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Impacts of IT on HRD

August 1, 2009

Information technology (IT) systems utilized in training and development functions have matured considerably since their introduction as tools to enhance the field of HRD. Some of the technology needs of the developing field of HRD have evolved as scalable IT applications used in conjunction with packages such as PeopleSoft and include features that manage employee data from payroll, demographic and career development spectrums. As IT options for the HRD (and HRM) practitioner have increased, it has become necessary to establish criteria for selection of such tools.

Sleezer & Kunneman (2001) provided somewhat of a caveat emptor (“buyer beware”) to the field stating focus should be placed on resulting performance and accountability such products could provide. The authors suggest that consumers should glean a strong understanding of the implications of vendor reliance upon the autonomy of the HRD function as well as the function’s ability to continue to deliver results conducive to the bottom line of the business it serves.

Keeping in mind Sleezer & Kunneman’s (2001) caution, consumers could benefit greatly from comprehensive systems designed to track associate development from the time they are hired until they leave the organization, especially when one considers the mobility of associates throughout an organization. In this way, managers from unit to unit would be able to view associate profiles which include past, present and future education and development scenarios and utilize that information to better develop and leverage associate performance outcomes. The same information could be easily used to develop organizations’ competitive advantage by quantifying their intellectual capital and building depth in terms of succession planning and deployment of current talent.

In another direction, IT systems have been utilized to improve HRD research as in the case study provided by Hatcher & Colton (2007) in which the researchers utilized the internet to facilitate a Delphi study. Hatcher & Colton (2007) cited the use of such technology as a natural consequence due to the fact that “HRD is a technology rich discipline” (p. 572) and thereby lends itself easily to the benefits of leveraging technology. The researchers found less attrition with regard to participation than in traditional paper-pencil Delphi studies and also found that technology facilitated flexible access and exchange of information which is a critical element of gathering data utilizing the Delphi technique. Further, conducting a Delphi utilizing electronic means provided a breadth of options with regard to time management and record retention that would have been hard to replicate with manual paper-pencil methodologies.

Hatcher & Colton’s (2007) study also provided implications “applicable to human resource development, training and development and adult education research and practice in that with the ubiquitous nature of the technologies used in the study it makes replication of the process possible for researchers, practitioners and others seeking to develop valid tools to measure related content” (p. 570). The authors’ work highlighted increased opportunities for collaboration and information sharing as well as enhanced research capabilities which were perhaps previously bound by geographic location. It is worth of noting that all of these elements could be as useful to practitioners in the field as well as to scholars conducting academic research. The transferability of the tools could be only as limited as the scholar/practitioner’s imagination.

Ford, N. (2006). The development and evaluation of an information technology support system to facilitate inter-organisational collaboration in HRD. Journal of European Industrial Training, 30(7), 569-588. (Document ID: 1140293391).

Hatcher, T., & Colton, S. (2007). Using the internet to improve HRD research: The case of the web-based Delphi research technique to achieve content validity of an HRD-oriented measurement. Journal of European Industrial Training, 31(7), 570. (Document ID: 1332908991).

Lin, H. (2006). Ethical Applications of technology in HRD: A PEST analysis and implications. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 19(4), 91-105. (Document ID: 1230877721).

Sleezer, C., & Kunneman, D. (2001). Consumer information: A strategy for integrating HRD values and practices. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 12(2), 209-213. (Document ID: 74266494).

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