Top 11 Predictions That We See Impacting HR and Talent For 2017 – Prediction 7


Research Report Bersin by Deloitte


Digital HR is here to stay. We, in HR, have to “do digital,” as well as “be digital,” in everything we do.


Prediction 7: Digital HR and Learning Will Help Us to Reinvent L&D and HR Systems

Over the last five years, companies have invested billions of dollars into integrated, cloud-based, core HR systems. Yet new research from Cedar Crestone30 shows that, despite this investment, employees are still far from satisfied with their HR systems and solutions.

We know employee engagement remains flat and productivity has yet to improve. What can HR do to be more proactive and innovative in our solutions?

A solution is right before us. HR organizations now have to learn how to “be digital,” not just “buy digital products.” Just as many digital disruptors have toppled businesses in travel, retail, and other industries, we should essentially “topple” our HR thinking with the adoption of digital solutions.

Digital solutions in HR (and learning) mean several things.

  • Hackathons and MVP (minimal viable products) work to get new apps and programs out the door quickly, with iterative improvement over time. Rather than do a two- to three-year implementation of a major new HR system, we have to add new apps and solutions much more quickly.
  • Adoption of digital tools and design. We need to become very good at building digital apps, creating well-designed user experiences, and using the tips and techniques of gamification, behavioral economics (nudges), and analytics in HR. Rather than telling people to “travel less,” we might want to give them a nudge application that compares their travel to others and incents them to slow down. 
  • Increasing transparency. Whether we like it or not, everything in HR has become transparent. People now know who is being promoted; they probably know their salary versus external benchmarks; and they know your company’s brand attributes on the outside market. Rather than fight or hide things from employees, we have to think “what if we share this and let people comment and rate things” instead.
  • Standardizing platforms. In many ways, HR itself is a “platform”—we provide services, tools, information, and data to managers and employees all day. We have to think about ourselves as a team of centers of excellence (or a network of excellence) built on one standard HR Platform, with real-time data for all. One of our large clients in India, for example, implemented SAP in a unique way to build real-time dashboards for hiring speed, time to proficiency, turnover metrics, and engagement metrics in all 1,000-plus of its regional business offices. Everyone can see everything, so management decisions happen fast. 
  • Bringing heterogeneous platform experiences together. No matter how hard you try, it is nearly impossible to standardize on one technology vendor for all of your HR services. Our latest research actually found that the average company has seven different “systems of record,” and that problem is never likely to go away. The idea of an HR portal has been around for decades, but today with mobile needs and dynamic workers, we need a better solution. An effective option is to build an integrated employee experience platform, one built on apps and an integrated backend. Our case study on Commonwealth Bank of Australia31 describes how they did this; new products like Deloitte ConnectMe32 integrate employee transaction needs, services, and personalization in one integrated system.
  • Moving HR teams around. Just as a business would provide job rotation, experiential learning, and exposure to new leaders, we should do the same in HR. Digital business means always being able to “pivot”—move people into new jobs—and that often means into and out of HR. HR business partners should have business rotations and business leaders should rotate into HR as well. 
  • Data-driven everything. Analytics is no longer a “good idea” for HR—it is now Effective digital HR means you have good data; you have an analytics team; your systems are integrated and cleaned up; and you can find accurate information quickly. Without this data “platform,” you will likely fall behind the rest of the business and decisions may be made too slowly.


I mention L&D in this prediction because the part of HR that seems to be most under stress is the way we train and coach our teams. You have to seriously think about what “digital learning” experiences mean—and apply the disciplines of design thinking to the way people learn. We are going to be reintroducing our brand-new High-Impact Learning Organization research in 2017, so stay tuned for more on that topic.


Other Predictions:

Prediction 1: Organizational Design Will Be Challenged Everywhere
Prediction 2: Culture and Engagement Will Remain Top Priorities
Prediction 3: Real-Time Feedback and Analytics Will Explode in Maturity
Prediction 4: A New Generation of Performance Management Tools Will Emerge
Prediction 5: A Focus on “Human Performance” and Wellbeing Will Become a Critical Part of HR, Talent, and Leadership 
Prediction 6: Focus on Employee Experience Will Overcome Process Design in HR
Prediction 8: The Leadership Market Will Start a Steady Process of Reinvention
Prediction 9: Diversity, Inclusion, and Unconscious Bias Will Become a Top Priority
Prediction 10: The L&D Function Will Continue to Struggle
Prediction 11: The Future of Work Is Here and HR Is in the Hot Seat


  • Cedar Crestone Systems Survey 2016
  • Fostering Change and Driving Productivity: How the Commonwealth Bank of Australia Leveraged Analytics and Mobile Technology to Spur Efficiency, Bersin by Deloitte / Katherine Jones, PhD, 2015.

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