Research Library Article


Technology Planning

David Earle

TechWe review three research papers that will help guide your technology plans.

The ability to skillfully manage and exploit technology is one of the four new competencies required for a successful career in 21st century HR management (the others being marketing, data management, and business language). This requires that users develop an owners mentality towards technology that differs markedly from the traditional users mentality. 


Users have the luxury of ceding responsibility for which vendors are selected, what functionality is purchased, how systems are maintained and upgraded, and on what schedule, either to their IT and Finance counterparts or to outsourcing partners. Owners have realized that they can no longer operate in that hands-off way because technology now controls the scope and quality of their work. Simply put, inferior technology will compromise every effort to deliver superior HR performance.

These research papers offer three approaches to technology ownership along with the perspectives that are the foundation of competency.

Paper #1 from Bersin by Deloitte addresses the 10 most important trends that HR managers must understand if they are to make appropriate strategic decisions. For example:

  • The fundamental shift from systems of record to systems of engagement
  • Mobile apps as the primary customer interface for best-in-class HR platforms
  • The redefinition of HR functions ranging from payroll, time tracking and scheduling to employee engagement, feedback and culture analysis by new, built-for-the-cloud vendors


Paper #2, by David Cearley at Gartner, drills down on what these trends mean to IT people in terms of software, hardware and system architecture. The terms used are those HR managers would do well to understand if they are to communicate effectively with their IT partners. In this context, “communicate” does not imply becoming an IT expert, but simply being able to effectively bridge the gap between HR language and IT language. Some examples:

  • The device mesh, machine learning, autonomous agents, and adaptive security architecture

Paper #3, from McKinsey, takes a managerial point of view: asking questions that need to be answered if an organization is to successfully leverage new technology to maximum advantage. As experienced consultants know, human factors, not technological ones, are usually the reason that complex, long-range change initiatives don’t deliver as expected. Sample questions:

  • Which customer journeys matter the most?
  • Who is responsible for what? Are they empowered to act?
  • Are the various teams collaborating effectively?
  • Is there a disciplined ‘test and learn’ approach?

Our Technology Report discusses the details of ownership in considerable detail.

Research Sources

Bersin by Deloitte

Cearley / Gartner


Our Technology Report