Astonishingly, when everyone from the Prime Minister to business gurus are urging every company to put an e-strategy in place, many HR directors are still in denial over the importance of the Internet to their business.
The survey findings of a sample of 250 HR directors by new media business consultancy Maverick & Strong at the Human Resources Forum 2000, last month, showed that just 5 per cent of HR directors fell into the peerless category; while 45 per cent were directionless, 25 per cent visionless, and 15 per cent were clueless.
Yet for HR professionals to retain a relevant and central role within business they need to get to grips with the latest technology. The technological changes which are impacting on every sector of business will eradicate the HR function and transfer the management of people on to line managers.
The power of the Internet is that it can automate and distribute much of the work that HR does at present: recruitment, interviewing, selection panels, career counselling, and payroll can all be done on-line and by third parties as an outsourced service. The administrative function will also cease to exist as employees will update their own records via the company’s intranet.
This will mean that the role of the HR professional will shift to managing outsourced contracts and defining the culture of the organisation – HR managers will need to become more employee-focused and more outsourcing-focused. Trying to understand the mechanics of the technology is a waste of time – what is required is a change of mindset in order to adapt to new business models and practices.
As Max Mckeown, e-customer guru and managing director of Maverick & Strong, points out, “You can choose to be replaced by outsourced services or surpassed by your competition.
“Alternatively, you could transform your role,” he says. “You can be at the forefront of designing an organisation that is fit for the 21st century. You can be the driving force in delivering structures, skills, and services that will make your company leaders in their market.”