The new data economy presents countless opportunities for organisations to assess their positions in the market, identify new openings and buying trends, get closer to their customers, and make their supply chains more efficient and cost effective.
But it also affords them an unprecedented opportunity to look inwards and gain new insights into the enterprise, how well it is working, how successfully human resources are being used, and how people's skills are being - or could be being - developed.
The cloud advantage
Via the cloud, employees can build internal connections, seek guidance, check in regularly, and even design their own career paths, rather than simply react passively to changes as they occur.
In this way, responsible Human Capital Management (HCM) can help unlock staff potential and talent, reduce employee churn, and maximise workers' loyalty to - and trust in - the organisation. After all, finding new, skilled staff can be expensive and time-consuming, with competitors always in the market for the same talented individuals.
Identifying rising stars internally who could step up and take on greater responsibility is one way to develop a broad, deep skills base, in preference to buying in those capabilities. But where is the data coming from to inform and back such decisions?
Human Capital Management
The answer is: right across the organisation, if the tools are there to access it. That is one of the key benefits of Human Capital Management platforms.
Via a cloud platform approach, HR professionals can measure engagement and perceived company culture against internal surveys, create succession plans for critical jobs, retain top performers, and reveal internal opportunities to ambitious individuals.
Adopting this approach is a far cry from the actions of irresponsible organisations who deploy technology merely to wring every last drop of effort and productivity out of their staff.
Productivity is important to a successful economy, but that does not mean seeing workers simply as a means to an end, rather than as skilled, talented individuals to encourage - and to help plot a career path with the organisation.
What better advertisement for the enterprise than happy, productive employees who feel valued and appreciated, and who sing the praises of the mission, services, or products?
With human resources, workforce planning, recruitment, and talent management all working together within a single cloud platform, HR managers and other decision-makers can gain real insights into teams and organisational performance.
HR management, staff reporting and analytics, compliance, audit, workforce planning, recruitment, talent management, training, payment, payroll management, time off, and expenses are just some of the functions that are available within a holistic HCM system.
Steps to the future
In the past, HR professionals had to manage most of these tasks separately - and often manually - in discrete applications, but cloud platforms now offer the potential to draw all of them together within a single system that is accessible across the entire organisation.
Not only that, but it can be accessible from employees' chosen devices too, as they use them to work more flexibly, integrating their work with their daily lives. In this way, employees can be actively and dynamically involved in their own performance measurement and career development too.
In turn, this allows HR managers to make better business decisions based on real evidence, deep analytics, and contextual insights. More, as part of wider cloud platforms, such applications are able to interface with Finance, Payroll, and other internal systems - as long as the data is not siloed in dozens of different repositories.
By pulling all of these data streams together, managers can see what is really driving metrics via contextual reports and dashboards, providing real insights into organisational health. This could mean drilling down into something as granular as individual transactions and applying augmented analytics to them.
Questions of balance
However, one risk of applying technology as a blunt instrument is that workforces become more machine-like, constantly comparing metrics, performance targets, timetables, and spreadsheets. Human beings are not robots, and there are risks in inadvertently treating them no differently to automated assets and bots.
After all, the stated purpose of many so-called Industry 4.0 technologies is to free human beings to do what humans do best - not treat them as cogs in a well-oiled machine.
Cloud HCM platforms can help HR managers and other decision-makers to optimise the workforce, hit targets, make strategic and operational plans, adapt quickly to change, plan hires, and analyse attrition rates to build an accurate picture of the workforce.
It is a question of degree: using technology responsibly to help human beings run the organisation, not using software to automate every aspect of the enterprise.