Live from SuccessConnect – Taking in the View at the Intersection of Talent and Technology


Posted by David Parent on October 10, 2013

I have the privilege today of presenting at SuccessConnect with my client from The Kroger Company — a Top 25 Fortune 500 company with more than 340,000 employees. Our teams have worked together for the past 18 months to deploy SuccessFactors to transform the company’s talent functions. The real story, though, is not about “how” the deployment is happening, but rather why it’s happening and what it could mean for the company in the future. I think the same is true for most organizations implementing talent technologies.

First, the “why.” While moving to a cloud-based, talent solution typically comes with familiar benefits such as automation, efficiency, and consistency, these are secondary to the real focus for most organizations: improving talent programs to directly support and further the company’s business strategies. Even organizations with strong, mature talent management can benefit from the latest talent technologies. Common areas of opportunity include:

  • Employee Insights. Implementing talent profiles, as enabled in most leading solutions, not only gives leaders more meaningful information about their direct reports and team members, but also provides this visibility across the enterprise, so leaders can see, assess, and deploy talent more effectively.
  • Succession Planning. This enhanced visibility into talent then supports improved succession planning. Leaders can better identify high performers and align them with future roles, as well as identifying gaps where further development is needed, both individually and organizationally.
  • Recruiting and Onboarding. For most organizations, meeting growth goals depends on having the right people in the right place at the right time. This need is directly supported by transforming the recruiting process to proactively pursue top talent (through more sophisticated sourcing, including use of social media and talent pools), as opposed to the historical approach of posting a position and waiting to see who applies. Once in the pipeline, organizations are looking to build more robust approaches to assessing candidates, and using onboarding capabilities to enhance both the efficiency and experience associated with onboarding.
  • Performance Management and Compensation. The latest tools enable more dynamic and more robust performance management approaches, then tie these processes more directly to compensation — often enabling the “pay for performance” connections many organizations now seek.
  • Learning and Development. Modernizing the learning infrastructure to support a broad array of learning programs — traditional, online, web-based, webinars, just-in-time tutorials — means employees can continue to grow right along with the organization.

As these examples illustrate, the points where technology and talent intersect are where the real power lies — not solely in streamlining or automating, but in helping improve talent practices in ways that help organizations achieve their goals.

This talent-technology intersection has the potential to become even more powerful down the road. Consider the rise of analytics and Big Data capabilities in HR, a phenomenon my Deloitte Consulting LLP colleague, Josh Bersin, talks about in his post. One of the key selling points of most leading talent technology providers is the integration they offer across the various aspects of the talent life cycle — both from a process and a data perspective. While some providers are close, most still have a ways to go. However, once this vision is achieved, there will be entirely new opportunities to further transform how organizations manage their talent.

For example, once recruiting and performance management are part of the same integrated system, organizations should, in theory, be able to examine data about high performers over time and use it to improve recruiting. Perhaps the data show that high performers come from certain colleges, or from certain functions or industries. Knowing what sourcing channels produce the highest performers could allow an organization to focus or refine its recruiting strategies. Likewise, performance and manager data can be analyzed to see if certain managers help develop high performers more consistently than others. These insights might allow an organization to not only recognize those managers for their effectiveness (thus tying performance to compensation) but also study their practices to identify how to further develop the skills of other managers (thus fostering organizational learning). These kinds of insights could enable organizations to analyze and redefine their talent management programs in entirely new ways.

These analytics-based capabilities are still evolving. But the potential to gain valuable insight in the future, as well as the very real opportunities to further organizational goals in the present, are compelling reasons for organizations to transform their HR practices. For those that do, the view at the intersection of technology and talent will likely be worth the journey to get there.

David Parent David Parent, Principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP, prides himself on being a “human capitalist” — one who understands a broad array of people issues and organizational dynamics and is able to configure integrated solutions to help clients improve their investment in their people.

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