Innovative HR: what technology trends are driving it?

In July APPNZ ran an online panel discussion about HR technology. Our first presenter was Tim Scott, from the UK. Tim wasn’t able to join us on the night however Angela Atkins, from the APPNZ Learning Advisory Panel had seen him present at the HR Advisors Conference in London and so talked through Tim’s key points.

In term’s of Tim’s background, he is an independent HR consultant with twenty years of generalist experience working across a variety of sectors. He has successfully led award-winning and innovative People and OD teams, working with senior management teams and Boards to transform organisations’ people practices. A self-confessed social media evangelist, Tim is active on Twitter as @TimScottHR and blogs at He has co-written several books, including “Putting Social Media to Work”, and is a regular conference and event speaker on work, social media and Human Resources. His aim is to help organisations find practical and real-world solutions to their people needs, providing pragmatic advice and support whilst retaining a focus on the “human” aspect of Human Resources.

Tim presenting

So what does Tim see as the 4 key technology trends driving HR innovation? And what are the key points he has around these?

  1. The Consumerism of work

Consumers have become very powerful and in terms of companies they deal with – they want immediacy, transparency, personalisation and flexibility. They can use their voice through Yelp or TripAdvisor to review whether companies or products are good or bad. When an employee recommends a product from your company, it is 8x more powerful than the company recommending its product.

  1. Social Media

Many companies initial response to social media (e.g. Facebook) was to ban it. However employees just access it via their phones. In fact when you ban or don’t use social, dark social happens. This is where employees are texting or communicating in other ways about the company. Innovative companies use social media as an HR tool to connect with and communicate with employees and this takes that communication into the light. 83% of adults are online during the day. Talk to them where they are!

  1. Automation and AI

35% of UK jobs will be at risk from automation in the next 10 years. So that will change HR. Tim also talked about where AI came from with IBM in the 70’s building a computer to beat the world chess champion. They have now developed Watson which can take someone’s symptoms, search all the information available on the internet and make a diagnosis. If Doctor’s role could be done by an AI, what about HR?

  1. The gig economy

The gig economy is everyone who is self-employed, freelancing, contracting. Everyone who is not on your payroll. Last year Tim joined the gig economy as an HR Consultant, so brought a Mac, grew a beard and started working in cafes! He did it by choice however a McKinsey report found there were a large portion of people who are reluctants, who would prefer a permanent job. Around 30% of the workforce are now in the gig economy and with recent decisions around Uber and courier drivers in the UK, this will be an issue that will change HR.


So from Tim’s presentation, what are the questions you may want to ask about your own HR team?

  • Are you replying quickly to queries (consumers want immediacy)?
  • Are you listening to what your consumers want and adjusting your HR product accordingly?
  • Are your values transparent?
  • Are you personalising your HR for each employee?
  • Are you using social (Facebook, Twitter etc) to connect and communicate with employees?
  • Is your culture strong enough that employees recommend your products or you as a company to work for?
  • What parts of HR could you automate?
  • Could you use AI in HR? Where and how?
  • What extra value could you add once you’ve automated?
  • Have you planned for what impact on your workplace automation may have?
  • How will the gig economy affect your workforce? What action might you need to take?


Next week we’ll look at Social Media as an HR tool which Kylie Telford presented on. If you’d like to receive updates about APPNZ then just sign up by clicking here.


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