The importance of strategic thinking for exploiting big data
'There are many different kinds of HR trends. They relate to areas like working culture and commitment, learning and development, HR analysis and well-being at work. The trends relate to almost everything to do with HR. Their impact is nevertheless reduced by their sheer number; the important thing is to analyse them in some way', says Professor Kristiina Mäkelä from the School of Business.
Professor Mäkelä analyses and structures trends based on the parameter of change.
'There are two kinds of change: incremental and transformative. Incremental change takes place when we improve what is already being done. Transformative change is when some aspect of HR is fundamentally changed. Examples of incremental change would be personnel commitment, learning and development, and change management. Transformative changes, on the other hand, are connected with digitalisation and they fundamentally change the HR sector. These include, for example, e-HRM, cloud services and gamification.'
Digitalisation is connected with e-HRM, performance management, and talent management
E-HRM is one trend, where digitalisation is clearly visible. E-HRM refers to technological HR systems and applications which are used to facilitate HR tasks and increase their efficiency. Harvard Professor of Strategy Clayton Christensen has conducted research on how industrial sectors change with innovation. He has found that small, new operators with a specific product focus make the old technology and procedures obsolete. When their expertise grows, they are able to meet the demands of ever larger clients.
At the heart of HR digitalisation is also performance management. Forerunners in this area are experimenting with agile, light-weight approaches such as transferring from processes to individualisation. Yearly plans are being abandoned and planning and implementation is instead being carried out in real time. In addition, the focus is being shifted from assessing previous performance to assessing the future. Talent management involves focusing on certain strategically important personnel resources, and in particular on finding, motivating and retaining individuals who are gifted in those areas and thus seen as able to occupy key roles in the business both now and in the future.
Naturally, Professor Kristiina Mäkelä mentions also the importance of big data, which refers to the increased, broader use in decision-making of both currently held and newly obtained data.
'The most challenging and also most important thing is to think through what it is we want to achieve with the data analysis. The value of the data is in how we make use of it. The importance of strategic thinking is central', she emphasised.
Professor Kristiina Mäkelä was speaking on change trends in HR at the 'Uudista ja Uudistu 2015 (Reform and Renew)' event organised by human resource management group HENRY ry. and held in Wanha Satama on 24 November. Professor Mäkelä urged the HR professionals present to think about whether there is present in their teams and in themselves both digital expertise and strategic expertise, as both are needed. Her top reading recommendation for professionals in the field was Harvard Business Review's article from July 2015 entitled 'It's time to blow up HR and build something new'. In addition, it is also worth following HR-related news on Twitter in order to keep up with developments in the field.