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HR must change “fundamentally” in the digital age, says Direct Line HR director

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The influence of technology in business is going to have a huge impact on the HR function, according to Mark Martin (pictured), HR director of insurance firm Direct Line.

Speaking yesterday at HR Tech Europe Spring Warm-up in London, Martin said HR needs to asses its role in the digital age. 

He said that as people data and management becomes more important to senior executives, HR must figure out how to support this. 

He said: "Business does business - the reason the executives are happy for someone else to get on with the people stuff is because they don't see the importance of it - I'm sorry but that's a fact.

"What technology is going to do is fundamentally change that. Executives will see what HR does as important, and then they will want to do it. They're not going to ask someone else to do their talent management analytics for them."

He added: "You can't manage what you don't measure. HR needs to asses its role in the digital age as it will change. Once you can see what's going on with people and customers, the business will manage it. We need to work out what HR needs to do to support that."

Also speaking at the event was Caitlin Hogan, people analyst at Google. Hogan talked about the importance of data in HR, or people operations as Google calls it.

She said all people decisions at Google are based on data analytics, which it uses to "engage, retain and improve its employees", known as "Googlers".

"We try to make our people data universally accessible and useful so we strive to provide decision makers with the information they need to make it effective," she said.

She added: "We put a huge emphasis on being a laboratory for innovative people research. We conduct experiments on things like structured hiring to see if we can get better or useful information from our research than the traditional interview process."

Hogan revealed that in 2012 Google received more than 2 million applications and so developed data algorithms to "systematically prioritise" CVs. 

"We use data to analyse positive bias in interviewing so we can try and eliminate all the bias out of hiring," she said.