Sunday, 1 May 2011

HR & Technology: Two to Tango

It gives me immense joy to announce the launch of The Human Factor’s digital avatar, While we already had a presence on the internet, where our readers could access our articles, stories, and archives, promises to be much more than a mere repository of The Human Factor. We hope to be able to create a platform that will connect and enrich all professionals and students who are interested in the ‘human factor’ of organisations, through this digital interactive medium. As takes its first baby steps, we seek your active participation, suggestions, and guidance to create a web space that we can all call our own.

This issue of The Human Factor, to mark the launch of, dwells on the effects and efficiencies of technology in the Human Resource Management function. The function in organisations is undergoing rapid change in structure and objective, reacting to a changing social and organisational environment and rapidly evolving systems and processes that use technology to reduce routine work and enhance productivity. The use of technology in what we now call ‘Human Resource Management’ is not new and may be traced back to the punch card that employees would punch as soon as they arrived at their factories and workplaces to mark their attendance. With the increasing globalisation of business and a workforce that is diverse and dispersed, social and organisational changes have increased expectations from HR professionals to provide expanded services of a higher quality; faster and seamlessly linked with other corporate functions . Information technologies in general and Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS) in specific, which provide enabling technologies to assist HR professionals in the delivery of services, have also simultaneously increased the expectations that employees, managers, customers, suppliers, and regulators have for the HR function.

HRIS however has very humble historical origins. Initial efforts to manage information about personnel were mostly limited to employee names and addresses, and perhaps some employment history, often scribbled on 3x5 note cards. Interestingly enough, what triggered large scale use of technology in HRIS was not efficiency or engagement, but the volumes of regulatory data that needed to be churned out in a political landscape, where employee rights was fast becoming a lightning rod for activism. By the 1980s, the Human Resource department became one of the most important users of the exceptionally-costly computing systems of the day, often edging out other functional areas for computer access. Although HRIS systems were computerised and grew extensively in size and scope during this period, they remained (for the most part) simple record-keeping systems. It is only in the last two decades that HRIS has grown to become a business function that creates and analyses data to support and enhance business growth and productivity. Technology has dramatically affected traditional HR functions in recent years, with nearly every HR function experiencing some sort of reengineering of its processes due to developments in information technology. The modern HRIS is an integrated and complex system that not only captures data related to human resources, but also churns out analysis to help in managerial decisions for structuring both organisational and employee growth.

As always, we hope you find this issue engaging. Do write to us with your suggestions. Drop in one of these days at; we look forward to your presence.

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