matrixThe ugly truth?  Is Tech taking over?

We all could probably have guessed that the day would come when CEOs would put technology over people as their top priority.  But seeing the data from Korn Ferry that today is that day is still a hard pill to swallow.

For years CEOs have stated people, talent, the leadership pipeline and general leadership capability as their top concern, but now technology is topping the list for over 60% of global leaders.  It’s understandable given the rapid pace of development in the tech world and the fact that most companies are still racing to keep up whereas before they may have been market innovators.

However the fact remains that technology alone does not make a successful and sustainably growing blue chip business.  Well, not yet anyhow.  Over 40% of business leaders believe that technology will one day make the human workforce obsolete according to Korn Ferry’s surveys, but we’re certainly not there yet.

So what does all this mean for the discerning business leader, HR or learning professional?  There’s certainly a risk that it means tighter budgets.  If CEOs are pushing toward greater investment in technology, then it could mean money is pulled from people attraction, development and retention.  Or it could simply mean we need to get smarter about how we link our people development with our technology.

Working with one client recently there was a realisation that customer service staff were not using the highly intelligent online tools that their customers were using.

Totem Lollipops

This meant that customers were better educated than staff on product price comparisons and reviews.  That’s easy to fix, but you need to know where the problems are in order to fix them.  We can be very guilty in the people function of putting out information and hoping people use it, when in fact we need to be marketeers to grab attention.

In a totally different organisation, the challenge was getting people to work across brands and across old and new tech systems, to provide a more seamless service for business clients.  Again it’s the people making best use of the technology that makes the difference.

What are the tech developments in your business and market?  How are you connecting your people with those advances to maximise their value?

Korn Ferry’s research shows an understandable yet concerning shift in CEO attention.  The role of the people function in future (as if it hasn’t always been so) will be to keep people at the forefront of business leaders’ thinking.

That’s how we maximise the developments in technology.