I have implemented global SAP HR projects for almost 15 years. During this time, very little has changed with HR and SAP HR. There were some cosmetic changes (HR to HCM) and some incremental changes (seeing your manager’s goals and setting your own goals for the year). I always felt some gap in HR/ HR systems as compared to consumer technology. For example: Why not email a photo, taken using a ubiquitous cell phone, of required document than faxing? How can the world of HR use the technological innovation? My tipping point came when I watched the movie ‘Moneyball’.
‘Moneyball’ (the movie and the book) is about how Billy Beane, the General Manager of Oakland Athletics’, rebuilt his baseball team on a lean budget using data analysis in selecting his players. He did not believe in the traditional scouting method. Nor did he believe in many of the player statistics as they did not correlate to their real performance. He used new player metrics (Sabermetrics) developed by Bill James that showed the true contribution and skills of the player. The results were astounding. Oakland Athletics created history in 2002 by winning 20 straight games, an accomplishment unheard of but what was fascinating is that his team had the lowest payroll. Boston Red Sox, understanding what Billy Beane had done, copied the approach. They went on to win the World Series in 2004 after a gap of 86 years!
US baseball’s origin can be traced back to 18th century, and the ‘World Series’ started in 1903. Traditional scouting techniques seemed the only way to find baseball talent. Bill James saw the inherent flaws in this technique and started to write about it, but baseball insiders couldn’t see it. Computers became available to do data analysis and crunch number and showed that Bill’s assessment made sense, but still the insiders refused to see the facts objectively. Finally, Billy came and executed on new model using technology. Now, why are we discussing this and what does this have to do with HR or HR systems like SAP HR?
Introduced around 1995, Core SAP HR hasn’t changed much. Since then, Steve Jobs came back to Apple and created iPhone. Mark Zuckerberg left college to create ‘Facebook’. Jack Dorsey lead ‘Twitter’. During this people-centered technological upheaval, SAP HR was just tweaked. I think most of the other systems are very similar and essentially execute the same HR processes, maybe slight differently. It seems that HR itself, as a function, has changed very little. Most data collected by HR drives administrative processes. Statistics and analytics that come from this data can not drive talent management or employee engagement. HR talks about building teams all the time, but how do you measure success of team building programs? How to measure what employees do differently if they become good team players? HR talks about employee engagement. How can it find out the degree of employee engagement? The lack of data and data models prevents HR from measuring key skills of the employees. But the same employees create an unbelievable amount of data when they leave the office. They tweet millions of messages every day post thousands of picture and posts on social media sites like Facebook. How can this phenomenon of creating and sharing data, willingly, be replicated for work, in the context of an office, a company ?
Big data, social media, cloud computing and mobile connectivity are going to help bring about HR transformation. HR has to rebuild itself from the bottom up. HR can analyze social data, provided by employees using their mobile devices, to improve personal productivity and lead the use of wearble computing which leads to higher company profits.
– Mobile devices enable employees to capture data easily and efficiently
– Mobile social apps help capture the relevant data
– BigData/ Analytics helps crunch and analyze this data (collected by crowdsourcing)
– Cloud computing makes this analysis/ feedback available anywhere, anytime
– Wearable computing (like Google Glasses)
The dreams of HR visionaries can become reality as the technologies have converged. It’s time for HR professionals to understand technology to see what moon shots are now possible. It’s time for HR professionals to become the ‘Billy Beane’ of a company. They have to build new HR systems that captures more relevant data, engages employees, predicts true talent and directly impacts company’s bottom-line. It’s not a time for incremental changes, it’s not a time for just a little transformation. It’s time to rebuild HR from the ground up using all the technology we have. It’s time for a new ‘RebuildHR’ Manifesto.
To be continued…
Wikipedia, Billy Beane, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billy_Beane (as of May 13, 2013, 19:11 GMT).
Wikipedia, Bill James, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_James (as of May 13, 2013, 19:14 GMT).
IMDB, Moneyball, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1210166/ (as of May 13, 2013, 22:00 GMT).
Wikipedia, History of baseball in the United States, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_baseball_in_the_United_States (as of May 15, 2013, 02:45 GMT).
Special thanks to Martix Rexroad for his insight and feedback.