Digital transformation is being experienced by customers, employees, vendors and partners in the ecosystem at varying degrees through a variety of digital applications. Human resources (HR) professionals too are being besieged with a host of digital technology innovations in every aspect of HR functioning, from recruiting to learning to compensation to knowledge management. Internet of Things (IoT) is one such innovation that has until recently been mostly associated with systems related to manufacturing and products designed for the external market place or customers.
However, IoT has now entered into the workplace and presents several exciting possibilities to the HR domain and employees to engage in new ways and rethink their work environment. IoT is a complex concept to relate to as the phrase does not accurately capture the idea behind several smart objects that are connected to one another. There are two key elements brought together in IoT—medium of communication and connectedness with growing number of smart objects. As the connectivity expands the capabilities of the objects and the connected system, it helps generate valuable data whose analysis provides extremely valuable insights to decision makers.
Therefore, in the context of HR domain, there is an urgent need to develop its own strategy and capabilities to interface with multiple dimensions related to connectedness. The connectivity devices that employees use such as phones and tablets are yet to be used to their fullest potential to serve an organisation’s needs. While many organisations are working round the clock to deliver superior consumer experience, designing similar employee experience has not yet received much attention.
HR function has the opportunity to be distinctive by thinking through how sensors and devices could add value to their own services and develop own apps to connect with the IoT. The consumer-friendly lighting and temperature control systems could be adapted for work environment as well . The systems designed for smart buildings to adapt to varying temperatures and lighting requirements could now be connected to the phones of individuals, thus increasing employee productivity.
Further, IoT enabled building systems could provide real-time access to the location of employees, the analysis of which could help derive insights on workflows and efficiencies related to workflows. Electronic calendars could be integrated with the office networks to automatically book meeting rooms, customise comfort parameters in such rooms ahead of meetings and optimise occupancy factors.
Wearables associated with fitness are being considered by some organisations as novel tools to motivate employees stay healthy and fit. Location trackers as experienced by customers of Uber could also be useful for tracking individual’s whereabouts. Assignment of routes or delivery loads could be decided based on the fatigue factors of salesforce or drivers and thus avoid accidents. IoT application could help in enhancing safety and security, these being the important cornerstones for the HR function. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are the other exciting technologies which help HR function in recruitments, learning and testing.
When employees bring connected ‘things’ to the workplace such as fitness devices, organisations have to be alert with the privacy considerations and their own data security. Being part of the IoT ecosystem within and outside the organisation, there would be humungous data that would get generated with respect to how people perform on the jobs. Therefore HR function should develop the capability to deal with Big Data to derive insights that could shape the organisation strategy.
What is noteworthy about IoT is that there is no need for a wait for it to arrive or mature, it is already happening around us. It is upto the organisation and HR function to be conscious about it and start taking advantage of its presence by getting connected to the ecosystem.
The writer is CEO, Global Talent Track, a corporate training solutions company