The Future of HR Technology – Personal HR Databases

Its bound to happen sooner or later ~ the uptake of web2.0 or social networking tools has seen a large portion of the working population, students and scholars setting up pages that contain a fair amount of personal information on education, job history, life experiences etc. HR Professionals also know that people don’t stay in jobs as long as they did 10 years ago, and in that process of moving between jobs, much of that history of training, development programs, performance appraisal information and other data that is stored on the organisational HRIS is lost.

For many organisations hiring new staff – they have the proverbial forms that they ask to be filled out, but I would guess they tend to get far less information that they would like – often because the new hire can’t remember all the detail or couldn’t be bothered or the HR department has a policy to start from scratch. With web2.0 applications and cloud computing coming of age, there is no reason to source data from the new employees “Personal HR Database or Cloud” and likewise as information is updated on the in-house HR information system, a copy of that record can be provided back to the individuals cloud.

Even though most organisations are recovering from an economic downturn, we should not take our eye off the ball when it comes to effective talent strategies ~ the information that the employee does not provide because its not available or he forgot, could negatively influence your workforce planning, particularly as that sector of technology is making huge strides in the development of predictive modelling tools. Critical skills, or other skills and attributes  that an individual has acquired over the years are not know and organisations don’t leverage these strengths for the benefit of the employer and employee.

From an Employee Value Proposition, what a great attractor it will be for potential employees to know that you will automatically update their personal database with relevant HR information. Although I have no proof or seen any relevant research, I am almost  certain that most people will keep their personal HR database regularly updated more that they will inform their HR department of changes ~ especially if its linked to a popular social network. As people remember things or find old data whilst cleaning out a drawer, they will be more inclined to update their personal HR database because they are frequently interacting with their web 2.0 tool anyway.

How would these personal cloud databases operate. Well firstly, I think this would be a simple addition of services for the likes of Linkedin or Facebook – Account holders will simply update the pages with relevant personal information and have options to allow it to be downloaded by an employer or not. The pages will be flexible enough to receive “flat file” information from most HR systems that will  automatically be provided to the employee personal URL and the employee is then notified every time an update is made from his employers HRIS or the employer pulls information from the personal HR Database or cloud.

In the longer run, I can see Personal HR information systems being embedded into these personal cloud tool, that will allow peoples to do typical HR analytics on their own data eg. How marketable am I in the Financial industry? or do an  online gap analysis with a future employer prior to submitting a resume or application. How has my salary trended with similar jobs…

The creation of personal  HR databases will need some discipline from users – we have seen a number of horror stories with people being “too free” with their personal data and this leading to work related issues. But with the growth of web 2.0 there is a natural tendency to be more perceptive about control of your own data.

If this becomes a trend, then what will be the future for in-house HR systems and tools like Employee Self Service or workflow. What I have observed is that web 2.0 is providing people with power and ownership ~ thats not necessarily what current in-house HR Systems provide! –  let me know you thoughts and watch this space for some views on this soon.



  1. Sounds like quantum leaps in advancement promotion will be much more difficult if all the history (and mis- steps) can be seen forever.

    Will someone develop the ultimate UN delete key?

    David Pylyp

  2. Rob, this is very insightful. My feeling is that this valuable data will come (is coming) from multiple sources – not just the likes of LinkedIn and Facebook, but also Twitter (both your content and the content you share) and Blogs. A company that can mine this information and consolidate it could build a rich picture of your interests / keywords from your online activity. (Wordle diagrams come to mind).

    I imagine (but haven’t researched) that the correlation of online keywords (a person’s interests) and their skills / capabilities would be high – and therefore without actually needing to provide any data to an employer directly, employers would be able to identify those individuals, for example, who are interested in HR Technology and Web 2.0 (frequency of terms in online content / associations), that have read Dave Ulrich, and have a healthy skepticism of the “generations” debate (sound familiar?)

    For me, the real question is – who is going to be the first visionary HR Technology vendor to truly and fully integrate to social media? We have seen shades of this with Taleo’s Facebook connection and Nakisa’s integration to LinkedIn profiles. There are many more examples (there’s a whole class of applications now, Enterprise 2.0, that is looking at creating the platform AND leveraging the content), and I’m sure the trend will only continue.

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