It happened again. When recently joining a conference focused on HR innovation, virtually all participants were resonating about the excitement of being part of the never-ending journey towards digital excellence. Attendees were introducing themselves and sharing experiences about working in the digital space. Wondering what digital transformation programs I had been working on. Gauging my views about the latest and greatest in tech innovation.

The truth is, I felt as if we were all in a world of our own, albeit a shared somehow virtual world. Sure, it’s exciting to talk about change and technology and innovation and transformation and digitalization and… gasp… But who really cares apart from those of us inside that meeting room and other HR professionals around the globe? What is it with this fetish for digitalization and virtualization? Is that the language of our main client, of our employees? I guess you know the answer…

2 weeks later, back at work, far from flashy presentations and too-good-to-be-true demos. We were in the middle of doing UAT’s around the implementation of a new HR state-of-the-art application allowing to manage all learning processes. Everyone was thrilled about the many opportunities this platform could offer, bringing efficiency and structure into an area that had been problematic to manage for years. Centralize and control. Exactly what management was looking for.

But then the users came into the picture. Not the HR professional, but a down-to-earth employee whose interest is not in having a tool with plenty of fancy features, nice management dashboards, great workflows. Someone who simply wants to find and enrol himself in an available training course. The ultimate stake holder.

Alex was one of them. And Alex mentioned something pretty interesting during the testing. Obviously, as a first-time user who had received only limited training, aimed specifically at executing test cases, he got stuck a number of times. “Why doesn’t this thing talk back? It just gives me cryptic error or success messages. Why can’t I tell it what I want to do in my own words? And offer some assistance by guiding me through the process? And why on earth do I need to open up an application, run through a pretty, yet redundant welcome page and navigate through far too busy screens before getting anywhere close to where I want to be… or assume I need to be.”

Well Alex… uhm, you got a point. More than one in fact. In our quest to “impress”, we seem to be too concerned about impressing ourselves. But we ignore that the most of our end users don’t want to be impressed by HR. They simply want things to happen fast and intuitively. Sure, the experience needs to be pleasant. But pleasant doesn’t mean colourful, busy and a lot of information squeezed in a single screen. Navigation pages that show you a map of the world but don’t allow you to understand where you need to be going. That’s something that shouldn’t happen again…

Chatbots might offer a way out of this delusion. They offer employees a way to really ask for what they want. They take away the navigation burden and help instead of simply impress (or confuse). Alex won’t need to understand the vastness of features or applications within the HR landscape, let alone know where to find the functionality that meets his intention. One single channel that takes him to the right place, based on an intuitive interaction.

I admit, it sounds great and simple. And it will be for Alex if it works well. Getting there is another story… with plenty of opportunities and pitfalls. Interested to hear about them? Stay tuned for more.