Seven reasons this new technology will be top of every visionary leader’s wish list in 2018

people first™ is the new kid on the block in the world of human resources and beyond

Under the leadership of chairman John Mills, HR and payroll solutions powerhouse MHR International has released a new global product to a group of selected early adopters – and it’s set to explode on to the scene in 2018.

people first will deliver futuristic people solutions built on the Microsoft Azure platform.

“We have developed an ethos, open people platform and app that most will not be ready for just yet,” says Mr Mills. “However, as visionary leaders begin to recognise the potential of artificial intelligence-infused open technology and a more people-focused way of working, people first will come into its own to support the future of work.”

As visionary leaders begin to recognise the potential of artificial intelligence-infused open technology and a more people-focused way of working, people first will come into its own to support the future of work

people first has already captured the imagination of analysts, HR futurists and forward-thinking business leaders across the globe. So what makes it special? Why does it represent the next big shift in the way we enhance people’s enjoyment and performance within their working lives?

01 Genuinely new technology does not come around often in HR

When was the last time a solution was launched that incorporated the best of what was currently on offer in terms of HR technology, but created a fundamentally different and more positive way of shaping working lives?

people first has everything you would expect to see in a traditional human resource management (HRM) system, but the team barely even talk about this aspect. According to people first’s head of marketing Juliet Hailstone: “We don’t focus on the HRM elements of the solution too much because we think it should be a given that HR technologies provide the tools to easily handle all aspects of managing people within an organisation.

“We focus on what makes the people first ethos and technology truly unique – the people first contract between employer and employee, flow technology to enhance enjoyment and productivity, infused artificial intelligence (AI) and personal assistants, pragmatic people analytics and augmented check-ins. No other solution out there is bringing these things together to improve the way that we work.”

02 people first is designed to support the future of work – and it’s ready now

Rather than creating a solution to support the existing world of work, replicating established processes and procedures, locking customers into technology and perpetuating the patterns that stop people being as engaged and productive as they could be at work, people first has developed something new.

people first chief technology officer Mark Williams says: “It’s tough breaking the mould, developing an approach to work and backing it up with technology to support its delivery, because some people will always say it’s ahead of its time or they’re not ready for it. I say it is long overdue – our working conventions still reflect those of the Industrial Revolution. people first is the long-awaited step-change that will quickly become the norm for new cultures within companies and the technology they use to support that culture.”

03 people first aligns with futurist thinking around HR technology

Analysts, HR futurists and forward-thinking business leaders are challenging HR leaders to think about whether or not they are ready for a future of work that incorporates both an emphasis on technology, robotics and AI, alongside a requirement to embrace the people side of work and human needs. This thinking has resounded throughout the HR world and many HR tech solutions providers will currently be scrambling to augment their existing technology to cater to it.

According to MHR International chief executive Anton Roe, they are too late: “The HR tech world has been caught on the back foot by the future of work, and we see many competitors starting to plug their solutions with stop gaps so they can try and meet the demands of the forward thinkers. With people first, we predicted what the future of work would demand, and had the confidence to build the ethos and solution to fit. It’s ready now.”

04 The flow technology operating within people first is not just revolutionary, it’s useful

Taken from both game theory and sports psychology, flow theory at work can otherwise be described as being “in the zone”, fully focused and productive, with massive psychological benefits of enjoyment and feelings of value, ownership and belonging. Represented graphically within people first, leaders can see the flow of individuals, teams and the organisation using data collected from various points. Analysis that can be used extensively, for example to predict overall business performance, flight risk, employee enjoyment and wellbeing, and managerial hotspots for further attention. This is data that leaders have been starved of presented in an accessible way.

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05 people first is infused with AI and pragmatic people analytics

It feels like AI and analytics are discussed on every street corner when it comes to the future of work, with many considering them with an air of mystery. people first embraces both in a manner that is typical of such an open solution, applying both AI and pragmatic people analytics in a manner so natural and accessible they are really only noticeable by the results.

