The New Digital Human Workplace #HRTechConf

The 2019 version of the HR Technology Conference and Exposition wrapped up about a week and a half ago, and as always it was a world class showcase of HR technology solutions, ideas, and trends in the space.  It’s a show that I wish every human resource practitioner and leader would attend at least once; it’s an area that too many view as “not their responsibility,” yet not staying up to date on the technologies to make our workforces more effective is a disservice to not only ourselves, but our organizations, employees, and profession as a whole.  There is so much power in leveraging the technologies available to bring out the best in our employees, to empower our leaders, and to drive performance and business outcomes.


But… it’s not just about the technology.


That’s a theme that has become more apparent, and has continued to evolve throughout the show over the past few years.  Of course there’s the obvious focus on technology and what it can do.  But I’m seeing the conversations evolve beyond that obvious topic.  It’s no longer just about which technologies can do what, it’s not more about how we transform our organizations into more digital entities, and in doing so how we can better focus on the human element of it all.


But wait… don’t digital and human contradict each other?


Well, actually… no, not at all.


You see, an organization that embraces digital actually embraces the human element, not suppresses it.  When we truly digitize, we focus on enabling processes and building systems that our people use because they want to, because they make their lives easier, more effective and efficient… not because they are processes and systems they are told they have to use.  Just like the technology we use in our daily lives is there where and when we need it to streamline our days, our enterprise technologies should mirror that idea.  It’s been called the “consumerization of workplace technology.”


When we utilize the right technologies, we have the opportunity to better enable the humans within our organizations.  It’s not just about picking a technology and putting into place, it’s about really considering what’s available and how it can transform the workplace experience for employees.


In his keynote at HR Tech, Josh Bersin referred to the idea that we now more than ever before exist in a service economy, one that provides more services than physical manufactured goods.  It’s an economy where knowledge driven jobs are more prominent, which makes the “people” element of an organization all the more important.  And a focus on people naturally leads to a focus on how technology can better enable our people.  So how exactly can it do that?  Here’s just a few ideas that surfaced during this year’s event:


  • Using technology to mine the people data we have and create more insightful people leaders; we can leverage the power of technology to help identify and match people to opportunities for career growth.
  • Using technology to alleviate employees’ stress. Everyone is overwhelmed, so let’s provide tools that are available in the flow of work to make their lives easier and their work days more efficient and effective.
  • Learning and skills are key to the future, so how do we use technology to figure out the skills and knowledge we already have within our organizations and leverage them while identifying what still needs to be developed.
  • Using technology and people data/analytics to drive action through “nudges” and suggestions; making them systems of productivity for employees and action platforms for managers.


The way we work has changed and continues to evolve.  Today’s employees are looking for a seamless experience like they have in real life, and they want to know your organization is embracing technology.


That is why every great HR leader needs to understand technology.


And that is why we will continue to need conferences like HR Tech more and more.




About the Author

Jennifer Payne

Jennifer Payne is a 20+ year human resources leader with a focus on researching, developing, and implementing talent management programs. She is a believer in lifelong learning and self-development who strives to stay current in HR trends, technology, best practices, and the future of work by sharing knowledge with and learning from HR colleagues and thought leaders across the country and throughout the world through writing, speaking, and involvement in various industry conferences and events.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter...



Digital has definitely effected our lives and helped in making it more advanced and convenient even HR tech is getting rapidly adapted. Thanks for sharing such helpful insights.


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Nick Rubright

Great article! I totally agree with you about technology and the workplace always changing. I’m excited to see what new technologies evolve from remote work and the pandemic.


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