HR ‘will die in its current form’, says HR technology expert

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Much of what HR departments do now will not provide jobs for people in the future, according to an industry expert.

Speaking at the HR Tech Europe Conference in London yesterday, Appirio chief business innovation officer Jason Averbook said traditional employment structures themselves will cease to exist in a way we recognise.

"The emphasis will shift from jobs to tasks," he said. "Some people might be doing work for five or six different companies. This will cause real disruption to HR departments and the way they work."

This dramatic shift in workplace structures, defragmenting jobs and structures of functions, means that many of the traditional day-to-day tasks to HR will not be needed in the future, according to Averbook.

"HR as we see it today is going to die,” he said. “A lot of what we can do will be automated in the future. The good news is it will be re-born as something more important if we work together towards real change."

Averbook told HR magazine the main changes required were around providing real value to the business. He said one of the ways to do this is provide real-time data that can lead to tangible pay-off for the company.

"The way that HR can really get people interested in what they're doing is create data that isn't inward facing but solves a problem the business has," he said. "I'd say 95% of data is collected with no real sense of what is going to be done with it when it's been attained."

Averbook added that simply collecting the data isn't enough, as HR departments have collected data for years and have a tendency to keep it to themselves. "If you create a narrative with this data and create something that's of value to the company then what is it for?" he said.

Former HR director of Direct Line Group Mark Martin also made some challenging comments on the future of HR.

He told the audience: “Most of you are playing the wrong game and fighting the wrong war.”

He added to be truly strategic and influential in the business, HR directors need four main attributes. “You’ve got to be a leader or you wont survive, you’ve got to be a commercial player, you’ve got to be financially fluent and technically aware.”

He said it was "inevitable" people were going to become more and more important to business success. "People management is going to be a critical strategic function," he said. "Who will look after it?" 

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