Take pragmatic people analytics. people first absorbs data from employees’ day-to-day work  via their personal assistant, a bot that helps employees through their day and operates almost as a “Fitbit” for work, learning their patterns and checking in with them at suitable times. This data is usable by employers and employees and, more importantly, is useful in understanding employees’ enjoyment and performance.

06 The people first partner network presents users with a healthy ecosystem of open technology solutions

The people first app is certainly driving forward a new way of working for employees and employers, but another unique feature of the people first proposition is the technology upon which it is built – the world’s first open people platform. The OPP partner network provides an ecosystem of solutions to help organisations manage the health, happiness and productivity of their people with a direct impact on the bottom line.

people first connects to other systems using application programming interfaces or APIs and, for those with an eye on development, offers platform tools for building complementary apps and even chatbots. The upshot is that the people first marketplace provides platform partners with the tools to build, use and sell apps through the people first marketplace. This open model offers complete choice, scalability and a level of openness that is unheard of in the HR technology space.

06 The price is very competitive

At $5 per employee a month for a cutting-edge HR and talent platform, people first outstrips all other market contenders in terms of value.

According to MHR International’s chief commercial officer Tim Johnson, this pricing strategy drives value for partners and customers of the people first solution. “We didn’t want to present the new world of an open, flexible and scalable solution, and then attach a prohibitive price to it,” he says. “people first will support a change to the way we work for the better. We want the whole people first community to profit from it – partners, companies and employees.”

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Q&A with John Mills, creator and chairman of MHR International and people first

John Mills, you began establishing MHR International as a great British brand in 1984. Following principles of private ownership, continual investment and a collaborative, driven approach to innovation, you have evolved the brand to accommodate the global market with people first. Do you think you are a typical chairman?

I thrive on progression. I have never grown tired of technology and looking at how we can make it better – how it can bring out the best in people. I am not nervous of moving markets and their changing requirements. On the contrary, MHR International will drive change towards an improved workplace of the future. people first from MHR International represents our fifth wave of technological change. We have embraced the people first ethos, and have built the open people platform, app and API (application programming interface) library from scratch.

Can you summarise the ethos at the heart of what you are doing with people first and the other technologies at MHR International?

Sitting behind people first is the desire to help human resources deliver a shared, personalised and profitable experience for all employees in the world of work. This philosophy pervades much of what we do. For example, the talent tools within our iTrent solution are abundant, and both people first and iTrent have augmented check-in functionality.

When it comes to supporting the future of work, artificial intelligence (AI) dropped on to our radar some time ago and we have infused it into people first. iTrent customers can also have a chatbot to complement their solution, which allows users to take care of their HR admin tasks by texting the bot, which links directly to the system.

The concept of flow runs through so much of what people first is trying to achieve. Can you explain the background to flow?

When engaging in discussions and sponsoring research around the future of work, we found that many people do not seem connected with their jobs and we wanted to address that. I supported MHR International’s research team in exploring the concept of flow and we eventually felt able to build flow into people first in a way that makes work and performance more personal.

What do you think makes people first stand out?

people first is the culmination of decades of investment and evolution. It is a world-class product that is completely choreographed for the cloud and is infused with AI. It is a “push, not pull” technology. By that I mean we have created a solution that feeds data to where it is needed at the right time for the best results.

people first is the culmination of decades of investment and evolution

It reveals problems before they arise and makes sure that every individual within an organisation feels informed about themselves, their own progress and performance, and the performance and happiness of their team. It truly is a solution to support the future of work.

What of the future?

I have always sought to push the boundaries with MHR International, making long-term investments to ensure that we stay ahead of the game and extend our overall position in the marketplace. With people first, we have put in motion a process where we reimagine a work ethos, and develop the platform and apps that will allow individuals and organisations to successfully and joyfully progress in to the future.

My daughter, Jessica, has recently joined me in leadership to ensure that people first and the MHR International brand can continue to achieve this long in to the future across our product portfolio, which already includes the established market-leading HR and payroll solution iTrent, along with our strategic services and analytics division.

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