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Trends in talent management

Zafar Anjum | Dec. 5, 2011
Firms looking inward to hire to cut costs, integrated HR tech is the solution, says Gery Messer, president for Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa of Northgate Arinso.

Following is the text of an email interview with Gery Messer, president for Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa of Northgate Arinso. Firms are looking inward to hire to cut costs, integrated HR tech is the solution, says Gery.

What major trends do you see in the Asia Pacific in the area of talent management?

There are three major trends that I see coming up in the area of talent management in the Asia Pacific.

The first trend is the absolute need for HR practitioners to get out of transactional tasks and to focus more on value-based tasks. Talent management and leadership management have become key differentiators that human resources (HR) should focus on, especially in a downturn, where talent management becomes more critical. In such situations, most companies are counter-intuitive, never worrying about losing great talent in a downturn. However, it is during a downturn that good people always leave.

Secondly, talent management is moving from a quantitative and qualitative tool to that of an analytical tool. Senior leadership teams and board directors will want to be able to have access to analytical information and present it correctly – which is a key aspect of what being a HR leader is about.

Lastly, I foresee a desire for standardisation. Historically speaking, HR has been the least standardised back office function. Companies do HR differently within countries, within divisions and sometimes within offices.

How can talent management save costs for companies?

In times of economic uncertainty, the key is for companies to focus on managing their talent. Every business leader will now be thinking about taking cost out of their business, and the tendency is that talent management is given less priority. However, they must leverage on the talent they have now to ensure the best people are in the most appropriate roles to be able to react to any challenges that 2012 brings. Using talent management tools can help them to make those decisions more accurately, and other HR tools can allow HR professionals to concentrate on thinking about talent management, rather than administrative and transactional HR tasks.

Also, today’s employees tend to take control of their own careers, and in order to retain that talent, providing learning opportunities, experiences and even flexible work arrangements will be worth much more than any monetary benefits.  

Moving to the right type of platform by using the right type of technology with a blend of outsourcing can get 25 percent to 35 percent in cost savings. The real benefit of this is the ability to free up a HR professional to spend more time on talent management other than financial benefits. The benefits of this is worth 2-3 times the cost savings effort.

How can technology help companies manage talent?

Currently, many firms are solving their HR management issues through point solutions, focusing on transactional tasks instead of value-based tasks. With HR focused on feature functionality, it leaves little time for HR practitioners to focus on the real issues on talent retention and management. Instead, companies should seek to have a holistic view of the issues faced within the environment, allowing HR practitioners to focus on service delivery and outcomes. By using onboard platforms that provide a holistic view of HR from end to end, such as Cloud or SaaS offerings, HR practitioners can focus on what is most important – talent management.

Can you compare the lag between Asian companies and Western companies in employing technology in talent management?

What we currently see in Asia as well as Singapore is a huge embracing of the concept of talent management – the history of HR starts with payroll management, and is traditionally where HR grows out of. However, in the last 18 months, we have witnessed Asian companies really embracing talent management, which focuses on different types of skills in HR, utilising different tools and skills.

What is also interesting in Asia is that, similar to mobile where they have leapfrogged the US in terms of adoption, the upcoming trend is Asian companies will be forecast to leapfrog Western companies within the next two to three years in self-service HR technology and adopting talent management services. The main reason for this upcoming adoption is that there are no massive legacy environments which have been built. For a first timer, Asian companies will be able to implement best practices and standards more quickly as compared to undoing legacy systems previously implemented.


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