Inaugural blog post — including a late-night call that inspired me to be an HR technologist






Greetings all!

This is my inaugural post for Bersin & Associates’ Technology for Talent Blog, and I’d like to welcome you to this forum for sharing insights and ideas on the rapidly evolving world of HR/Talent Management Systems — and how these important assets are best leveraged to drive significant value within your organization.

The decision to pursue a career in HR technology actually crystallized for me after Charles Bluhdorn died in a corporate jet flying from the Dominican Republic to New York in February 1983. Mr. Bluhdorn founded the conglomerate known as Gulf + Western, which later took control of Paramount Pictures Corporation, then changed its name to Paramount Communications, and was eventually acquired by Viacom. The night of Mr. Bluhdorn’s passing, I received a call. The reason – I had just developed a fairly basic Succession Planning application using what was then called a "4th generation programming language"( based on an English-like command structure), and I had just installed it at Gulf + Western. The HR exec asked me to "fire up the new application" for the purposes of generating the list of executives who were ostensibly ready to be their next Chairman. The list of 5 names included Martin Davis, who was ultimately selected and presided over Paramount Communications for many years.

While my career in HR technology hasn’t consistently involved being in the center of major historical events, I have been able to witness a significant ‘whittling down’ of a long list of universal talent management challenges not being well served or addressed by enterprise software solutions … to what is now a more manageable list. HR/Talent Management solutions are now much more designed and built for enterprise wide ownership of the Talent Agenda, reflecting themes like:

  • Bottom-up value creation and innovation … though social collaboration
  • Line manager enablement … of the people-management aspects of their jobs
  • Workforce optimization … e.g., leveraging ‘talent intelligence’ to proactively address business execution gaps

As a result, the business cases for investing in these systems are no longer just focused on cost-savings and efficiency gains, but their empirically proven impact on employee engagement, productivity, retention, etc.

Another very positive change has taken place relative to HR systems implementations, as organizations are now paying much more attention to non-technology factors that are equally important in systems roll-outs; e.g., change management, process and data model optimization —and how the system directly supports their over-arching Talent Management strategy.

My focus with this blog will be to discuss some of the advances I am seeing every day in the HRMS and TMS solutions arena; sometimes because I know what I am looking for, and sometimes the result of a serendipitous meeting with an end-customer or solution provider – the type of meeting where everyone looks at each other and shakes their head up-and-down as if to say "this is a game-changer."

So look for me to be blogging about such topics as:

  • "Advances in TMS/HRMS functionality that are more steak than sizzle"
  • "Are workforce planning and modeling solutions finally moving beyond early adopters?"
  • "HR Risk Management – using technology for Leadership Risk Management and other Workforce / Business Execution Risks"
  • "Are more organizations letting business context drive HR technology strategies and decisions?"
  • "Practical ways of predicting – and maximizing – the business value of HR technology assets"
  • "Moving from process automation to real problem-solving and opportunity-mining with Talent Management systems"

Or, even just getting some traction around "standard ways of evaluating usability, configurability and inter-operability."

What challenges are you facing with your HR or TM systems? Do you have a success story you’d like to share with me regarding your HR systems implementation or its impact on your business?

Send me an email at

Stay tuned — and many thanks for accompanying me on this journey …

Christa Degnan Manning

Vice President, Solution Provider Research Leader / Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP

Christa leads technology and service provider research for Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP. In this role, she helps businesses align their workforce support strategies with appropriate third-party software developers, service partners, and governance models. A 25-year technology industry veteran, Christa’s expertise assists organizations in creating functional capabilities and employee experiences that increase productivity, engagement, and workforce efficiency. Frequently cited by business and trade media, she has presented market research on business to business trends, leading practices, and expected challenges and benefits at industry and user conferences globally throughout her career. Christa has a bachelor of arts in English from Barnard College, Columbia University, incorporating studies at University College, University of London. She also holds a master of arts degree in English from the University of Massachusetts and has completed executive coursework on business metrics at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

One thought on “Inaugural blog post — including a late-night call that inspired me to be an HR technologist

  1. Looking forward to that post about ‘moving from process automation to real problem-solving’. How about a post on the role & competencies of the TM Technologist?

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