Editor's note: This article was initially published and can be viewed in its entirety in the inaugural publication of HR.Com's "Core HR, HRIS & Payroll Excellence" magazine. A virtual presentation of this topic's material will be hosted at HR.Com (http://ow.ly/yFF6o) by Damon Lovett on July 10, 2014 from  11:00 AM - 12:00 PM CST.

It’s like something out of a sci-fi thriller.  Everyone is implanted with a chip that dictates our actions, tracks our every move, and eventually determines our expiration date.  Forget aliens – it’s our own government, man!  Ok, I’m clearly over-exaggerating - the government can’t seem to figure out how to fund NASA much less get their arms around an un-imaginable fantasy like the Matrix…or can they? 

The reality is that the Internet of Things is happening and regardless of your belief in alien abductions or government mandates, all of it is self-inflicted.  The bottom line:  People need people!  The most basic human need is to connect and share with other who have like-minded interests.  Rapid advancements in mobile devices, intuitive apps, social media and cloud-based service delivery has removed all the barriers & borders and allows us to quickly and easily connect, analyze, collaborate, and create communities of interest.  And this is just the tip of the iceberg.  Like it or not, the world is now connected and it would take a natural disaster of biblical proportions to stop it. 


Not unlike our satirical example above, the “Internet of Things” concept was first conceived in the 1990’s with the thought that we could tag everything (and everybody) with identifiers and connect/track them in real time via Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID), bar/QR codes, etc.  RFID has been the savior of the Manufacturing & Distribution sector as it has opened up supply lines, allowed for real-time tracking of inventory, and provides trends related to products offered and consumed.  Besides RFID, the tagging of things may be achieved through such technologies as near field communication, barcodes, QR codes and digital watermarking.  Equipping all objects in the world with identifying devices or machine-readable identifiers could transform daily life.  For instance, business may no longer run out of stock or generate waste products, as involved parties would know which products are required and consumed.  A person's ability to interact with objects could be altered remotely based on immediate needs and in accordance with existing end-user agreements. 

Add to this connectivity the basic human need to connect as mentioned earlier, and voilà – you have Social Media.  This concept is amplified by the influx of smart digital devices such as smart phones, tablets, GPS, etc.  Apply all of this to the customer experience (candidates, employees, managers, etc.) and you can begin to paint the bigger picture and the immediate and direct impact to HR Strategy & Operations.  If you are in HR and have any responsibility for the future growth of your organization, business productivity, or the ability of your people to connect and execute strategy, you can no longer make the assumption that “I handle process, HRIS/IT handles all the technical stuff.”  HR Professionals – whether you responsible for Talent Acquisition, Management, or Employee Relations – must educate themselves and gain an understanding of the technological world in which we all live. 


  • - According to Garnter, there will be nearly 26 billion devices on the Internet of Things by 2020 [6] and ABI Research claims more than 30 billion devices will be wirelessly connected to the "Internet of Everything" by this time [7].
  • - Cisco has created a dynamic "connections counter" to track the estimated number of connected things from July 2013 until July 2020[8]
  • - Even Microsoft has realized that delivery of products & services through traditional means is outdated. Their new CEO, Satya Nadella, was harvested from their Cloud & Enterprise Divisions.[1]

WhatsApp's 450 million monthly users send on average more than 1,200 messages each month [11].   This is expected to help Facebook's own Internet.org mission to provide Internet access to the 2/3 of the world not yet connected.  Most of that growth is expected in the developing markets where WhatsApp is popular. As the number of mobile broadband users expands beyond the 2 billion or so of today (again, see trends above), the opportunity only grows.

With WhatsApp’s $19 billion valuation (in comparison; Harley-Davidson = $14.1B, Progressive = $14.3B, Workday = $17B), you can begin to see the importance of connecting the world – and it is just important for HR to get in front of (not just catch up to) connecting the workforce [10]

The Future is Here!

So what does all of this mean for the HR professional?  All too often, enterprise HR systems, processes and organizational structures are still operating in a pre-2008 world [2].  The HR markets have changed and the HR function must change accordingly.  HR practitioners must become technologists (no, not programmers) and must get comfortable with data.  HR Transformation is the new term for HR Tech Swap, HR Technology adoption is lacking, and HR policy enforcement is sometimes more buzz than reality. 

