In the most recent Pivot Podcast with Kara Swisher and Professor Scott Galloway, Scott referenced that the most exciting technologies or innovations in history are often dull. However, his excitement was not for SpaceX but instead Elon Musk’s Boring Company. Prof G was excited about Boring because business folks often changed history by creating “time travel.” Well, not making a time machine, but developing technologies or capabilities that give people more time in their lives. Hence, creating a network of quicker transportation methods underground would provide people with more time by avoiding the traffic plagued by most major cities in the world.
As I road my bike listening to this podcast and Prof G’s comments, I realized that the next excellent HR technology would ultimately allow employees to “time travel.” To be more direct, the HR technologies that will change the workplace will give employees more time. In the same way that email changed the way we communicate, Slack the way we collaborate, or Zoom in the way we meet, the core to each of these technologies was “time travel,” the ability of each one to give us more time to do other things.
When the great architects of HR technology think about HR systems, they primarily think about them from the “backstage” point of view. By the way, in my next article, I will discuss frontstage versus backstage. But, for now, frontstage is how employees experience your technology or services, and backstage is how we fulfill those services or requests. So back to my point – most HR technologies focus on the backstage stuff and very little focus on frontstage or the employee experience.
In recent years, these technologies have been getting better. Still, when you think about when an employee has to add a dependent, sign a document, or change their tax deductions – it’s almost impossible for them to figure these things on their own. It’s because we build these technologies with the backstage processes in mind. Thus the experience increases the time spent in these technologies and contradicts my theory of “time travel.” We need to develop technologies that give time back to employees. They need to get what they want and take action as quickly as possible.
For example, they can ask a chatbot for information about policies or learning technologies that deliver the exact training they need when they need it. If technologies can provide these things, we will have achieved time travel in HR technology. Another example is combining email, Slack, Zoom into an AR experience that allows employees to save time by teleworking in their local coffee shop a few days a week. So what do HR technologies need to do to achieve this time travel?
- Consumer First – your consumer is not HR; it’s the employee. Start focusing on the employee experience and put this concept of time travel at the core of your product strategy. If you ask employees for one thing that would improve their productivity right now, I bet they’d say time (not an HR system, at least for now).
- Time Travel API – saves time for the employee. Companies that can connect to all different technologies through an open API will develop technologies that can connect to HR solutions and create an efficient employee experience.
- Think about the offline and online experiences – ponder on things that companies need to do in order to facilitate time travel for employees How can we create time for employees with tools that increase their efficiencies, not only the HR Team?
- Bet on AR – yes, I will continue to ring this bell. VR is not the answer, but AR will help create time travel for employees in this new world of work. Imagine a technology where employees can see their email, Slack, and the virtual avatars of their colleagues all in the same place, while looking out into a packed coffee shop. AR will create time travel opportunities where commuting to an office doesn’t.
- Training – the medium is not the question, but training that the individual prefers and where they learn best. The bet in L & D is delivering the exact training at the precise moment of need. Instead, we force employees to go to a training session (now via Zoom), read an article that disrupts them via Slack, or an E-Learning platform, all when they can find time in their busy day. Imagine going into a pitch for a new client and getting a quick e-learning note on how to close a sale a few minutes before that meeting. Time travel!
- Recruiting – if your ATS requires candidates to upload their resumes or connect their social accounts and then asks them to fill out a form with the same information, this experience detracts from their time travel. It creates more work and time. The ability to connect companies and candidates seamlessly with minimal effort (not searching boards, not applying the same information multiple times, not serving ill-timed ads) will create time travel opportunities.
The HR tech companies that start putting a consumer focus on their product strategies and asking employees directly how to save them more time in their day (aka time travel) will win in the next round of great tech unicorns.