Tech-tonic shifts in HR : An Oracle insight

With an experience of over two decades in the HR industry, Shakun Khanna leads the Human Capital Management Application, Asia Pacific at Oracle Corporation. He is also the Co-founder of Consentus Advisory, a speciality HR consulting firm. In his earlier roles, Shakun has been the Head of IBM Smarter Workforce and also Head of Employee Engagement & Leadership Development Practice for Gallup Consulting and worked across Asia with clients from diverse industries.   

He has been a consultant to many Fortune 500 Organizations on areas of Talent Management, Organization Design & Transformation, Employee Engagement, Leadership Development and Succession Planning.


ObserveNow caught up with him recently to understand the seismic shifts in HR Tech, his thoughts on tech in HR, and how Oracle is planning to upgrade itself to staff the upcoming boom of millennial. 


Edited excerpts from his interview. 


Q- What is the role of AI in transforming HR? 


HR is no longer a custodian of records pertaining to employees but plays an important strategic role in helping the organisations achieve their vision. Technology has a huge role to play in this transformation. HR has cutting edge technology at their disposal, particularly merging technologies like AI, ML, blockchain which enables them to take disruptive decisions for the organisation. 


In HR, AI is enabling a more intuitive and engaging experience for the employees. AI could be leveraged to provide tailored training and development recommendations based on each individual employee’s performance objectives and challenges. And, AI-based Chatbot’s enabling quicker customer service on social media can also be used within the office environment to answer routine HR questions – about company policy, leave days remaining and so on – so that everyone can save time and spend more time getting deeply engaged with their core work.


Q- How is Oracle India helping its customers upgrade themselves to handle the upcoming boom of the millennial workforce? 


Millennial is a talented and dynamic generation and are completely different from any of the previous generations. Millennial are not looking for “just a job” or a steady climb up the corporate ranks. They want much more from their lives.  They want to do something that feels worthwhile, they consider the values of a company when considering a job, and they are motivated by much more than money. Oracle offers a rich cloud platform to drive employee collaboration, engagement and mobility, all with the intuitiveness and ease of consumer solutions while providing the security, compliance and scalability that companies need and expect from enterprise-grade solutions. Oracle cloud solutions for Digital Experience and Mobile are proven to drive innovation and agility for businesses and, productivity and satisfaction for employees and their ecosystem.


Q- How can technology today play a role in finding the right talent and lowering attrition rates in organization?


Savvy organizations use technology to stay ahead of the competition when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent. HR leaders are being tasked with broadening their approach to Human Capital Management, incorporating concepts and practices that were once the primary domain of marketing, legal, or chief executives. The practice of HR is also transforming from being a mere cost centre to a value generator, driving business growth through holistic talent development. HR is evolving to increasingly leverage technology to improve efficiency and provide insight into an organization’s most valuable source of productivity. Organizations use this insight to help leaders understand success parameters and their organization’s talent capabilities.

The HR function will be in an ideal position to help the company retain its most valuable assets – its people. UST Global, which provides technology and innovation services to businesses across 25 different countries, has improved process efficiency by 30-40% since working with Oracle. Employees can now perform the same tasks with 20-40% less time, leading to a significant shift in employees’ customer satisfaction, and reducing onboarding time by half.  


Q- Give us insights into a few seismic shifts in HR tech?


HR, over the years, have also imbibed the ways of technology. However, rather reactively. Traditionally, and in some pockets even today, HR looks at technology as a tool to solve problems – post facto. From the automation of ‘Time & Attendance’ capturing to enabling modern-day learning, adoption of HR technology has been triggered by challenges that needed resolution. HR has so far has also been insulated from disruptions. The marriage of emerging technologies and experience economy has created enterprise applications that are changing the workplace. HR Tech has also shifted its course to become the most potent tool of mitigating business disruptions. The DNA of HR as a function is being re-written – rewritten with technology. Broadly, some of the shifts are as following:

·         Shift 1: Enablement to experience - Experience Economy is all about delivering an exceptional experience to your customers. Same experience needs to be delivered to your internal customers – your employees.

·         Shift 2: Analytics to insights - Modern businesses don’t expect HR to provide data or its analysis. They seek actionable insights that can help them solve emerging business problems.

·         Shift 3: On-demand to proactive - Moving from on-demand service delivery to proactive employee delight, it will need artfully create consumer-grade HR applications that will work on the principles of digital marketing.  

·         Shift 4: Integrated to Embedded- Modern-day employee experience and organizational enablement is possible by using a strong foundation that has the best of technologies ‘embedded’ and NOT integrated.

·         Shift 5: Artificial intelligence to adaptive intelligence - The right HR technology must use adaptive intelligence to ensure that the systems, processes, languages and experiences are all tailored for the organization– proactively.

·         Shift 6: Friendly UI to no UI -Most Digital HR initiatives have become glorified UI upgrades. However, the lack of natural language processing will render such applications useless. Digital HR platform needs to be innately designed to work with natural language processing.


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