not happen overnight due to the variance of cloud systems offered.
The most important business segments being migrated to the cloud are those focused on team and talent management. Systems that make the lives of employees as simple as possible are the ones that will be worth shifting to the cloud the most.
3. Learning in the workplace
Learning management systems that support performance in real-time within the office are expected to be a utilized frequently within the workplace in 2018. Performance support tools are learning management systems that can assist an employee at the exact moment they need help, according to the online magazine E Learning Industry. These assets are generally embedded directly into the staff member's workflow and they have the freedom to pursue their work normally with the benefit of an on-call aide.
These systemic assistants can benefit employees of all skill levels in a number of ways, such as:
- Teaching them something for the first time.
- Allowing them to learn more about a topic they are already familiar with.
- Granting staff the ability to adapt to an unfamiliar or challenging task by presenting the knowledge or tools to complete it.
A subset of this model of learning that will also be more widely used this year comes in the implementation of these systems on mobile devices. Learning management systems will grow increasingly mobile and have the capability to be put on virtually any remote device. This will give employees a greater degree of flexibility while delivering a seamless user experience no matter what piece of equipment the system is being accessed on.