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Flash back to just five years ago — before the cloud enveloped the enterprise — and the tech tools that HR leaders had at their fingertips amounted to mainframe computers, huge hard drives filled with data and paper-based processes. Today, the array of new and emerging technology solutions for HR is staggering — from virtual recruitment software and technology that analyzes employee interactions to stress-reducing tools and social performance reviews.

Yet, many still argue that the pace of innovation and adoption in this space still lags. In fact, according to the Global HR Barometer, three out of four organizations are still using legacy systems. And as Craig Bryant, co-founder of consulting firm We Are Mammoth and founder of HR software Kin HR, wrote recently on TLNT, HR tech is making a “slow but constant evolution toward better user experience.” The key word remains — slow.

Flipping the Switch From Slow to Accelerating

Crowdsourcing, asking a community of people for ideas, content and funds, may prove to be the innovation accelerant the HR space needs to advance it into the 21st century, once and for all. Huge companies have already sought the wisdom of the crowd to do things like improve product R&D, product design, problem-solving and other applications. “Crowdsourcing is the art of tapping a broad set of people collaborating in a purposeful, structured, social platform to solve business problems ranging from high volume, low value tasks to challenges requiring sophisticated, highly specialized skills,” says Jonathan Trichel, principal at Deloitte Consulting.

Today, a new set of crowdsourced applications and products are entering the HR space — products that allow HR professionals to hunt for talent, to engage employees and to improve learning and development. This trend gives companies like Cornerstone new abilities to improve and refine its products, as well. Now we can give innovative HR managers hands-on tools to develop and customize their own HR solutions, unique to their companies' needs based on crowd feedback.

Business Innovation with the Crowd

In the words of Salim Ismail, founding executive director of Singularity University, “When you tap into the crowd, you sacrifice certainty for breadth of creative input, but as long as the crowd is large, you have the potential for incredible results at fractional costs.”

We've seen crowdsourcing HR technologies work in a myriad of ways, but one way has made room for smaller tech companies to innovate at a larger scale. For example, with the rise of wearables in the workplace, RevolutionHR launched an Indiegogo fundraising campaign to create a product that combines personal, career and wellness goals in one platform. Similarly, employee communication startup Zula came to fruition because of the backing of supporters on OurCrowd, Forbes reports.

According to Bersin by Deloitte research, 9 in 10 organizations plan to replace their human capital management software in the next 18 months. That gives large enterprise products and smaller multiple-team operations the chance to innovate and provide niche HR tech solutions that fill the gaps of previous solutions. 

“Will the future and growth of HR technology be in the fate of HR practitioner’s hands?,” writes Meghan Biro on Forbes. “Here’s to hoping. I welcome the idea of putting the workplace practitioners and their employees guiding the future of workplace technology. Let’s continue to drive the revolution.”