Q&A with HR Tech Influencer David Ludlow

Influence in HR technology comes from many places, takes many forms and continues to evolve over time. When the HRE/HR Tech Conference team met over the winter to work on this Influencers list, we knew it would be important to consider all aspects of influence. Some have more of a direct and immediate effect on products, while others have a more subtle yet longer-term impact. It’s safe to say all, however, are having an important and noticeable impact on where HR technology has been, where it is today and, perhaps most importantly, where it is heading. And that, above all else, informed the decision-making that went into compiling this list, which presents those being recognized in alphabetical order. Click here to see the Top 100 HR Tech Influencers.

David Ludlow
Group Vice President, Product Management
SAP SuccessFactors


What’s the single most dramatic shift you see happening in the HR tech space today?

The emergence of advanced technologies like machine learning, artificial intelligence, digital assistants, and continuous feedback loops offer the opportunity to drastically change the way HR services are delivered to employees. By leveraging these technologies, we can completely reimagine employee self-service and manager self-service by injecting consumer-like experiences into HR technology that can nudge, recommend, suggest, and personalize the employee experience—just like s/he experiences with any consumer website.  Embedding feedback capabilities to close out the process will enable HR to continually monitor and improve the process.

In acquiring and implementing new technologies, what’s the one or two most common mistakes HR organizations make?

Too often, the focus of deploying HR technology is to take an existing process, map it to the technology, and deliver it to managers and employees without asking some very basic questions: what is the value the manager and/or employee receives from that process? Is it clear? Is it simple? value-add? Were the processes and related workflows designed with the end user in mind or was it more a response to getting the process out of the HR department? HR technology alone cannot make a process usable. It plays a role but so does the complexity of the process itself.

How can HR leaders best make the business case for HR technology investment?

Traditional HR business cases for technology investment have been based on efficiency and cost: how much cost can we reduce in HR and in HR systems? While still important, we also need to ask new questions. What is the cost of a bad user experience in terms of frustration, morale, and engagement? How do employees feel about their companies when the HR systems they use are based on technologies and processes designed 20 years ago? How much time is lost searching for data and information and how often is it wrong or outdated? Admittedly, these questions are hard to quantify but increasingly important when considering HR technology investments.

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