A way for HR to enable interactions that create value, provide a Simply Irresistible workforce experience, and shift to the Future of HR
Over 2,000 guests joined our recent live discussion about Reimagining HR for the Future as part of Deloitte’s Dbriefs HR Executives Series. One of the participants asked for additional insights on a “unified engagement platform.”¬ Great question!
A unified engagement platform (UEP) is an essential Future of HR “enabler,” integrating the array of technologies so critical to creating a Simply IrresistibleTM workforce experience. While not necessarily deployed on a single software, the UEP brings together mobile, desktop, IoT, and digital/augmented/virtual reality technologies, presenting them in a way that makes it easy for workers to engage with information, actions, and each other for increased productivity and a consumer-grade experience.
HR has been an early and avid adopter of cloud, so when we think of HR technology, cloud-based, Core Human Capital Management (HCM) solutions are often what come to mind first. With continued investment by large and start-up technology players around the world, it’s fortunate that the technology opportunities for HR only begin with cloud-based HCM systems.
There’s an entire business ecosystem out there made up of HR solution providers that are rapidly innovating and evolving—and now enabling—enterprises to better access, curate, and engage the workforce. New solutions for everything from talent acquisition to people analytics to team management to rewards and well-being are emerging seemingly every week. Yet, no one solution can offer everything an organization might need to create the most engaging and productive experience for its unique workforce.
This is where a unified engagement platform comes in. UEPs enable enterprises to look beyond individual solution providers and bring together various solutions from multiple providers into one holistic and consistent experience for workers that you define. This emphasis is very important. The UEP is worker- and enterprise-centric. It starts with an experience designed for your specific workforce, then it folds in other solutions, capabilities, and technologies to support and enrich that experience.
What do we mean by “platform”? Platforms are fundamental to the way digital enterprises work. In fact, many of the world’s top companies and even newer, disruptive ones are themselves platform businesses.
Platform models have three core functions: pull, facilitate, and match.1
- Pull means attracting users to the platform (say, to connect with friends or stream a movie) and enabling interactions. In the HR context, a platform attracts workers because it’s easy to use and provides a compelling experience that helps them be productive on the job.
- Facilitate means making interactions easy and encouraging the exchange of information, data, ideas, and actions—think of your online retail experience. It’s this exchange and interaction that creates value. In a work environment, a UEP might bring consumer-grade tools and experiences to workplace interactions and include constructive rules to govern those interactions, such as online collaboration tools with role-based permissions, or the way you publicly recognize a teammate’s contribution.
- Match means applying information to bring people/services/products together in mutually rewarding ways. So, your online purchase might include suggestions for other products you may want to buy. Your platform for workforce engagement might suggest potential project teammates with specific skills, recommend jobs or assignments matching your particular skill set, or show you learning opportunities to develop your skills.
Underlying the unified engagement platform are three enabling layers—a cognitive layer (RPA, chatbots, machine learning), a platforms and applications layer (including both cloud-based HCM and vendor-managed systems), and an enterprise data layer. Data is captured from the applications and a wide variety of other internal and external sources. The UEP provides a place to access this information so that it can be used to develop deeper insights into the workforce while personalizing the user experience. For example, the experience of someone in an infrastructure role may be different from that of someone in production, sales, research. The combination of these layers brings the power to go beyond workforce segments to personalize each individual user’s experience.
Bigger than HR
Though UEPs can certainly make the workforce experience of interacting with HR and doing HR-related tasks much simpler and more engaging, they are much more than that. They are a means to enable the enterprise, workforce, and work-related requirements for the Future of HR, which are broader than they have ever been. In this future, HR can step beyond the recently emerged role of “workforce experience facilitator” into leading the charge toward workforce productivity. A UEP helps people get things done—working more easily, more collaboratively, and ultimately more productively, which empowers the entire enterprise to drive faster innovation, better customer experience, and greater profitability.
Platforms are a hallmark of digital business. Five of the world’s top 10 companies by market cap2 are platform companies. Their purpose is to bring buyers and sellers and communities together for value-creating transactions, driven by data.3 Enterprises have their own opportunity, through a unified engagement platform, to enable value-creating interactions and use data to gain a full picture of the hows, whos, whats, and wheres of the work they do—all to help make work more efficient, people more productive, and the enterprise more successful. The Future of HR is to lead this opportunity.
1 Sangeet Paul Choudary, Marshall Van Alstyne, and Geoffrey Parker, Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy—and How to Make Them Work for You, W. W. Norton & Company, 2016, cited in Jeff Mike and Madhura Chakrabarti,PhD, Becoming digital: Ecosystems, platforms, and HR, Bersin by Deloitte, 2017.
2 Elvis Picardo, “Eight of the world’s top companies are American,” Investopedia, updated February 3, 2019, https://www.investopedia.com/articles/active-trading/111115/why-all-worlds-top-10-companies-are-american.asp.
3 Sangeet Paul Choudary, Marshall Van Alstyne, and Geoffrey Parker, Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy—and How to Make Them Work for You, W. W. Norton & Company, 2016, cited in Jeff Mike and Madhura Chakrabarti,PhD, Becoming digital: Ecosystems, platforms, and HR, Bersin by Deloitte, 2017.