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Tech investment: How to make the right choice and operate it effectively

By Jack Campbell | |6 minute read

The world of tech can be overwhelming. With so many products on the market and new additions coming constantly, staying up to date can be a daunting experience.

There are some general guidelines that can make this process easier, as discussed by The HR Leader in partnership with SEEK, with Coles talent acquisition national manager Mike Virgo.

“In terms of looking at new technology, it’s whatever your needs are,” explained Mr Virgo.


“If you’ve got a problem that needs to be solved, I think the main thing is actually having a really clear problem statement and understanding. Is there a problem that needs to be solved, and actually is new technology going to solve it, or can we optimise what we’re doing with our existing technology?”

Understanding the problem is an important first step, but with the constant evolution of the tech market, keeping up to date can be an issue.

“It all comes from having a problem in the first place, understanding what that problem is and understanding if a new piece of technology [is] going to be able to do that,” said Mr Virgo.

“The rate of change at the moment in the technology space, particularly around talent tech, you could be looking at every single month, but I think it depends on what your individual business needs are.”

Identifying issues within the business can be difficult and sometimes requires an outside influence to bring problems to the surface. Coles noticed this during the pandemic, as many areas for improvement were highlighted.

Mr Virgo commented: “We were working really efficiently, but at the same time when volumes really skyrocketed, it really highlighted and amplified the inefficiencies in our process where we had a lot of manual work, lots of clicks, lack of automation – that volume really amplified the gaps in that process.”

“It got to the point where the only lever we had to pull was actually bringing in more and more people, which isn’t really a sustainable way of operating.”
He continued: “What we needed was actually to show, here are all the problems we’ve got, this is why we can’t get the people into our stores as quickly as we need to support our customers, and here’s a solution that’s going to help us do that. So, it was quite fortunate in terms of it was the situation that created a lot of the business case for us.”

While the events of COVID-19 are an extreme example, it’s important to learn lessons from hardships and use these experiences to push for better efficiency. Bad times can highlight a need for assistance from improved tech.

“From our perspective, it was about being really clear about what our requirements were. What did we actually need this technology to do? Because there are a lot of really cool ones, but a lot of them didn’t actually solve the problems that we had. So it was a case of building out a really detailed view around what we actually needed that technology to do,” Mr Virgo said.

“We narrowed it down from a lot of providers to a couple of providers. And you get into more detailed demos and understanding what they can do and digging into the functionality. But also, the roadmaps, because what I found in the last couple of years is technology is evolving so quickly. New technology and new features are popping up everywhere.”

Mr Virgo noted that the upkeep of these tech stacks is extremely important: “You’re forced to be looking at your technology on an ongoing basis, which is what I think you have to do these days because it is growing and changing and evolving so quickly.”

“There’s so much opportunity for continuous improvement and efficiency gains and automation nowadays.”

Mr Virgo was named the Talent Acquisition Leader of the Year at the 2022 STAR Awards.

Submissions for the 2023 STAR Awards are now open. To learn more about the awards, or to enter, click here.

The transcript of this podcast episode was slightly edited for publishing purposes. To listen to the full conversation with Mike Virgo, click below:

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.