There are organizations and people who are figuring out how to use cloud computing and big data to learn more about what their employees are doing. Their intentions are to figure out how to make computers do what humans do now. One example, is the British-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto.
Rio Tinto just announced plans last year to invest $518 million in the world’s first, heavy-duty driverless train system in its iron ore mines in Western Australia. The automated trains are expected to be running in 2015 and include 150 driverless trucks and automated drills. By learning what the drivers do, they were able make a computer do the same thing and not have to change drivers.
This is just one example of many that exist and will continue to change the way humans work inside of organizations. HR can help lead these changes by understanding how technology (i.e., cloud computing and big data) can help their business. Most HR leaders are not the ones inventing the new technology, but many can be the ones driving the behavioral changes associated with technology advancements.
Another example is North Carolina State University. They were able to better understand what its library staff was doing with much of its time. They learned that customers can scan books themselves and robots, “bookBots”, can retrieve books when students request them. This will shave 15 percent from staff hours.
You can’t stop technology shifts. You can only move with them. HR’s role is to lead by example with technology and show business leaders how it can help save or grow the bottom line. The problem with HR people, is that many are afraid of technology. Beyond HR, the issue is how to help the employees who get displaced from technology shifts. Laying people off is one of the worst jobs any HR leader has to do. Helping people transition into a new career after being laid off is what many companies fail at. Not saying we have to coddle, but having thousands of people unemployed due to technology shifts, is not healthy. Technology can create jobs, but probably not at the pace it can cut jobs.
Preparing people for change is every leader’s job. HR should understand how technology shifts, like cloud computing and big data, will change their workforce. You can’t stop I.T.