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The Internet of Things (‘IoT’) refers to the ability to connect physical objects (‘things’) to the Internet, and this connection enables things to behave autonomously in a context-adequate manner and thus to become ‘smart’. Based on the broad range of application possibilities, the current paper aims to explore the possible future application and consequences of the IoT in HRM by conducting an explorative Delphi-study with 40 IoTexperts. The results of the study reveal the application of the IoT in HRM to be perceived as a likely development in the near future. The results also uncover various consequences of the IoT in HRM. The expected adoption of the IoT in HRM will first change HR technologies, i.e. the hardware, software and data of HRM. Second, the changes also involve larger modifications of HR activities. However, these activities are affected in different intensities. Third, the application of the IoT is also expected to noticeably change tasks and qualifications of HR actors. In summary, the current study indicates that smart HRM will constitute both a likely and relevant future development that needs deeper consideration.
5. Conclusions – results, limitations and implications of the study
5.1. Results of the study
The current paper aimed at an initial exploration of the future application and consequences of the IoT in HRM. Using a Delphi approach yielded interesting insights. Regarding the first research question, the application of the IoT in HRM (and thus the realization of Smart HRM) is perceived as a likely development in the near future. This is substantiated by the expectation of a future application of smart things and sensors in HRM, as well as the expectation of further phenomena as outlined above. Moreover, regarding the second research question, diverse notable consequences of the IoT in HRM are predicted. They initially and necessarily refer to HR technologies: Adopting smart things and sensors will change hardware, software and data in HR as outlined above. Second, the changes also involve larger modifications of HR activities, but they will obviously be asymmetrically affected by the IoT, as uncovered by the phenomenon of dichotomization in HRM. Further overarching changes, such as the acceleration and informatization of HRM, can be directly traced back to the IoT. Interestingly, several changes were both enabled and required by the application of the IoT in organizations, as could be uncovered, for example, in the acceleration of HRM. Third, the application of the IoT is also expected to noticeably change the tasks and qualifications of HR actors. While these results offer initial interesting insights, clearly indicating smart HRM to constitute both a likely and a relevant future development, it also becomes clear that the application and consequences of the IoT in HRM are far from being sufficiently researched.