Red-Hot HR Technology… Thank You Internet

disruptI believe I have mentioned before, one of my fave HR futurists is Josh Bersin (founder of HR consultancy Bersin now owned by Deloitte). And now, having just completed seven industry conferences in a matter of weeks, he’s come to some conclusions on the direction HR Technology is headed and once again, from my perspective, it’s right on the money.

His recent Forbes article, The 9 Hottest Trends In HR Technology … And Many Are Disruptive is a must-read in my opinion.

His 9 trends are:

  1. The Convergence of Talent Management and ERP is Here
  2. User Experience is The New Battleground
  3. “Taps Replace Clicks” – Mobile is The Platform, Not A Platform
  4. Big Data Analytics Tools Have Arrived
  5. HR Vendor-Provided Middleware is Becoming a Standard
  6. Evolving Assessment Science and Big Data is Changing The Way We Source
  7. MOOCs and New Learning Modalities
  8. Video and Social Everywhere
  9. Watch for Wearable Computing and The Internet of Things

I won’t bother to explain each in detail as I can’t improve on Josh’s article. But what really struck me is just how pervasive the Internet and digital/cloud/data/etc. tech has become. Ironic that I should be at all surprised given that we formed Talegent specifically to apply these emerging technologies to practice of talent measurement – but there it is.

Every one the trends Bersin identified is based on easy accessibility of information… and making getting at that information more accessible for humans. The evolution of assessment science may be the sole exception as it is based on greater insight into humans and not necessarily Internet dependent – but that evolution has in fact come about mostly as a result of greater computing power to run exceptionally complex analytics.

Like Bersin, I too have been closely following the attempts to apply big data to identify and assess talent. It will be a tough nut to crack. All the research – including a seminal Harvard Business study – has shown that having past experience in a given job role is not a great predictor of future performance in a similar role. And big data also collects the scattered data leavings of what you have done in the past. So how then, to determine which of those “archaeological” fragments to collect and then how to assemble and translate them to come up with something predictive as it relates to job performance – that is the question.

I don’t doubt that armies of data analysts will find correlations… and come up with logarithms to make those insights usable. But I’m not losing sleep over it. In theory, the more different ways there are of looking at candidates, the greater the insight one can get, and the greater the predictive accuracy in determining the right candidates to hire. But figuring out how to harness all that information in a way that is practical, easy to use and scalable is going to be one herculean task. Of course, it may all be for nought if robots end up doing all the work while we frolic… but that is a different technology trend.

If your Applicant Tracking System won’t differentiate you, what’s a recruiter to do?

Josh Bersin, Principal of Bersin by Deloitte, just released a provocative post. According to recent research conducted by Deloitte, Human Resource Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) – now reportedly used by 60% of companies – are no longer the strategic tool they once were. Per his article:

“…while you do need an ATS to run your recruiting process well, the selection and implementation of an ATS is unlikely alone to bring you to world-class…

So what can help differentiate talent acquirers? “Assessment tools and technologies” is prominent on the list Bersin provides —which is especially heartening after recent predictions of assessment’s demise (see my last blog post).

Want to learn the other “new areas of differentiation and high value in talent acquisition”? You should read Bersin’s article.

Employment Tests are Becoming Irrelevant… and Humankind is Becoming Extinct… but not yet


What better way to kick off our new blog on all things employment assessment related than with a prognostication that our industry is not long for this world.  Maybe if I write real fast I can catch up before it’s dead.

But seriously… 

I have closely watching the emergence of big data and am convinced that in time, recruiters and we psychometric assessment professionals will figure out ways to source and screen talent based on publicly available data we’re able to scrape. Does anybody  doubt LinkedIn will begin to flex its potential in this arena?

What prompted these musings at this particular time is an excellent article/blog posting by Dr. Charles Handler, president and founder of and a thought leader in our space whose insights usually evoke hearty nods from me. Employment Tests are Becoming Irrelevant for Predicting Job Success is an excellent read. Handler identifies three ways in which data is slowly killing the employment assessment test as we know it:

  1. The Impact of Publicly Available “Free-range” Data
  2. The Rise of Structured, Sanctioned, Verifiable, Shareable Personal Data
  3. An Increase in the Quality and Quantity of Job Performance Data and Company Information

If you have any doubt as to the validity of these trends, then check out this New York Times article, or this article from Business Insider.


Does the availability of data necessarily mean we will develop the tools to master it? Not necessarily. Consider it was not that long ago when it was promised that Scantrack data of consumers’ grocery purchases would unlock all the secrets of buying. While scanned data has provided some useful predictors for data mining and targeting (see this Forbes article on Target), it has not removed all uncertainty from grocery marketing. Nor do I think will publicly available online data be the end-all solution for recruiting. No doubt, it will be great for discriminating on certain competencies. But in our assessments we have seen plenty of cases where people who looked nearly identical on paper in terms of education and experience and more tested vastly different on certain cognitive abilities or leadership traits. And I highly doubt we will be able to find data proxies to replace all the measures we test for.  (Of course, this could all change in the coming singularity… but that’s subject for another posting).

Mmmm... big data. But does it really have ALL the answers for recruiting?

Mmmm… big data. But does it really have ALL the answers for recruiting?

It may become used for more niche purposes, or for in-depth profiling rather than for screening, but I think there will always be a place for assessment testing. In fact, about half of our new clients are companies just making the transition from manual resume review to automated online psychometric testing. So I won’t be donning my mourning suit anytime soon.