Every business relies on technology, but when reliance turns into dependence, employees, managers and company leaders can mistakenly think they don’t need to keep improving their knowledge and skills. When it comes to developing and executing a successful human capital management (HCM) strategy, you definitely don’t want to fall into this trap.

Exploring the rise of digital HCM

Over the past decade or longer, HR solutions have transformed from technology that helped companies process their payroll and manage employee data into systems that offer deeper functionality that extends across the entire life of an employee. From hiring, recruiting and onboarding a new employee to managing compensation, benefits, training and continuous performance of current employees, today’s HCM platforms help HR departments facilitate and automate more than ever before.

Even the terminology has shifted – moving from HR to HCM – to describe solutions with more breadth and depth. As some providers dip their toes into artificial intelligence (AI), chatbots and predictive analytics, we have to wonder – as Forbes did in a recent article – if computers will soon replace HR managers.

While HCM software can automate workflows and perform many essential HR functions, it still needs individuals with strong intuition and people skills driving it in order to succeed.

HCM does not exist without Humans

Human Capital Management. Human Resources. It doesn’t matter what term you use; the common denominator in both is HUMAN. HCM/HR technology is not designed to replace HR professionals but to help them do their jobs more efficiently and strategically. Until computers can feel emotion, there are reactions, strategies and thought processes that software can’t address as well as a human can.

Let’s take recruiting, for example. AI can do the heavy lifting of reviewing hundreds or thousands of resumes to identify candidates with the right skills and experience, providing hiring managers with a short list of the most qualified candidates. Then, humans take over! Hiring or recruiting managers use skills gained from experience combined with natural intuition to choose the applicants to evaluate further, interview and possibly hire.

A vision for a united future

There is no question that the processes that drive a company’s daily operations need to evolve to meet ever-changing workforce demographics, expectations and demands. Technology will, of course, play a role in this evolution, but it should not be used as a substitute for human intuition and understanding. An experienced HR team member can tell when an employee is going through a difficult time and determine if that is the cause of a possible dip in performance; even the most sophisticated AI cannot do this. When properly used together, however, the possibilities of human and technological resources are endless.

According to a study of strategic HR conducted by Harvard Business Review, the desire to focus on the big-picture issues of human capital rather than being tied up in administrative functions is a common desire among surveyed business leaders. HCM platforms that include self-service, configurable workflows and integrated analytics and reporting can help leaders achieve this goal by alleviating the HR professionals administrative burden. Ultimately, a strong relationship between people and tech will help any organization excel, but technology cannot be the tail that wags the HR department’s figurative dog.