How to make the right high tech choice

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With more vendor and product choices than ever before, how can you make sure you get the best solution for you?

We live in a world where it’s increasingly getting tougher and tougher to keep up with the pace of technological change. From ‘big data’ to cloud-based solutions, the range of options open to us as businesses and consumers proliferate at a mind boggling rate. More and more vendors offering more and more software that promises to make our lives easier, simpler, even more efficient.

Amid all this technological change it’s vitally important that HR seizes the initiative. People remain one of the largest costs to any business, and any new development which allows us to manage that talent pool more effectively is going to be well worth exploring.

But as the range of technology-led solutions grows exponentially, how can you make sense of the plethora of possible answers it could provide to every possible HR question? As the range of choices grows, how do you make sure you get what you and your organisation needs - now and for the future?

While the answer to that isn’t simple, there are a range of questions you should consider which will guide you in making the right decision for your business.

What’s our culture? All organisations have a culture, a look, a feel. Any technology you introduce needs to fit into that set of values which makes up the organisation’s culture. If any tech product is more likely to disturb or even threaten that ‘culture’ than benefit it, you’ll have a problem. It will also need to sit alongside existing technology systems which drive finance, sales, and marketing. Integration is more important than disintegration.

Is it consumer friendly? Smart phone technology is now almost universal. We’re used to touch screens and the technology which drives them. So does the experience of using this ‘business’ product match the expectations which any ordinary consumer might have? In short, is it as intuitive and easy to use any of the apps you might have on your phone? If it is, then people will use it. If it isn’t, then they are more likely to resist its introduction and it will fail.

Is it future-proof? If we know one fundamental about technology it is that it changes. What’s the best solution today may very quickly not be the best one in a year or even just six months. So does the technology have the capacity and flexibility to grow and evolve as your organisation grows and evolves? An ‘off the peg’ solution might work, but for how long? Isn’t it better to have an answer that continues to develop and expand whatever issues arise down the line?

Is the vendor listening? Related to the above question, and equally vital. Ask yourself: how involved are we in this solution? Because if you’re not involved, if your not part of a fully engaged community, how can you be sure that the technology is really going to meet the need you have? A good vendor should take time to listen and fully understand the issues you face - and have the flexibility to work with you to overcome those issues.

There is no doubt at all in my mind that technology has the potential to give HR some very powerful tools to help it drive any business forward. That said, the sheer range of potential ‘solutions’ in the marketplace requires some careful thinking - and asking the right questions. Change is a constant, but provided we accept that, and are prepared, picking the best needle for your business from the haystack of technological options available need not be as difficult as it at first seems.

Bob Rehill is CEO and founder of Bob Rehill & Associates

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