How HR can lead digital transformation

Written by
Changeboard Team

10 Jul 2017

10 Jul 2017 • by Changeboard Team

Digital has been a force for transformation globally, across industries. Its impact can be detected and measured in most organisations.

However, to capitalise fully on the power of digital, businesses must now address complex factors that constitute persistent barriers to improvement. These include cultural change, how people adopt and adapt to change, and preparedness for ongoing evolution.

While investing in the right technology remains at the forefront of leaders' minds, other key issues include the need to align digital transformation with business strategies, structuring talent management towards strategic digital objectives and building and deploying digital competencies.

Digital alignment with overall business strategy

When formulating digital strategies, consider the following questions:

  • How will digital drive value for the organisation?
  • What role does the organisation want to play in the digital space?
  • How does the organisation want to win in the digital age?

Many organisations have failed to embrace the full potential of digital platforms, solely making products and services available via mobile applications, social media, and the web. These initiatives have not always delivered on service improvement due to inadequate planning and a lack of internal digital capabilities.

Meeting digital objectives

Digital transformation has a profound effect on HR and its role in managing talent.

  • Talent acquisition: Digital talent is scarce. Recruitment processes should portray your organisation as an innovative digital brand.
  • Talent development: Exploit your existing talent pool, providing employees with tailored learning to transition them to digital.
  • Talent retention: Adopt innovative and collaborative techniques and encourage the use of digital platforms, allowing remote working.

Building and deploying digital capabilities

Digital employees can be grouped into two main types: digital natives – those born during, or after, the rise of digital technologies – and digital immigrants – people born before the advent of digital technology.

The paradox here is that digital immigrants, for the most part, invented the complex technologies and systems that digital natives use so skilfully. This interdependency and growing diversity in the workplace requires HR to manage talent differently.

To identify digital employees and unleash their potential, HR is moving from process design towards people design, investing in digital employees and what they do, visiting their work sites, observing their behaviours. Armed with this information, solutions and programmes can be designed to increase productivity and engagement. Once solutions are identified, it is critical that organisations invest in building and deploying digital competencies.

HR also needs to understand the impact of digital disruption from an employee perspective. A digital employee is constantly connected, which adds to stress, and having to shift focus rapidly. He or she needs to be managed differently and carefully.
Ultimately, organisations – and their HR functions – have little choice but to embrace the digital transformation. There is a pressing need to re-imagine HR and the overall employee experience in real time.

This is a call to digitise ways of working, as well as products and services. With every employee now owning a smartphone, HR teams can automate, streamline and adopt a greater range of real-time and digital operations.

This must, of course, be accompanied by a fuller understanding of matters related to security, privacy and anonymity.