Talking Heads – 2019 HR in Hospitality Conference

By Steve Williams


The Future of HR: Technology

Eugenio Pirri – Chief People and Culture Officer, Dorchester Collection

The world as we know it is changing… And rapidly.

We have already embarked upon the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or 4IR as it’s become known. The stalwarts of 4IR – technology, artificial intelligence, big data and the internet of things are advancing upon our sector at great speed. We’re seeing front of house being replaced with self-service check-in booths. Machine learning is helping to create comprehensive guest profiles, helping us improve the experience we can offer to our customers; and big data continues to give us a deeper insight into our people, something we’ve never really had before.

This rapid of adoption of technology is exciting; bringing opportunities which will help our businesses, and our people, achieve more. In HR, it’s supporting our voice at the table giving us evidence based strategies which are driving real commercial change. We have the data to show the impact of good HR on the business and can offer our people career opportunities which are better aligned to their skills, talent and desires.

People analytics was the first wave of change we really experienced as a profession. At the time there was fear, uncertainty, questions about ethics. Yet now this big data is embedded in our profession, and is evolving, with our influence and direction. The next phase is about how we can use the likes of artificial intelligence and block drain within HR, and I’m even more excited.

The future is technology – there is no shying away from this fact. Things will change. Jobs may be lost or become obsolete; and yes, there will always be the fearmongering around robots stealing jobs. Yet when one door closes, another opens. As we increasingly rely upon technology, I believe it will only serve to reinforce the importance of the human touch; no more so than in our service-led organisations.

We can rest assured that we can never replace a warm smile, a genuine greeting and those magic moments with technology; however, what we can do is use these tools to improve those interactions. Gathering intelligence and insight so those small, real touches have an even greater impact.

The same goes for the way we interact with our employees. HR isn’t going to become a defunct profession, replaced by automated software. What it will develop into is a true value add to the business. A trusted advisor. The consiglieri. By removing the transactional, day-to-day activity through automation, it gives us the time and freedom to build creative, and collaborative, people strategies which support business performance and growth. Technology is, in my opinion, the tool which will help HR realise it’s true potential in a business.

Man and machine working together in harmony. That’s the future of HR.


Eugenio Pirri is Chief People and Culture Officer at luxury hotel management company, Dorchester Collection. His first book, Be A People Leader: A sustainable framework for achieving your full leadership potential is available to buy now. (