With technology at its most advanced, many people think that the human resources profession will become obsolete and replaced with software. Others beg to differ.

Without a doubt, technology is changing the way we all do things, especially when it comes to the workforce. But, rather than overriding people’s jobs, technology can simply act as a helpful tool and provide opportunity for growth.

Acceleration of HR Technology

Industry analyst Brian Sommer, the founder of TechVentive, claims a shift to smaller HR departments could occur due to new technologies that call for more employee participation in HR processes. He claims, “Many businesses are going to get a lot of capability done by better technology, more self-service and the employee doing a lot on their own.” This will allow for outsourced HR companies to tackle bigger needs such as benefits and payroll.

Along with employee contribution, HR may also need to prepare to handle the challenge of a remote workforce. Companies will begin to cater more to employees where and when they are most productive—even if that means they’re in a different city.

Automation with technology and a new set of expectations would have to be part of the solution. Wim de Smet, CEO of Exaserv, predicts that “New technologies will be used to analyze the work production instead of the working time. Results will become more important and business will expect HR to be producing more result-driven performance analysis.”

The best thing about technology? Companies tend to have less-sophisticated automation capabilities than HR companies can provide, which may lead to a greater chance of outsourcing.

Increased Outsourcing

HR professionals are starting to see the benefits of outsourcing some of the functions for which they have been responsible for in the past. These include recruitment, benefits plan design and explanations, retirement plans, recordkeeping and more. The experts at Buck Consultants say, “With employees taking on increasing responsibility for their benefits, we’ll see not only the administration of benefit programs but the entire benefits department become outsourced. Service firms will offer ‘benefit-in-a-box’ models that will offer cost-effective, bundled health and welfare, wellness and retirement plans to organizations.”

As companies need to streamline business operations, management may start taking a closer look at how blending the services performed both inside and outside the organization can help contribute to their goals. In these evaluations, outsourcing could become one of the options. Some organizations are using it to streamline their HR departments and other functions to be better suited to the customer’s needs.

In addition, the internal HR function is still estimated to survive, especially for smaller companies. As Chip Luman, the COO of HireVue, says, “Given the ongoing regulatory environment, the need to pay, provide benefits, manage employee relations issues, and process information will go on.”

Greater Marketing Efforts

Technology could potentially take the HR profession into a whole new skillset—marketing. Especially when it comes to recruiting, HR may need to start identifying specific segments of either jobholders or job seekers they want to target to bring into a specific organization.

HR recruiting is predicted to resemble PR and marketing jobs. As such, recruiters will need to think outside the cubicle and focus on target audiences. They will have to start going where the people are. This can be achieved by using new age recruiting methods such as social media, for one example, as job boards and classified ads in the newspaper will eventually be a thing of the past.

As well as marketing, analyzing data would also have to be a new variable in the mix with the goal of becoming leaders in the profession. Just as analytics is used in many other industries, it will become a part of HR world as well. Although HR already uses some data tracking such as turnover rates and employee engagement percentages, you may begin to see new data needing tracked. For example, the average timeframe for staff promotions, percentage of top candidates to be hired and employee productivity levels could all be beneficial knowledge.

What can the HR profession do to prepare for these changes? Given HR’s predicted future into new fields like technology, marketing and data analytics, all the experts agree on one valuable piece of information: never stop learning.