“The new generation of software is focused on the delivery of measurable outcomes accompanied by automated coaching about real-world results. The whole idea is to move you away from the software.” – John Sumser

Security Series 3 – Context: Shifting Technology

Emerging tools are being designed to reduce time using the software, involve a view of design that runs counter to the prior generation of technology. Today’s ROI is measured at the bottom line while providing clear feedback to the company’s machine learning toolset. The object is to increase the benefit technology delivers while reducing the amount of time required to realize it.

Until recently, the goal was stickiness — great design held you in the interface. More time using the product was the goal. The premise was that usage and adoption were related to a sustained quantity of user experience. The underlying emphasis on the quality of the process was exactly a replication of industrial thinking. The idea was that uniform processes led to predictable quality.

The result was software became the work. Rather than creating increased productivity and innovation, software, with its concrete and repeatable processes, became the very thing that limited productivity. We have spent our time acquiring and changing software, learning new process and function, and performing our work inside the constraints of those programs.

The new generation of software is focused on the delivery of measurable outcomes accompanied by automated coaching about real-world results. The whole idea is to move you away from the software. The machine ‘handles’ the repeatable elements of the process. This leaves employees to handle anomalies, new trends, changes in fashion, different business models, team optimization, strategy, forecasting, planning, and, other things once viewed as organizational luxuries.

You could be forgiven for thinking that the jobs that will be automated first are going to be managerial. Certainly, the tasks involving delegation, follow up, performance feedback, coaching, and the administrivia checklist will be automated rapidly. Rather than having managers spend their time hunched over their terminals, the new tools kick them out of their offices to focus on developing relationships and getting the company’s work done.

A lot of the early applications seem to be focused on making the end user of the software hyper-competent with communications technology. In the HR segment, there are an endless parade of tools that essentially prepare you to have a better conversation with the right person about the right things using the most effective approach. The tools seem to carry an implicit assumption that the end decision maker is a working level employee along with potentially dated views of organizational structure and employee relationships.

Sometimes it looks like we are knitting ourselves a collective straight jacket. As the recommendations get better, they are going to be harder to argue with. But, since machine learning depends on events and feedback, it can only get better at recommending what worked in the past. This means that employees will need to be armed with disciplined critical thinking and a systems orientation to apply the recommendations based on what’s happened to what the organization wants to happen next. The most prized skill in 21st century organizations may well involve critiquing and improving machine performance.

How do you innovate in a world with machine-like certainty about what works and what doesn’t? Of course, it’s possible. Innovation is often driven by impossible constraints. But, we are shifting from a model of innovation done with a backdrop of abundance to one in which risk can be calculated with precision.


The Security Series: HR as Security Leader

1: Overview – Why Focus Your HR Department on Security? Link »
2: Introduction Link »
3: Context – Shifting Technology Link »
4: Context – Increasing Employee Power Link »
5: The Ecosystem of Security Issues Link »
6: The Future of Security Issues Link »
7: The HR Security Center of Excellence Link »
8: Getting Started Link »

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