Why security should be ‘front and centre’ in the HR industry

10 Nov 2023

Ian White. Image: ChartHop

ChartHop’s Ian White discusses his motivations for founding the people operations platform, and advises HR teams on how to mitigate the risk of cyberthreats.

Ian White is the CEO, chief technology officer (CTO) and founder of ChartHop, a people operations platform.

Previously, White was the co-founder and CTO of Sailthru, a marketing cloud platform that delivers personalised newsletter emails for publishers and e-commerce brands. Before that, he was the first head of engineering at Business Insider and built the publishing platform that powers the business website today.

White cites his previous experiences of planning and building teams as his inspiration for founding ChartHop.

“I wanted to create something better than the spreadsheets and legacy HR systems I’d struggled with,” he says. “I created ChartHop to provide a solution for organisations to connect and visualise people data.

“Companies need better data to make better decisions, create smarter strategies and grow healthier organisations to reach their goals.”

He now holds the dual role of both CEO and CTO, which White says “signals my commitment to staying involved on the technical side”.

‘By demonstrating the importance of security, you send the right message to your employees’

What are some of the biggest challenges you’re facing in the current IT landscape, and how are you addressing them?

Agility is key to reacting in a changing landscape. Innovations like large language models (LLM) are upending our industry. But at the same time, we work in a highly sensitive space as we manage people data. We must always remain mindful of the impact of our work on people’s lives and careers.

HR professionals are increasingly asked to use data to decide everything from hiring and performance management to employee engagement and diversity and inclusion initiatives. ChartHop helps HR professionals meet the challenges of a modern HR IT landscape by offering solutions to streamline workflows, improve efficiency and make data-driven decisions.

What are your thoughts on digital transformation in a broad sense within your industry? How are you addressing it in your company?

Having a single source of truth for people data is incredibly important. Storing data in one location makes it easier to ensure accuracy and consistency, reduce errors and improve quality. One source of truth helps HR professionals make better decisions by giving them a complete, accurate view of their workforce – critical when making decisions about hiring, performance management and succession planning. This strategy also helps organisations comply with data privacy and security regulations because it’s easier to control data access and track its use.

Keeping data from being siloed also helps organisations to:

  • Improve the employee experience by providing employees with a way to access their own HR data and information, manage their careers and get the support they need.
  • Attract and retain top talent by demonstrating the company’s commitment to investing in its workforce and providing employees with a positive experience.
  • Help drive, monitor and measure the success of DEIB [diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging] initiatives.
  • Provide transparency across the organisation, including closing gaps in pay equity and giving finance teams insight into headcount planning.
  • Elevate their HR teams from the back office to the forefront of the business.
Sustainability has become a key objective for businesses in recent years. What are your thoughts on how this can be addressed from an IT perspective?

IT can help drive sustainability efforts by creating a favourable incentive structure, helping to keep sustainability and impact front and centre for employees. The process may differ from company to company, but IT teams can help businesses achieve sustainability objectives by partnering with HR to raise awareness of sustainability issues among employees.

IT can provide tools and resources – like access to video conferencing and other technologies – to help employees succeed in a fully remote or hybrid work environment. Collaboration with IT benefits HR teams by optimising data centre operations and implementing better electronic onboarding and offboarding processes, performance management systems and training programmes. Finally, partnering with third-party vendors supports sustainability goals by giving companies access to cloud-based solutions that are more efficient than on-premises solutions.

What big tech trends do you believe are changing the world and your industry specifically? Which of these trends are you most excited about and why?

I’m most excited about the evolution of generative AI, which shows so much promise in revolutionising the HR world. Generative AI will impact so many areas of HR operations and the employee life cycle – from job screenings to performance reviews and training recommendations to personalised HR communications, just to name a few. With more AI infused into HR technologies, I expect we’ll see tremendous time savings and better decision-making for HR teams. This technology can help deliver more personalised employee experiences – like customised onboarding programmes, recommendations for L&D [learning and development] and more – to improve employee satisfaction, engagement and retention too.

What are your thoughts on how we can address the security challenges currently facing your industry?

Considering the number of security challenges the industry faces, from data breaches and insider threats to phishing attacks and malware, we must always elevate security to the front and centre. We had our first SOC-2 audit when our company consisted of five employees. We hired a security team and invested in Yubikeys and security training very early. By demonstrating the importance of security and ranking it as a high priority, you send the right message to your employees.

HR departments should implement robust security controls, including strong passwords, multifactor authentication and encryption, to protect their data and systems. Because employees are the first line of defence against cyberattacks, HR departments should work with IT to educate employees about security best practices, including identifying phishing emails and avoiding malware. Companies need an incident plan in place for responding to security breaches, including steps for containing, investigating and recovering from the incident.

In addition to these recommendations, HR departments can mitigate the risk of insider threats by implementing background checks, conducting regular security audits and providing appropriate training on security best practices. Cloud-based HR systems are typically more secure than on-premises systems because cloud providers invest heavily in security and have the expertise to protect customer data. A security information and event management system (SIEM) can help HR departments monitor systems for suspicious activity and identify and respond to incidents quickly.

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