Greg Allen is the Global Head of Resourcing at Lloyd’s Register. As a thought leader in the HR sector for several decades, he has also headed recruitment at Nokia, Symbian and Merrill Lynch, his attitudes towards changing the traditional practices of HR have received much interest from his peers.
I wanted to talk to him about technology and its importance for our workforce from the perspective of a man that has embraced change in a technological age.
2017- where is Tech at?
2017 is interesting because we are already seeing big changes and we are seeing a lot of technology that has been tried by the public and now is failing, take the disappearance of Vine for instance, Failing is fine, people shouldn’t be afraid of that.
The decider on what will and won’t succeed will be made by digital natives rather than digital immigrants. Its digital immigrants are the late adopters, and the early adopters, (the natives), have often moved on by the time the older generation arrive, the majority of the general public.
We particularly see this with investment into digital products. Investors are often behind the curve, which sustains a long and painful death for some technology. The deciding factor of the investment is often too late, it’s like betting on a horse when the race is already over.
What technology do you enjoy?
I like to watch the digital landscape changing, particularly activity in Silicon Valley, the technology focused around social behaviours and digital algorithms, the gamification of personality development and differentials where you can test it.
Specifically related to HR, there are technologies that demonstrates when people are going to leave your company through tracking human behaviour and activity on social media, all the scary Big Brother stuff, its fascinating but I don’t know if this type of technology will ever commercialise.
Do you think it’s important that all technology does commercialise, is the need to commercialise or ROI technology investment, stunting growth?
Interesting question. We’ve just implemented an ERP (SAP). But we need to listen to our employees and our customers and watch how Gen Y & Millennials use technology. Sometimes the speed of change is dampened in business, and the revolution is absorbed by say, Oracle or WorkDay or an SAP that says, “You cannot move this fast, we will not let you”, or as Gandalf put it, “You shall not pass”. They don’t want the change, or more often they want to control the speed of change. However, small startups, particularly in tech, are often a lot more disruptive, adaptive and agile. They will be the ones as we frequently see, that will step up and in some instances be absorbed by the large SAAS technologies.
“Change is driven by disrupters”
Dare we say success favours the brave, I think big companies could be braver if they weren’t halted by these monoliths of software and their technology roads maps. Lloyd’s Register has been around for 250 years, we’re not good because we’re old, we’re old because we’re good. We’re good at change, we’re good at developing and we’re good at inventing. The interesting thing is that if we were good because we are old, we would still be looking at building sailing ships, but instead, we’re looking at some of the most advanced ships, you can’t make these leaps without change, and that change is driven by disrupters.
What are Lloyds Register disrupting at the moment?
HR has to be skilled in culture and understanding culture. We have to watch and listen constantly, that’s why I love the AI technology and big data output produced by JobsTheWord, where you track candidate behaviour, look at social media trends, and measure people’s behaviour before they join the company. 20 years ago advanced technology wasn’t available to the consumer, nowadays, the tech in our smartphones can be more advanced than the technology in the workplace. Everything is changing, and we have to change our perspective on what’s going on in order to give credence to the business decisions we make, that’s why I find JobsTheWord technology so important.
As we see an increase in Virtual Workforces, how do you see technology ensuring communication between employers and employees?
Currently I think we see it best in shared service centre environments such as call centres. Employees can click in and out online while working remotely, which allows people to have the Martini experience, ‘anytime anyplace anywhere’. I think companies are fundamentally seeing that their workforce doesn’t have to be all in one place anymore. I can see Brexit being an excuse for people to say, “We don’t actually have to be in London at all, we can be anywhere in the world”.
Interestingly enough, in the UK we have a huge engineering shortage, particularly female engineers. If you can ship work out of the UK, if you can use drones where someone is looking at a North Sea oil rig from Vietnam, performing great engineering remotely, then that will be the biggest change. Technology will allow location to lose its relevance to occupation.
For this change to happen effectively, I think job boards will, if they’re clever, turn themselves into multinational ATSs and evolve much like Jobstheword did. They create heat maps of people so an employer can see the locations of candidates, their past projects, what gender they are, what skill sets they have and what skill level they are at. You are then able to click on that person or a group of people that fit your criteria, and as an employer you can say, “I’ll have that one” or “I want to communicate with those people”. That’s the future of recruitment.