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When I was at Gartner, I attended an analyst day for a talent management vendor whose CEO asked us our definition of a core HR system. I raised my hand and answered, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, that it was a work and life event processing engine. That is still true, but it is terribly limiting view in today’s world.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash


We are all familiar with work events. There are numerous examples like opening a new position, promoting a worker, giving a bonus, or requesting time off. Much of the HR technology we have on the market today has focused on changing the work of HR. Instead of employees and managers filling out paper forms for these events and HR entering that data into a system, employee and manager self-service (ESS/MSS) (i.e., direct access) applications pushed data entry closer to the source. HR had less “busy work” and these applications improved data quality, process cycle time, and reduced costs. All good things.

What is different now?

First, we have wrung almost all the value there is out of automating what used to be paper-based processes.

Second, digital technologies from the consumer world provide us a platform to deliver re-imagined experiences and HR processes. Let’s see how that might play out with life events.


Life events are often “moments that matter” like … starting a new job, getting married, moving, or having a child. ESS applications have focused on managing the checklist of things HR needs the worker to do or update. However, from the worker perspective, these events can be very high-stress and often life-changing. Updating the HR system should be a by-product, not the focus of the experience. It is about the interaction, not just the transaction.

Photo by Seb Creativo on Unsplash

Photo by Seb Creativo on Unsplash


I am logged into my work network and I call up a bot.

  • Me: I am moving in two weeks.
  • Bot: Thank you for letting us know. Can you please tell me where you are moving to?
  • Me: Here is my new address.
  • Bot: Thank you. Can I ask you some additional questions because of your move?

I answer the bot’s questions. At the end of the conversation, the bot provides me a link to FAQs about moving benefits and updates the necessary information in the HR system related to the move.

I did not have to log in to the HR system, figure out where to navigate, or talk to anyone in HR or a service center. I just answered questions about the event. And this is just one example. To learn more ways HR organizations are applying AI to their service delivery models, check out this chat.

It still accomplished what HR needed, but the experience was designed to make it easy for me.

Persona-based experiences (interactions and transactions supported by the right content) leveraging the right channel at the right time are possible today. We have the technology.

Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

As you look at your strategy and roadmap …. start preparing now.