HR needs a new baseline and must review their overall service delivery model with people, process, and technology in mind (and in that order).  Considering only process & people without technology leads to a lack of information.  If your focus is on process and technology only, you will driver decisions based on incomplete or wrong information.  Only focusing on new technology to meet the demand of the audience creates a lack of process ownership.

ven diagram

Forget about the “low lying fruit” that we all hear about; Single Sign-on, integrations, and password encryption.  These should all be a given at this point.  Innovative products like SlickLogin are taking much of the effort out of the Username/Password verification process.  In the case of SlickLogin, once the user is logged into the computer, it would emit a high-frequency sound that is only recognized by your smart device and send a message back to the computer verifying the user’s identity [5].

The HR Technology market is paying attention to all the trends and playing a key role in this fundamental shift by innovating and building a more robust set of cloud-based and mobile-native products that are revolutionizing how we get work done.  Predictive analytics will also become a must-have for enterprise operations and the methodology will fall on the shoulders of these product/service suppliers.  Regardless, the many HR leaders seem to be in a “Wait and See” mode or just too busy pulling the cart to stop and put the wheels on.  Noting this undeniable fact, HR Tech vendors are taking their innovations straight to the C-Suite and bypassing HR altogether.  They are making the business case and selling the ROI to those at the top and cutting out the middle man.  Once the deal is done, HR is given mandate to make it work.


Make it Happen!

The Internet has been redefined and everything is connected.  Connective Social and Mobile technologies have permeated nearly every aspect of the enterprise and HR is not immune (#SoMeHR).  Mobile & Video are changing collaborative learning and recruiting.  Business integration is now deal-breaker but ROI against HR’s basic goals remains a primary driver [4].  According to Forbes, “The majority of #GenMobile is in the early stages of their career, owns three or more connected devices (62%), and feels most productive when working from home (57%). This will require changes to your infrastructure and your business processes [3].” 

Innovation will not slow down and wait for HR to catch up.  It is time for #HR to get connected to the “Internet of Things?” Are you upgrading your corporate infrastructure to support 3 or more devices per person?  Have you mobile-enabled your core business process workflows?”  HR is responsible for nearly every “human” aspect of business.  Step-up and lead the charge for progress & transformation and must get ahead of the competition by knowing the market.  For insight on the services providers you are considering, OR to get a better feel for your employment brand, check out some of the following resources:

         - TrustRadius (http://www.trustradius.com/  Professional community for sharing candid insights (from those with experience) about enterprise technology through in-depth reviews and discussions.

  • - GlassDoor (http://www.glassdoor.com/):  Provides a view of your organization from an employment standpoint, which in itself can be very telling about the culture and overall work environment. 


1.      Minyanville: Google, Microsoft make peace with partners

2.      Time is the enemy of HR (and its employers)

3.      Are You Ready For The Future of Work?

4.      What does 2014 hold for HR technology?

5.      Google Makes Move That Could Let Users Sign In With Sound

6.      Gartner

7.      ABI

8.      Cisco
http://newsroom.cisco.com/feature-content?type=webcontent&articleId=1208342 Cisco created a dynamic "connections counter" to track the estimated number of connected things from July 2013 until July 2020 (methodology included).

9.      Steve Case on 10 Lessons We Can Learn From WhatsApp

10.  Valuation http://www.forbes.com/sites/jjcolao/2014/02/19/at-19-billion-whatsapp-is-worth-more-than-under-armour-xerox-and-these-other-storied-brands/

11.  Average WhatsApp User Sends More Than 1,200 Messages Each Month


Submitted by:


Damon Lovett, Senior Consultant – KnowledgeSource, Inc.


Damon's unique mix of practitioner, vendor and consulting experience has helped companies simplify complex processes and several optimal sustainable technology solutions to improve service delivery and overall business effectiveness. Damon brings industry leadership, HR transformation capabilities and a collaborative style to deliver successful projects..






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