Computational HR @ HRTech

On September 30, 2014, in HRExaminer, John Sumser, by John Sumser

IMG_1095-1Next week, I’m running an amazing panel at HRTech in Vegas. It’s called Computational HR. Wednesday morning at 11.

If you stop to think about it, virtually all of the software we’re talking about at HRTech is used to make and keep records. Even the most sophisticated assessment tools are just tools that track things and keep a record of them. Users do their jobs and make a record of it in these systems. Very, very few people who touch these tools do actual work in them. Instead, they track and control their actual work with these record keeping systems. For the most part, HR Software is to HR as is to sales.

I’m pretty sure we’ve run out of record keeping possibilities. It looks like every conceivable thing that could be automated or tracked has been. Let me amend that slightly to note that a huge wave of sensors and surveillance tools are coming our way. They’ll need more tracking.

That isn’t the exciting part of the future of HR software. There’s something else coming and it’s starting to show its head.

I call it computational HR. It’s the stuff that makes people more effective in their jobs on a moment to moment basis. This sort of software  creates a responsive, adaptive work environment. It helps the worker by knowing the worker and the work. At it’s simplest, it’s the right information available at just the right time. At a more complex level, it might be anticipatory hints and suggestions that shape an outcome. In it’s science fiction best, it’s a mentoring intelligence.

The panelists are

Each of them represents the state of the art of a facet of the next generation of HR. Kevin runs engineering for Watson projects associated with HR. Vivienne is a neuroscientist from Berkeley who is figuring out how to map organizational culture from social data. Russell is just wrapping up a project to automate the HP workforce planning process. Chris Salles has built one of the first observable versions of the new toolset.

It’s been a long time coming. The people on the panel represent four different aspects of these tools. One of them has an operating Computational HR system in his company.

The core idea is that the employee is the most important person in the supply chain. I almost said leverage-able asset and maybe that’s what I really mean.

However you characterize it, the idea is that more effective workers make everybody more money. And that software should be focused on that now that we’re getting finished with the easy stuff.

The panelists represent a range of ideas on this concept from deep research to pragmatic application.

We’ll talk about the risks, benefits and timelines.

Beyond the current infatuation with distribution and pricing methods lies a vast array of possibilities for HR and company employees. The panel is a good way to get a glimpse of what’s coming.


Read previous post:
It’s Free, You’re Welcome

Great science over the last few decades has clearly demystified what makes great teams function. There is nothing complex on...