In Context

Context aware technology has started to make an impact says Steven Rees-Pullman, VP EMEA, SumTotal Systems.

In Context


An organisation’s people should be a CEO’s top priority, and this is one of the primary forces driving the rapid growth of HR technology adoption. As people have become the main focus for organisations – ahead of operational excellence and even innovation – the role of HR technology has become increasingly important. Many HR leaders are looking to technology to help people in their organisations become more productive in their current jobs and better prepared for future roles.

Most HR technology buyers don’t achieve even half the benefits they expected when they selected the technology, and two out of three people don’t think HR technology helps them do their jobs better. The issue is that most of this technology expects people to be and act the same. Consider the terminology most vendors use – “human capital management” – this assumes that the same technology we use to track and record physical assets is also right for our people. However, HCM technology was designed to enable the efficient distribution of one-size-fits-all HR solutions to people in organisations who are anything but ‘one size’.

Organisations looking to create a competitive advantage have to deliver differentiated solutions to their people. As jobs become more and more specialised and the workforce increasingly diverse, the time for rigid technology has passed. To increase the productivity of people within an organisation and get real value from enterprise technology, its users must see a personal value in it and it needs to put employees back in the centre.



Creating meaningful context


Context-aware software combines situational and environmental information with other information to proactively offer enriched, usable content, functions and experiences. By leveraging a broad range of information about an individual to hyper-personalise the user experience, this software creates significantly greater end-user value.

In the HR space, context-aware software can provide the specific actions required to improve performance before a target is missed. It can connect employees within an organisation who have the knowledge needed to get a current task done well. It can tell you what development activities should be explored in preparation for a promotion or annual review, instead of forcing a one-size-fits-all development programme on employees or leaving them to figure out what they should do alone.  It can help organisations schedule people based on who will be most effective for a particular shift or project instead of selecting based solely on availability. 

 “Almost none of the enterprise systems have considered how to incorporate the experience of users in the context of their broader roles and functions,” Bersin by Deloitte explains.  “Improving user engagement with enterprise applications requires understanding users’ behaviour and roles – how professionals in various job functions use these systems on a daily basis.”

Context-Aware today


Consider the technology tools used in a daily routine. Facebook is notorious for using any information shared on its platform to target the advertisements presented to its users; its software is contextually aware. Similarly, has millions of products that shoppers could buy on its website, but it uses information about its products, user profiles, buyer histories, and recommendations to present only the few things the company thinks its customers should buy; Amazon’s software is also context aware.

According to Fast Company: “In the coming years, there will be a shift toward what is now known as contextual computing. Within a decade, contextual computing will be the dominant paradigm in technology. Even office productivity will move to such a model. By combining a task with broad and relevant sets of data about us and the context in which we live, contextual computing will generate relevant options for us.”



Context-Aware recruitment


With the global skills shortage and organisations’ unilateral need to increase engagement and productivity and strengthen employment brand and culture, context-aware technology can play a critical role in recruitment. 


To find out what this will mean for recruitment make sure you're subscribed to the magazine and read the rest of Steven Ress-Pullman's article in the June issue.



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