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Why HR Consumerification Should Look More Like Google, Not Apple


Influence HR is a week away and we’re all geared up for that. One event that is also happening next week is IHRIM’s 2014 HRMS Strategies Conference down in SoCal. There I’ll be speaking about the consumerification of HR technology and there’s just one message I’d like to get across:

Think Google, not Apple. 

Now I tell you this while writing on my MacBook Pro, with my iPhone in pocket, and an iPad that is on my bedside table and on every trip I take. I love Apple.

Consumerification isn’t just about user interface and design, which Apple absolutely nails. It’s about context. I’ll give you an example. 

When I had an Android phone, was on the road, and was due to go to the airport, it would automatically let me know what traffic is like on the way to the airport from my general location and what my flight status was at a glance. When I was in a car, it would automatically activate my speaker phone when I answered the phone and it could automatically let people who texted me know I was driving. 

In short, Google added context to the experience. For whatever their design and user interface lacks — I’ll let the experts take that debate — Google adds in the contextual element that means I didn’t get surprised by bad traffic on the way to the airport and that I would always leave myself with enough time to get there. 

How can contextual computing be used in HR? Well, imagine if your talent management system was connected to your marketing system. Perhaps one location or one product has a lot of deals in the work and you’ll need to staff up to meet demand. Instead of someone from marketing having to remember to tell you about the increase in demand, your talent management system already has alerted you and has put the jobs you’ll need to fill in your inbox to review. 

We like nice user interfaces and HCM still has some work to do on that front. But the future is smarter and contextually aware. Sort of like HAL 9000 without all the killing.