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The Consumerization of HR through SMAC

Earlier this week we spoke with Tom Haak from the HR Trend Institute about past, present and future HR Trends – in case you missed it, don’t panic, just go here. One of the things he mentioned was the Consumerization of HR through SMAC: Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud. Today we’ll have a closer look at how one impacts the other, in other words: how SMAC influences this trend we call the Consumerization of HR.

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First things first: what exactly are we talking about here? What we mean by ‘the Consumerization of HR’, is that HR is slowly turning into a product that employees can consume at their time of choosing. People want – and expect – an experience at work that is similar to what they experience outside of work. As Tom Haak put it: more fun, and more consideration for their individual wishes and needs. Not just being treated as part of a big entity, but as a respected individual.

We’ve seen a few examples of this trend already. Remember when we spoke about treating your applicants – and employees – as customers for instance. If you didn’t read that post yet, or if you’d like to freshen up your memory, you can read all about creating brand ambassadors through your applicant experience here.

And then there is the office. Within this Consumerization trend, the office is not just a place to work anymore. It’s becoming an ‘experience where all the elements of work – the physical, the emotional, the intellectual, the virtual, and the aspirational – are carefully orchestrated to inspire employees’, according to Jeanne Meister. We’ve looked at the role of the office before, in particular when it comes to reflecting a company’s culture. In case you want to read more about this, just go here.


SMAC simply is an acronym for Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud, 4 tech innovations that fuelled the Consumerization of HR.

S for Social

Social media are everywhere and by now used by pretty much everyone. The days where only Millennials used Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are long gone. Nowadays a lot of baby boomers are active on ‘social’ too, and virtually every company – big or small – uses one or more of these platforms as its main marketing tools. LinkedIn is for HR what Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are for marketing: a great way of reaching your target audience globally. The fact that people create a profile showing their experience, skills, location and recommendations, makes it very easy for employers to narrow down their search.

With people being so used to social media and connecting to these platforms for whatever reason, it’s no surprise that this trend has spread to the HR industry. Social networks are being used more and more by companies – as well as job seekers – to find their next professional match. Challenges on for example Instagram or Twitter, as a way of finding that ‘one perfect candidate’, are a relatively common part of many hiring processes today.

A very recent example of how social is entering the work environment is Facebook’s Workplace – a social ‘business’ App employees can use as a platform to share ideas and chat with colleagues. And with its introduction of Microsoft Teams, software giant Microsoft has joined the battle for the ‘best business chat platform’ too.

M for Mobile

Ten years from now, desktops might not even exist anymore. Seriously, the vast majority of 16-24 year olds already connects – solely – to the internet via a mobile device. So how do you expect to explain to that generation of workers that they’ll have to stay behind a desktop all day? Impossible indeed.

Knowing there is an entire generation of people ordering food, booking a hotel and getting a taxi via their smartphones, it’s only natural to add job hunting to this list too. It’s not just mobile recruiting that matters when it comes to HR though. Yes, it is obvious that companies will need to implement a mobile recruitment strategy as soon as possible, because desktops are dying out and mobile is the new normal. But what is just as important, is the mobile experience companies can offer to their employees. Millennials, and older generations increasingly too, are glued to their smartphones and connected 24/7. This means that not only do they expect to check work emails, documents etc. when and where they want, but more importantly; they’ll expect a customised, easy-to-use and mobile accessbile Learning & Development programme from the organisation they work for.

Here you can find more best practices on Employee Development.

A for Analytics

 Data & (Predictive) Analytics are booming. And although the idea of mining historical data to predict a future trend goes all the way back to 1689, things really started to kick off when data became mainstream around 2008 – mainly thanks to the rise of the Cloud, but more on that later.

Predictive Analytics (PA) in particular is everywhere: from Amazon recommending you products, to Spotify suggesting songs you might like to hear, to Google trying to finish your sentences. HR, although still lagging behind a bit compared to fields such as Marketing and Finance, is slowly catching up. Data & analytics are taking over traditional HR processes and we see applications of PA in various HR functions, such as Recruitment and Preselection and Learning & Development.

We can write another thousand words about Predictive Analytics, but it’s way easier to download our free ebook at the bottom of this page. Be sure to get yours before you check out!

C for Cloud

In a way, the Cloud is the mother of all the elements we’ve mentioned. It’s the Cloud that made it possible for big amounts of data to be stored and hence fuelled the gathering of data. Without the Cloud, there would be no cloud-based HR applications (obviously), nor would people be able to interconnect and access data from anywhere in the world. It’s the starting point for innovation in all sorts of HR areas: analytics, machine learning and predictive capabilities for example will feature more and more in HR Cloud software. Mobile access for employees wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for the Cloud. And thanks to cloud-computing you’ll always have the latest version of the software you use. Refusing to move to the cloud simply means falling behind, not just from a competitive business perspective, but also in terms of being an attractive employer.

Here you can read more about the benefits of Cloud Computing in HR. 

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Neelie Verlinden is the Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Digital HR Tech. She’s an experienced digital HR & HR Tech writer, speaker, and entrepreneur with an international background. She has written countless articles on all things HR technology.
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