The days of HR being treated as merely ‘just another function’ in business are well and truly over. Human capital management (HCM) specialists believe HR has reached a turning point – and businesses will either be ready to capitalise or fall behind.

James McKerrell, CEO of CRS Technologies South Africa, says innovation and the consistent release of solutions to help companies improve their HR capability is certainly a chief catalyst in uplifting the profile of HR in business.

“Traditionally, HR has, for the most part, been viewed as being mandatory and its importance was generally confined to a transactional scenario involving the dynamics of supply and demand. Skills required are sourced, incorporated and remunerated …but HR was applied if and where necessary. This has changed radically – today, HR is considered a priority and a game-changer for any business in any industry. There is a great deal more credibility given to the role of HR as a business driver and revenue generator,” says McKerrell.

According to McKerrell the more the market realises that this transactional type environment can be effectively managed with technology, the more influence HR will have in businesses. Technology is at the heart of the rapid development and growth of HR.

However, despite the obvious maturity of the HR industry, some businesses have yet to experience the true advantages. HR industry research, inclusive of the 2013 Deloitte Human Capital Trends Report, suggests that many organisations have yet to realise the benefits of the evolution in HR.

McKerrell agrees with the outcomes of this research and believes one of the main reasons for this is reluctance by HR to rely entirely on technology to accurately perform a large part of the job.

“However, this is mitigated by ensuring that the relevant technology is acquired and that this is underpinned by a good service provider who understands your business and reacts proactively,” McKerrell continues.

Partnerships have become critical to the HR space and a solid alliance can make all the difference claims the executive leadership at CRS Technologies SA.

“As soon as business understands that there are solutions that address the various HR needs they will get an immediate ROI on using the correct partner with relevant solutions, despite the change management challenges,” says McKerrell.

He adds that as with any high-growth market, there will be those who embrace the technology quickly and identify credible partners so that they are well positioned to leverage off the growth. “At the same time, there will be those who struggle and will have to adapt or die. The fact is that HR has emerged as the backbone of any competitive venture today and there is a growing need to have Human Capital Management strategy develop alongside the business and support all levels. That is the reality of the market today and that is the reason why aspects like change management have become critical to any operation.”

The view of CRS Technologies SA is that the HR process and relevant functionality has to be proactively maintained, regularly enforced and always given priority. This is the only way this ‘backbone’ can be strengthened and offer the support it should.