How to Avoid the ‘Bright, Shiny Object Syndrome’ in HR Tech


Enterprises spend more time, money and energy than ever before on new HR tech solutions. According to PwC’s 2020 HR Technology Survey, 74% of companies plan to increase spending on HR tech to address talent needs this year as the $148 billion HR tech market continues to grow. However, when companies discuss return on HR tech investments, the large majority see limited, if any, bottom-line impact.

With new products unveiled at dozens of HR tech conferences each year and a list of more than 800 HR software applications available from just a quick search, it’s easy to get lost in the vast number of HR tech tools available in the market. In fact, 79% of organizations struggle to keep up with new technologies in recruiting. Sleek designs, user-friendly demos, and sales pitches filled with industry buzzwords add even more distraction when researching solutions for your organization.

Nevertheless, while recruiting leaders are investing in software that promises to solve their biggest challenges, often, when they evaluate results, they don’t see an impact on the bottom line. This is happening across the industry, from small businesses to major corporations.

So, how do you avoid falling into the trap of the “bright, shiny object syndrome” when implementing HR tech? While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, avoiding these common pitfalls can help ensure that your tech investments have a measurable and sustainable impact on your business.


Pitfall #1: Neglecting to set goals or establish the outcomes you want to achieve.

Managers who are users of HR tech tools are two times less likely than executives to say the tools are effective on a range of business outcomes. Furthermore, a recent study reports that even though 97% of senior HR and legal professionals think technology will make a difference in HR, only 37% have implemented an HR technology strategy.

With your overall HR strategy as a guide, identify the desired outcomes you want to achieve first. Then work backward. Part of your HR technology strategy should be to dissect the operations and workflows of your recruiting team to determine opportunities and challenges. This includes how the tool will integrate with your current HR tech stack.

If organizations fail to identify the desired impact (e.g., cost per hire improvement, candidate engagement improvement, etc.) and track that impact over time, they aren’t likely to have a good outcome. For example, perhaps your business goals include increasing employee productivity and reducing cost per hire. A chatbot may seem like the answer to help take some of the weight off your team. Will that genuinely help you achieve your goals? Depending on where you are in your technology journey, it may. Your analysis might show that a different tool will have a more significant impact on your bottom line now. By preparing and planning effectively, you can proactively seek out partners with demonstrated experience at solving the challenges you are trying to address, so you are not sidetracked by the “bright, shiny objects” you see on the market.


Pitfall #2: Not measuring continuously.

The next transformation in HR technology is ensuring that your organization is continually evaluating and changing your technology to get the most out of it. Before implementing new technology, develop a plan to assess its performance regularly. Determine the key performance indicators (KPIs) that tie into your strategic business goals. Then set up checkpoints every month or quarter to measure against them. To do this, you may need a tool that offers robust analytics and reporting. If the results aren’t there, prepare to make adjustments until they are.

Implementing, evaluating, maintaining, adjusting, and expanding your technology architecture takes time and commitment. It’s an ongoing process and should be part of a living, breathing HR technology strategy. For example, let’s say one of your goals is to increase candidate engagement. As part of your strategic planning process, you determine that a sourcing automation tool is what your organization needs. You set up the tool and it produces mediocre candidates. So you then have to tell the tool what went wrong and fix it. If you don’t make adjustments, no matter how good the tool is, the results won’t be there. Adaptability and agility are crucial when implementing and improving your tech tools.


Pitfall #3: Not involving your team effectively.

You need buy-in and engagement across your team before implementing new tech tools. You also need to identify who owns the project. More than 80% of organizations struggle with adoption challenges when implementing technology. Often linking back to not having the right people involved from the beginning. Should someone from the IT team or a business analyst lead the effort? Try forming a committee or task force with representation from various parts of the organization. Identify the right people on your team. Include those who will be end-users of the tool, to help choose, implement, evaluate, and maintain the software. Lack of preparation, not meeting user needs, unclear user benefits, and poor user experiences are common reasons technologies aren’t embraced internally.


Pitfall #4: Not piloting before implementing.

Are you so excited about the new tool that you want to rush to implement it? Don’t. Instead, identify risks and challenges upfront. Work with your partner to do a controlled, measured pilot program before fully scaling the solution. A demo or even a trial isn’t enough to be ready for full implementation. No matter what the size of your organization, start small.

For example, perhaps an organization is looking to invest in a platform to help its recruiters more efficiently source and connect with interested candidates. They want to increase placements per recruiter by 50%. The organization builds a new candidate engagement platform and identifies a control group to pilot the technology. Initially, the control group does not see any material changes in placements per recruiter. After assessing recruiter behavior, the team makes changes to where time spent throughout the recruiting process and how to prioritize candidates for phone calls.

After adding functionality to help recruiters prioritize which candidates to call and change behavior to spend more time sourcing, the team can meet its target of a 50% increase in placements per recruiter. These changes couldn’t have been made as quickly after scaling. Even at a small scale, a pilot can measure the KPIs you develop to determine the expected impact. Although the tool will require maintenance after implementation, a pilot will help refine the tool before adoption. This will reduce disruption for your team.


Closing thoughts 

Building a strategic technology architecture in your enterprise is no longer an option if you want to have a competitive advantage. It’s a requirement. Don’t be the next organization diagnosed with “bright, shiny object syndrome.” Your company’s success relies on tying your technology to your business goals and strategy while providing an exceptional experience for your candidates, clients, and employees.

Brian Cotter

Brian Cotter is co-founder and president of PSG Global Solutions, the world's largest and fastest-growing provider of outsourced recruiting support to the global staffing and recruiting industry.