5 Disruptive Workplace Technologies That Will Impact Human Resources

Earlier this year NYTimes.com writer Steve Lohr reported on a McKinsey report on 12 disruptive technologies will have an impact on the future. I felt these top 5 will have a major impact on the field of HR.

5 disruptive technologies that will impact HR

Mobile technology

This will be the largest disruptive technology with an economic impact of anywhere from $4 trillion to $11 trillion. We have already seen the major increase in “smart phones” and tablets that enable people to work from anywhere they can have Internet access. This is going to do nothing but increase. Eventually everyone will be linked by a mobile device of some shape that will bear little resemblance to today’s smart phones. All computing will be done on these devices. You need to be thinking about how mobile technology will change the various jobs, what kinds of training will be necessary and what kinds of risks will you have to deal with. You will also have to consider all the interfaces that employees have with HR and make sure they are mobile enabled.

Automation of knowledge work

I wrote about this subject as part of Future Friday: Why it will be important for jobs to be more “Human”. Much of this impact will most likely come in the job changes that will be required from the displacement of workers by technology. But at the same time Futurist Thomas Frey also predicts this will be one of the largest areas that will feed job creation. This will free a lot of human capital. People will have to transition to newly created jobs that will take advantage of their “humanness” by doing things that automation cannot do. I wrote in that post that now is the time to start thinking of jobs in terms of what is “human”. I emphasize that again.

Internet of things

Basically this is the world of “things” communicating with computers. One day you will have a tooth brush that will tell your dentist how healthy your mouth is and whether it is time for a visit. This will have an large economic impact with much of that not requiring human interaction. One of these technologies already in use is the RFID systems used by FedEx, UPS and Walmart. Because these technologies will require lower human interaction it will replace many jobs. It may also be used to track workers. What jobs might they replace in your organization?

The “Cloud”

Many HR people are skeptical of the cloud. Get over it. It is here to stay and will have a huge impact. Many HR systems have been developed and many more are being developed that will take advantage of the cloud. It will enable that mobile technology and will make your jobs easier. It has changed the world of work by allowing extreme flexibility about where people have to work, aka telecommuting.

Advanced robotics

Advance robotics has already had a major impact and that will do nothing but continue. I covered how we deal with this in HR in Out Thinking Robots is the Key to a Job in the Future.The disruptive aspect of this technology is that it has and will continue to supplant humans. We need to think about what our workers can do and what can they be trained to do, that will make them better than robots. This will often require decision-making in “fuzzy” situations.

These five disruptive technologies are not things that are just in the future. They are in the present, but you may not yet felt the effects on your organization. That is just a matter of time. So prepare now for this future. Be ready to respond and make your strategic impact by doing so. The good news is that even though this disruption will cost many human jobs that doesn’t mean they will be jobless. New industries will be created to take advantage of the available human capital. Our job is to make sure that people are trained in order to be readily used.

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Mike Haberman

Michael (Mike) D. Haberman, SPHR is a consultant, speaker, writer of HR Observations, and co-founder of Omega HR Solutions, Inc. After over 30 years in HR he got tired of the past and focuses here on the Future of HR. Connect with Mike.

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