I was asked recently by Ed Newman if HR Tech innovation is moving at a faster pace than every before? I have been heavily involved in product management and engineering of HR Tech for about 15 years and constantly involved in HR Tech innovation. From a personal perspective the answer is no - its always been crazy and I hope it always will be! However I am lucky to have been involved in such interesting projects throughout my career. 

If HR Tech innovation is really driving forwards rapidly then recruiters day job should be changing and feeling the impact of innovation. Whats is different? Is the strategy and approach different? Do recruiters do what they have always done, but through different media?

The “innovation” that pioneered online recruitment (back in late 90s early 2000) was a media format change. In many cases very little changed from print to web. It was less innovation and more a grappling struggle with a new media, I remember some folks putting a picture of the print ad on the web. The biggest innovation of online recruitment was reducing advertising costs so more jobs could be promoted with more information.

Is there lots of innovation or simply one or two innovative solution ideas that lots of companies are packaging and taking to market with their unique spin?

I guess the deeper question is "what is innovation?".

As with all new tech it normally takes between 10 and 20 years to become mainstream. This was true of the desktop and the web.

Now the web is “grown up”, we are seeing more innovation that is going beyond the fact it is online! This is the exciting time! Prior to mainstream web adoption there was lots of innovation, but it typically failed to succeed as it was “before its time”. We are seeing some of those failed ideas return and see success!

Today the mobile sector feels young, fresh and new, but the web enabled mobile is about 18 years old! There were many “smartphones” before the iPhone nailed it! The tablet is a smartphone spin off which rides the smartphone wave that has taken nearly two decades to crest.

The innovation of the iPhone that revolutionised the mobile industry was not the hardware or the touch screen (although they all contributed). The key was the shift of power from mobile networks to every company and developer. The 'App' could be written by any firm to represent their services, even with Apples restrictions on content this made the smartphone a new digital playground that was previously a closed club to those with big bank balances. Apple solved app discovery and made it low cost to launch mobile apps. Previously putting an app on a device involved 6 or even 7 figure deals with the network operators.

Android went a step further and has given every manufacture in the world the power to release hardware with sophisticated software which previously would have cost many millions to develop.

Mobile is now mainstream, we have more devices than people on the planet.

Social media which is surrounded with hype about speed of growth has taken over 15 years to grow to mainstream. This year on Feb 4 Facebook turns 10 years old. A year before Facebook was created we had MySpace. Nearly 14 years ago Friends Reunited launched and before that there were many others who failed to make it. Instagram, Pintrest, Jelly etc are all riding the wave of social media that started 15 years ago.

Social media is now mainstream with billions of people using it daily. 

Social, mobile and big data have come of age together - there has never been a similar convergence and opportunity for HR tech.

It is great that recruiting innovation feels to be speeding up, in reality I expect it is maturing making it the right time to throw cash at it! More money in HR Tech is increasing everyones awareness of the innovation which before was almost “underground” or never managed to materialise from the sketch on a back of napkin!

We must challenge the industry to innovate working practices not just technology. Many of the standard practices have been entrenched from those basic online pioneering days. As an industry we can do better, I can not say what better will look like exactly, but collaborative innovation will move us forwards. We can maximize the web, mobile, social and big data to deliver a candidate experience that makes finding that new job less painful and makes attracting the best talent faster for employers.

I believe that we can use mobile web as a catalyst to drive industry practices forwards which will help improve individuals careers and through enhanced talent distribution boost the economies of the world.

Personally I want to see evidence based best practices with continuous improvement to talent attraction and recruitment practices until we reach  personalised low friction experiences. 

AuthorDave Martin
CategoriesMobi in Action