When the World Wide Web burst onto the scene a couple of years ago, the hype and frenzy approximated that of a traveling carnival. The press touted it as the most revolutionary breakthrough since the printing press, and companies viewed it as a ticket to greater performance and profits. About the only thing missing was P.T. Barnum handing out modems on the midway.
Unfortunately, many bold predictions have stalled out. But, make no mistake, the Web is here to stay. It's changing the way people work, interact and think. Says Neal M. Goldsmith, publisher of BusinessTech, a Web-based periodical out of New York City focusing on Internet business and emerging technology, "It's breaking down boundaries and creating greater connectivity." Adds Dave Rothschild, director of client applications for Netscape Communications Corp., a Web-browser software company based in Mountain View, California, "It's the world's largest encyclopedia, and it's one that changes every day."
For HR, the Web has led to dramatic changes. It's allowing corporations to market themselves directly to college students and professionals—24 hours a day. As resumes stream in, they're automatically routed into databases. When a manager needs to fill a position, it's possible to search on keywords and find top prospects. Then, using videoconferencing software over the Internet, it's even possible to conduct a preliminary interview.
Recruiting may have been the first big HR application for the Web, but it isn't the only one. It's also possible to outsource payroll, benefits administration and more. It's relatively simple to connect employees worldwide for training through the Net. And then there's the ability to conduct research on anything from benchmarking to TQM.
HR is at the center of a changing electronic universe. It's the department that's being looked at to drive gains and provide strategic skills. That means learning how the Internet works and how companies can use it to their maximum advantage. So be prepared to explore new opportunities.
Workforce, March 1997, Vol. 76, No. 3, p. 76.