By Abhijit Bhaduri
Everyone in the organization has it. Finance has Fin Tech. Marketing has Mar Tech. Why can I not have my very own HR Tech? Every year I wait for Santa Claus to give me my gift. And every year I discover that the hype cycle was racing ahead of reality. Will 2017 will finally be the year when HR Tech emerges? Probably not! There is a lot of investment in HR Tech. $65m across 47 deals has funded several ideas. Globally, more than 700 deals have raised more than $4.3bn in funds. So why am I not ready to announce 2017 as the year of HR Tech?
After the $26bn that Microsoft paid for LinkedIn alone is bigger than all the money we have in HR Tech. Facebook@Work could be another game changer in reshaping how we collaborate. The partnership of Slack and Salesforce could be powerful in more ways than we could imagine. So there is hope. But to be realistic, we have to understand the 6 phases of development that all tech will go through. HR Tech is no exception.
Where is HR in the 6D model?
Peter Diamandis’s 6D model of exponential technology talks of the growth of technology from digitization to democratization in six steps. The first step is to Digitize any product or service. Turning the physical object into a language of 0 and 1 gives us the ability to use the power of computers to modify, build and distribute the product (or service) in a boundaryless fashion. For example, digital photography allows us to distribute photos to millions at zero cost. So, digitization is the first step in leveraging technology.
Step two is called the Deceptive phase. 3D printing has been around since 1981. The digital camera was created in December 1975 by Steve Sasson. The 8 pound camera recorded 0.01 megapixel black and white photos to a cassette tape. The first photograph took 23 seconds to create. MIT set up its Artificial Intelligence Lab in 1959. Between 1959 and becoming available as Siri in our phones in 2011, there were 50 years of development. This is when the media and consumers lost interest. This is precisely the reason why people are caught unaware when technology glides into phase 3.
The digital tsunami is really not about technology — it is about mindsets
The third phase is called the Disruptive phase. Technology starts to get adopted. Old jobs get eliminated. New jobs get created to leverage the still evolving tech. AI is being trained to do everything from recognizing human faces (they do it better than we can); predict outcomes of trials (AI is better than us); they are writing financial reports better than journalists and diagnosing cancer better than any doctor. That is disruptive. Driverless cars, synthetic biology, AI, Internet of Things are all in this phase.
After disruption, technology moves to the fourth phase when it Dematerializes what was once a physical object. Look at your mobile and you will see how many physical objects (compass, GPS, flashlight, camera…) are now apps. These have all moved to the Dematerialization phase of technology.
Once a product is dematerialized, it moves rapidly into the fifth phase – Demonetization. No this is not about legal tender in 500 and 1000 rupee denominations being made useless. Once a physical object is dematerialized, it is available for free. We do not pay more for a mobile because it has a flashlight or compass or GPS.
Abhijit Bhaduri works as the Chief Learning Officer for the Wipro group. He lives in Bangalore, India. Prior to this he led HR teams at Microsoft, PepsiCo, Colgate and Tata Steel and worked in India, SE Asia and US. He is on the Advisory Board of the prestigious program for Chief Learning Officers that is run by the Univ of Pennsylvania.
Visit http://www.abhijitbhaduri.com/ and follow me on Twitter @AbhijitBhaduri