Resilient HR and a Foundation of API Integration

By Brian Busch in Posted Mar 2, 2021

Maybe it's happened to you as well lately? You join an otherwise mundane Tuesday morning meeting and find yourself shocked to see your coworker's Zoom background is your office.

In my case, it was the big conference room where I’ve been a part of countless meetings. This unexpected image of a place I’ve spent so much time made me reevaluate just how much things have changed in the work world since March:

  1. I have a new coworker and peer who I’ll work closely with, who I’ve never met in person.
  2. I haven’t been into the office (RIP to my desk plant...) in almost a year.
  3. I now know how my coworker’s dog is feeling based on where he is in the background of video calls. Now that I think about it, I might know the dog’s emotional state better than my coworker’s. Hmm...

resilient HR

The Idea Behind Resilient HR

It’s the fact that I have coworkers going back to the office, returning to life as it was, that reminded me of a recent post from HR thought-leader Josh Bersin. In the post, Bersin introduces the idea of Resilient HR and its seven key tenets, but I think these sentences capture the essence of the idea:

By necessity, black swan events change the operating model for HR. Now, rather than building organizations that are efficient, highly aligned, and scalable – we need to build organizations that are fast, adaptive, and easy to change. This is what we call Resilient HR.

Bersin puts this transformed operating model in the context of Covid-19 with four phases (below). What I find most interesting is that the transformation he’s discussing comes after the ‘Return’ phase - i.e. my coworkers back in the office.

resilient HR


How to Achieve Resilient HR? More Rapid Digital Transformation

Of course, the Bersin academy is happy to certify you on Resilient HR if you want to go deep. In another recent post on productivity, Bersin quotes executives he’s spoken with when he says, “the pandemic is an excuse for an ‘instant digital transformation’ and companies are clearing out the clutter, reducing red tape, and getting projects accomplished.”  

What stands out to me in all this is the need to configure and deploy solutions in days or weeks, not months or years:

"Resilient HR rewards fast, cross-functional solutions that can be built, launched, monitored, and continually improved in days or weeks.

Before the pandemic, most companies had multi-year programs to drive HR technology, culture, careers, or other initiatives. Now we have to react in hours or days, so we need to build new solutions, deploy them, monitor them, and improve them on a regular basis."

Now, everyone has a take on digital transformation post-Covid-19, from McKinsey (looking at closed curtains) to Deloitte (x-ray vision), to a host of Forbes thought-leaders, but as much as we might jeer at this ‘digital transformation consultants have handed us,’ we cannot deny the role technology and data play in the ‘fast, cross-functional solutions’ Bersin is talking about in the new, resilient operating model for HR.

We need to cut through buzzwords like ‘composability’ that make the nuts and bolts of digital transformation abstract. A challenge we often see among our direct customers (like DocuSign) or our customers’ customers (like the multinationals running SAP and using SAP’s Cloud Platform Integration) is that sitting behind various applications’ APIs are data, while the ‘fast, cross-functional’ solutions we need are built on data operations.

CIOs Need to Rethink API Integration. One-to-Many Is the Key.

Said another way, the CIO’s office typically thinks about integrations as the graphic on the left (below): move data from application A, map and transform the data, add/update the data in system B, and vice versa. As much as legacy iPaaS vendors might talk about ‘one-to-many’ integration patterns, their products are still architected for that point-to-point motion (again, the left side of the graphic). And complex integrations in the left-side paradigm often take months or years.

However, ‘react[ing] in hours or days’ as Bersin advocates requires integrations that look like the right side of the graphic: moving up from the system/application level the teams looking to create and deploy new solutions in days or weeks need data operations (i.e. process-based APIs) and even standardized data models (i.e. canonical data objects) to work with.

resilient HR systems


In a nutshell, you might call this the difference between a traditional iPaaS and an API integration platform. The core (keystone) concept is that data virtualization is the enabler of one-to-many patterns. 

Learn more about how data virtualization supports a true one-to-many motion and how HR leaders gain real-world benefits from it in our latest eBook.

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