Do you know what 'basics' you have to get right to enable HR systems to work?

I just attended a session called the 'Future of HR Systems', where I saw two great presentations from Michael Baker and Tim Ringo (VP SAP - SuccessFactors) on the potential of the new HR systems to transform how we manage people and to transform the value HR adds to businesses. They made a strong case that the recent forecast of the OECD, that we are currrently facing into 50 years of a continual decline in the standard of living across the globe, can only be addressed if we take advantage of the opportunity this new technology offers to manage our people better, so that we increase productivity.

Unfortunately they made an equally strong case, that I know to be true, that this technology will only work if HR gets the 'basics right' first AND in their opinion HR are struggling to transform (sorting out the basics) and that nobody else seems to be able to help HR to make this transformation. The audience seemed to agree that HR did not look likely to transform anytime soon. Indeed it would appear more likely that there won't be an 8th Star Wars movie than HR will transform. If the prosperity of the world depends on it, I feel we as a function should put a bit more effort into understanding what these 'basics' are that we must get right before the new technology can deliver its potential to transform productivity.

How many HR professionals know what these ‘basics’ are that you have to get right before these new HR technologies will work? If you don't you should find out!