Talking HR Technology Strategy with Katherine Jones, Partner and Director of Research at Mercer

In preparation for HR Tech World Spring 2016, we spoke to Katherine Jones, Partner and Director of Research at Mercer, about HR technology strategies including HR data protection, analytics and change management.

Meet Katherine Jones @HRTECHWORLD in London on the 15th/16th of March. Get your tickets today and save £100.

HRMS World: You moved to Mercer as a partner just last October – tell us about what you’ve become involved in there.

KJ: I have been a market analyst for over 15 years, in companies that provided research on the technology and business research to help clients make business better. Here I have the opportunity to continue that mission by continuing to conduct market research and capitalizing on Mercer’s rich storehouse of data in human capital management. We plan to provide business professionals with the information support and insights they need to thrive at work.

HRMS World: A Mercer priority is helping HR become “a value-adding strategic player” – how would you say technology furthers that goal?

KJ: The answer is many-pronged: today’s technology is making the tasks of people management within business both easier and more effective, while at the same time allowing HR professionals to make better use of their time by alleviating the tedium of paper-based processes, and enabling the reallocation of time to the more strategic aspects of human capital management. And therein lies the value.

HRMS World: You’re here at the HR Tech Congress speaking about protecting HR data – in your opinion, what’s the biggest threat to HR data right now?

KJ: While much of the conversation is about malware and Rootkit attacks, we need to recognize that people are the problem – whether malicious malcontents outside the organization or innocent employees who were unaware of the ramifications of their actions. We need to begin with education, with stronger internal and external monitoring and controls, and with more trained cybersecurity professionals on the job. For HR professionals, much of this may seem out of their control – so in my talk I focus in part on the relationship between the providers of HR and talent software and their customers – I think more could be done at this juncture to better understand how to mitigate cyber-risk.

HRMS World: When it comes to HR software, analytics seems a permanent feature on the annual “What’s Hot?” lists – what needs to happen for it become ‘business as usual’?

KJ: To a certain, albeit small extent, we have moved the needle from metrics and reporting to real “analytics,” but widespread adoption of the use of analytics in making key business decisions seems stuck in neutral. It is far too glib to say that HR professionals just aren’t “numbers people,” a view I abhor, rather we need to demonstrate the business value of analytics beyond numbers for numbers sake to its application for increasing business value.

HRMS World: With an upcoming SAPInsider session on change management plans, what would you see as the biggest challenge for organizations implementing new HR technology?

KJ: I spent a long time researching implementation success and failure – and change management was always at the heart. Even when companies know better, they skimp by undervaluing the importance of managing change, whether in new implementations, corporate reorganizations, or in M&A activity. There are best practices around successful change, particularly when facing the potential disruption of new applications. And the biggest challenge? Often it comes down to communicating with the stakeholders – repeatedly.

HRMS World: The cloud and SaaS systems are an example of a revolution in HR software (and software in general) - where do you see the next revolution in the world of HR technology?

KJ: I see the Cloud as a delivery method, one that makes sense technically and economically. Our next revolution, however, will come when we actually use the technology at hand to change the very nature of work, to eliminate tedious corporate “make-work,” and create an environment when employees can feel valued in whatever level of work they do. Given the technology to accomplish what employees are supposed to accomplish more expeditiously will go a long way to improving both productivity and engagement.

HRMS World: Finally, as Director of Research, what can you tell us about Mercer’s future projects?

KJ: We have so many exciting projects. I am sure you have seen our new research on ‘When Women Thrive,” launched at Davos and causing quite a stir. This research will be ongoing. We are commencing technology research on HR and Talent solutions in the Cloud. In addition, you will see new research from us on global employer trends and sentiment, and interesting findings from employees, also globally. And it’s no surprise that those employees and employers often see the workplace somewhat differently!

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Dave Foxall

About the author…

Dave has worked as HR Manager for the Ministry of Justice for a number of years, he now writes on a broad range of topics including jazz music, and, of course, the HRMS software market.

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Dave Foxall