Smart HR with Smartphones
The year was 2005 and I was in Dalian, China. We were part of a pursuit team for one of the biggest HR outsourcing deals in the BPO industry. The president of our company was talking to the client - the HR head of a manufacturing global giant. "Kiosks don't work. We have tried it before. Computers are out of question. These are people on the factory floor," He roared. My then president, known for her sharp thinking, picked her phone and held it in the air, "I can get you hardware companies here in China to build a handheld computer that can do everything, that can be done on a desktop and still be carried around. And it will be specific for your company. I will bear the costs. It will be cheaper than deploying people all around to manage stuff," she responded back. There was disbelief in the room. We had made prototypes in the past for showing multimedia run on the mobile. WAP was known. But a HR device for the factory floor that is customized was something that was not thought of. But the vision got across. We got the deal. But the device never got developed.
Almost 8 years later, mobility has come a long way. Bulky Personal Computers and complex operating systems are on their way out. The desktop paradigm and the workstations are dying. Million dollar single function systems and complex interfaces are being questioned. A new eco-system is emerging in the space. It has already taken over our personal computing space. It may not be long before it reaches our work areas. Dedicated workspaces may not be in vogue for long. Factory floors or field work will not constrain a worker from interacting with their office systems anymore. Laptops, virtual office tokens, even swipe capturing devices may all merge into the mobile device. This can in one act of convergence become the ID card, credit card and access card.
Sadly, no player in the HR industry has boldly taken the plunge yet or pronounced the vision like my then president 8 year back. We continue to build complex HR systems and sell services around them. Companies are still commissioning systems based on what will reduce administrative load as the primary motive. The employee comes very late in the picture. Our systems will have to be built with mobile as the primary system. The architecture need to be new. Not clip a few things and fit the desktop onto the mobile.
The entire paradigm needs to change. We need to build an HR service offering that has the mobile as the center and the way people work and interact on the mobile as the platform. The mobile will be the primary device that can be projected on a larger screen. With this ESS/MSS may have a whole new adoption level taking away the transactional layer in HRO and give way for value added HRO to emerge. I am excited to see the new reality emerging, Are you?