More HR Technology Knowledge Needed for Future HR Leaders

Sometimes ideas have to sit with me for a while in order to really have an impact.  I had this happen recently while attending Oracle HCM World.  While there, I was hearing from many seasoned leaders in the HR industry and it struck me that while I know about technology and the importance for HR leaders, many practitioners do not.

What is worse is my fear that HR technology is still not a major focus for college students studying to be our future HR leaders.  In the 1990s I obtained a MA in HR Management but was not required to take any coursework on HR technology. Not much has changed today.

So, what’s one way to vent about my issue with the state of HR education today?  Turn to Twitter, of course.

Twitter Trish ScreenShot


A good friend and colleague, Dr. Matthew Stollak, replied and then wrote a blog post following our Twitter exchange.  Dr. Stollak shared that according to a 2013 SHRM Survey of 372 HR faculty (out of 1,723 invited to participate) backed this up, with 61% of faculty citing Human Resource Information Systems was a perceived deficiency in HR training offered to undergraduate HR students (Risk Management, and Mergers and Acquisitions were the 2nd and 3rd cited deficiencies).

Not surprised?  I wasn’t either.  It’s a sad state that while many leaders who do understand HR technology recognize the gap, changing and improving the state of education in the HR technology arena is not moving fast enough to keep up with the needs. Following this exchange and Dr. Stollak’s post, Steve Boese, the co-Chairman of the HR Technology Conference, started a discussion in the HR Technology Conference group on LinkedIn and asked the question there.  Quite a few influencers in the HR industry weighed in and I encourage you to check out the full discussion here.

The question became what topics would need to be included in a college textbook (or course) about HR Technology?  Since technology is such a dynamic area, having a traditional textbook may not be the way to go to best reach students and keep the material current.  Using a variety of e-books, videos and provider demonstrations could replace the traditional text in a course of this nature.

Here are some of the areas I believe are critical for HR leaders and practitioners growing in the field to know about HR technology:

  • HR policy around existing and emerging technologies
  • HR system selection including process, procedure and ROI
  • Analyzing data to influence business decisions
  • Understanding system architecture
  • System integration
  • How to manage a project or product implementation
  • Implementation A to Z
  • User Adoption strategies

In addition, the course should also cover basics around tying technology decisions to organizational strategy and needs.  It would also need to cover communication, conflict resolution, change leadership and basic project management.

What do you think? What else would you include in a course to prepare our future HR leaders to face the technological decisions they will need to make in their career? Please share your ideas …


Trish McFarlane, VP of Human Resource Practice and Principal Analyst
Twitter: @TrishMcFarlane

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