The ‘SMAC’ing of human resources


The use of social media, mobile, analytics and cloud (SMAC) technologies has the potential of transforming the HR function.

The demography at the workplace is currently undergoing an interesting shift. In the advanced economies, the working population is ageing rapidly. For instance, in Europe, the median age of the working population stands at 40 years, while in the US one in four workers will be over the age of 55 by 2030.

On the other hand, the developing countries are observing a significant increase in the Gen-Y and Gen-Z employees in the workforce. India, of course, is observing a major shift with over 50 per cent of its working population below the age of 32 years. In fact, by 2030, India will overtake China as the country with the largest population in the working age .

No doubt, the rules of the workplace are set to change.

It is now an accepted fact that the GenY population does not require face-to-face interactions to build relationships. The same holds true at the workplace as well. This generation is far more comfortable in using workplace technologies than its predecessors and normally does not like to be confined by the physical boundaries of the workplace.

HR professionals have already spotted this trend and many of them are re-orienting their service delivery model.

SMAC, which aptly captures the confluence of four technologies —social media, mobile (mobility), analytics and cloud—is driving this change.

SMAC creates an ecosystem that allows the HR function to improve its operations and get closer to the employees, with minimal overhead and maximum reach. None of the four technologies can be an afterthought because it is the synergy created by social, mobile, analytics and cloud working together that creates the wow effect!

We all are aware that if Facebook were a nation, it would be the third most populous one in the world and in no time, would become the largest. Other social networking sites are fast catching up. Two of the world’s biggest brands are social networking companies. Their reach is growing beyond measure, sans precedence. They are not only managing to become the most sought after employers of choice, they also have a significant say in the way people think and operate.

The maximum amount of time spent on any website last year was a social networking site. In such an environment, it is naïve for organisations to not be cognizant of the relationship the employees share with the social networking world, and the manner in which it can impact an organisation, both positively and negatively.

India has already emerged as the second largest mobile market in the world, second only to China. As more and more smartphones, tablets and other devices find their way into the hands of employees, the demand to use them at work will intensify. Many organisations are using interesting ways to leverage this trend. For instance, at my own company, we are currently building a mobile application-based learning academy, which will provide bite- sized learning to be delivered just-in-time.

Bhrigu Joshi

The employees will be able to access the content anytime, anywhere depending on their requirement and convenience.

With many organisations adopting a formal ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) policy, a robust governance mechanism is required to ensure data privacy and theft control. The demarcation between work and personal life is becoming blurred on account of increased device penetration. Employees have the option of being connected 24 x 7. While the trend will certainly help enhance productivity, agility and satisfaction, it will also require employees to be mature and understand their work limits.

Jack Welch once famously said – ‘In God we trust, rest all please bring data’.

HR analytics empowers the organisation with a crystal clear view of people investments and helps the HR function to establish its credibility. Disparate sets of data from payroll, attendance, engagement, development and customer satisfaction can be combined together to produce meaningful insights. The solution also empowers the function to identify and predict the current and future hot spots in people practices. Unfortunately, analytics is one area where most HR functions are currently struggling.

The Indian e-commerce sector is witnessing frantic activity. With growth, M&A and globalisation dominating the business agenda, the HR function is expected to keep pace with the rate of change. Cloud for HR helps address this challenge by achieving economies of scale, reducing spend on technology infrastructure, streamlining processes and improving flexibility. It can act as a basic technological platform for the HR function to roll-out its diverse sets of services.

We can say that the use of SMAC technologies has the potential to bring about a complete transformation in the HR function.

According to a recent research conducted by Economic Intelligence Unit, more than 69 per cent companies are currently using web-based or mobile HR platforms, and more than 49 per cent companies are currently using business application via software as a service and cloud. While technology continues to evolve and transform the HR function, there also exists a lurking concern. Human touch points lay the foundation of a caring and empathetic organisation. Dissolving this interface may have its own adverse effects. Thus, HR needs to address this paradox and find its way through the technology labyrinth.



  1. Good to read this.. just one point..

    ..Jack Welch did not say “In God we trust; all others must bring data.” This phrase is generally attributed to both Deming and Robert W. Hayden, which is still not ascertained and neither of them have claimed it.

  2. I agree with the importance of technology in HR domain but we must be careful while using it as human beings are unique having their own brain, sentiments, personality and so on and need very careful treatment else we are at risk of loosing the commitment and loyalty which are difficult to measure.

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Prajjal Saha is the editor and publisher of HRKatha, which he founded in 2015. With nearly 25 years of experience in business journalism, writing, and editing, he is a true industry veteran who possesses a deep understanding of all facets of business, from marketing and distribution to technology and human resources. Along with his work at HRKatha, he is also the author of the Marketing White Book. Thanks to his extensive experience and expertise, he has become a trusted source of insight and analysis for professionals across a wide range of industries.