The Infosys Labs research blog tracks trends in technology with a focus on applied research in Information and Communication Technology (ICT)

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Trends and Innovation in HR

"Human resources isn't just a thing we do, it's THE thing that runs our business"
- Steve Wynn, Entrepreneur

The importance of the HR department has, till recent times, been overlooked. The HR department was initially handling record keeping, compliance to laws and regulations and compensation & benefits for employees. Over the past decade, with an onset and adoption of technologies and automation, the HR department has evolved remarkably. In addition to payroll process automation and streamlined on-boarding, new platforms and technology has enhanced the talent management systems, allowing more focus on personalized employee engagement.

Despite the technological and procedural advancements around the HR practice over the past few years, there are still many challenges to overcome. Some of these are in effective and efficient training, managing the workforce, recruitment, employee retention, addressing concerns and in meeting dynamic demand requirements.

In order to overcome these challenges, there are numerous technological and business trends that are being considered to enhance the HR landscape. The business trends include consumerization of HR (providing a consumer-style experience for employees), workforce on-demand (based on the concept of on-demand economy, where recruitment is temporary, on contract basis, and as per need), collaborative HR (a model where HR extensively works and grows with marketing, finance, IT and other functions in the organization) and agile HR (which involves policy changes to build organizational and employee agility, so as to develop and retain top talent in all geographies). All of these trends involve modifying HR processes and operations to adapt to the ever changing employee requirements, and to enhance employee engagement and experience.

Human resources coupled with an emphasis on technology & professionalism is the quality structure of organization" - Unknown


The technological trends include new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), Conversational User Interfaces (CUI), Blockchain, Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Big Data Analytics. These technologies, based on their applications, are categorized into themes, namely:

  • Cognitive HR, which is essentially the use of cognitive technologies such as AI, ML and CUI to improve various enterprise HR processes and operations. Cognitive HR can be applied in the form of chatbots which enables easy accessibility, instantaneous response & round the clock availability to address employee concerns, and sentiment analysis, which helps to identify teams and units under stress by capturing the sentiments of mails and chat conversations. These help to improve various processes such as talent management - where AI can be used in talent acquisition, onboarding procedures and training, and performance management - for continuous assessment and unprejudiced appraisals using AI. Companies such as Mya and BetterWorks provide AI powered HR solutions, such as automating 'resume to hire' processes, and continuous performance assessment.

  • Blockchain is a decentralized and secure ledger which gives participating parties a way of validating the information, thereby helping to streamline HR processes in organizations. Blockchain helps to improve processes such as candidate verification by ensuring validity and authenticity of data, cross border payments by reducing transaction time and costs by eliminating intermediaries, data protection by using blockchain's consensus mechanism and immutable properties, and smart contracts to automate various administrative tasks such as labour agreements and payments. Companies such as Bitwage (facilitates cross-border payments on blockchain) and Chronobank (uses blockchain-type technology to allow employers to pay contract workers without going through banks) are using blockchain to improve HR processes.

  • Immersive HR leverages AR, VR and IoT to enhance employee engagement and experiences. The various applications include employee training - for on the job training and guidance using AR and VR, recruitment - to provide a glimpse into the company work environment and opportunities using AR, and employee management - to analyze and get insights about employees by using wearables and IoT. Companies providing immersive solutions in HR include Galivac, which provides VR solutions for an immersive employee assessment program, and STRIVR, which offers VR solutions for employee training.

  • Data and Analytics helps to gain insights about individual employees and functions within the organization. The HR processes that can be improved using data analytics include forecasting - to accurately predict hiring numbers, dynamic rostering - for hiring, managing and assigning workforce dynamically, talent management - for data driven improvements to the hiring strategy, performance management - for unbiased, data driven employee appraisal and review, and proactive grievance redressal - by analyzing information from different communication channels to predict and address impending employee concerns. Companies that offers data driven solutions for HR include Impraise, whose solution utilizes analytics for improving employee performance appraisals, and Pivotal Talent, which has a solution named TAMI that uses data and predictive algorithms to determine an optimum shortlist from thousands of candidates.

Investing in, and keeping up to date on new and improved technology and business trends in HR is essential for an organization to avoid any inefficiencies related to outdated processes and policies. The new trends in HR not only keeps the employees engaged, but also provides a level of personalized care and support that greatly enhances employee productivity, welfare and trust in the enterprise, leading to successful organizational development. 

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