There are two kinds of software applications that I find when I look around. One, applications that are business-centric and the other, knowledge centric. HR applications should be knowledge-centric. However, most are not.
Payment related applications, location based applications, CRM applications and such enable efficient business process. They help shorten the business cycle, take the consumer or user, provide better decision making opportunities and in the process expand the business to newer users (and so grow the business). Thoughts have crossed me on why some of the applications are doing better than the others, though being in the same space. Why are some applications being preferred by users more than others? Is it the look and feel of the applications, the UI/UX, simplicity or is it something else? These factors are important for adaptation. One definitely would not even try an application if it is not easy to use or if it does not feel good. But that is just the phase of adaptation. After this phase what truly differentiates is what works better in making life easier, better, less costlier, more meaningful by giving better choices and such.
From this I infer that the applications need to have very very good understanding of the business processes that the application serves. A good understanding of every aspect of the process – the understanding of the behavior of the different sets of customers, the behavior of the various sets of involved parties in the ecosystem (vendors, supply chain, IT…). The ones that have a deeper understanding of the businesses and incorporate them into their applications excel. Delivering food in different places is different. The mechanisms (traffic, time….) that applies in one city may not apply in another. One needs to go deeper and maybe wider to get a good understanding of the business operations and incorporate them into the applications. And yes, things keep changing including behaviors and expectations. So they need to adapt too.
Then there are other kinds of applications. Those that are knowledge-centric. These are typically applications that help better decision making on areas that need knowledge of a particular subject or domain. Say for example an application on accounting or in taxation in particular. There are rules and guidelines (and they keep changing) for calculation of taxes. A good taxation application would be one where the user provides the necessary information and the application using the knowledge on taxation presents the tax to be paid or even maybe options to save on tax. They are just not information base, they apply the knowledge in the particular domain. These applications are not just giving write-ups on taxation but actually doing the calculation of tax for the user.
HR applications should be knowledge-centric. It should be enable HR, employees, managers and others in the decision making process; decisions related to talent acquisition, talent engagement, talent development and such. However, most HR systems are applications that enable information management, storage, and flow; not actually in processing of information to enable better decisions. They have good forms, workflows, reports, administration mechanisms and such but lack the knowledge and knowledge processing capabilities. But this needs to change. An important way to make this change happen would be for practitioners and experts in HR to productize their knowledge into applications. Asking for the right information and applying the algorithms to making the choices on decision will help truly leverage human capital. And as in any good knowledge-centric application it needs to organically evolve to become more and more intelligent to provide meaningful choices even as the environment evolves or changes.
There is phenomenal scope for such productizing of HR into knowledge-centric applications. Maybe HR practitioners can capitalize on this opportunity in the human capital space.