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The impact that technology is having upon our entire world is clearly changing the way in which we look at things; today it would actually be almost impossible to imagine a life without it. The rapid developments in technology power digital transformation and innovation across organizations around the world, changing business models and structures.
Digital transformation doesn’t only affect business models but also people management. Mobility and cloud computing allow employees to work virtually, giving companies access to the right skillsets regardless of physical location. Data analytics helps workers connect dots, work more efficiently and speed decision-making. Video conferencing tools fuel collaboration both with colleagues as well as suppliers and even customers. These changes and developments have an important effect upon the way in which people work, what their expectations are and how they see themselves advancing in their careers.
Technology is also reshaping the role of human resources. HR leaders now have access to different tools that allow them to measure things that were once difficult to predict. HR is becoming a strategic business function, enabling a broader collaboration between departments to improve the performance and analysis of talent management, and a greater focus on driving business results through the strategic use of technology. This means that HR managers are becoming more and more engaged in long-term strategic planning for business needs, and even leveraging their organizations to drive profits.
Technology is responsible for the decentralization of talent management as an HR activity - embedding it into the fabric of everyday business.
A study carried out by Kurt Salmon, in cooperation with Cercle Humania and Apec, provides evidence that shows the high extent to which HR departments are involved with transformation in general. It suggests that HR departments are becoming involved in the implementation of digital transformation, ultimately functioning as innovative engines at the heart of the company.
83% of respondents indicated that their company has a positive attitude towards Digital Transformation (48% open, 35% proactive). The data also shows that HR departments play an important role in the digital transformation of their companies, as their involvement with digital projects is remarkably high: 55% percent of respondents indicated that they are involved with digital projects from their very beginning and 31% become involved at the moment of project implementation. Only 14% become involved at an undefined moment.
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The digital transformation process proves to be wide reaching as it modernizes the corporate image, increases the efficiency, while leading to change regarding the existence of certain positions. The transformation is of utmost importance when it comes to recruitment. Given the fact that new generations of employees have grown up accustomed with digital technologies, they bring new competencies, attitudes and expectations to the job market.
These new expectations regarding the functioning of a company and its job requirements are under the concept of “digital working”. This concept includes, for example, teleworking, which is currently being debated across organizations as an alternative to the traditional “workplace” “office hours” concepts. Teleworking is enabled by the use of video conferencing and collaboration tools that allow employees to work from virtually anywhere and HR managers to recruit at an international level.
In what concerns the role of HR management in supporting digital transformation, survey respondents indicated that the main aspect which needs a higher degree of attention is the transmission of a digital culture (57%), since unease with regard to the usage of technologies or sheer reluctance to do so may indeed constitute an obstacle to the smooth implementation of digital transformation.
A new research conducted by MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte Digital indicates that many HR areas, like strategy, learning, talent and culture, drive digital transformation. The study is based on a survey that involved more than 4800 business executives, managers and analysts from 129 countries and 27 industries.
According to them, the organizational digital maturity is related to the presence of a strong culture and leaders that support it. Moreover, companies that are focusing on this aspect are five times more likely to have a clear strategy than those situated at an early stage of development. What’s more, the chances of having a culture that encourages risk taking doubles along the way.
Maturing digital organizations are interested in closing the skill gaps that interfere with the digital evolution. More than 75% of the survey respondents said that their companies are able to build the required skills, in order to capitalize on digital trends. In addition, change is becoming easier to accept and implement.
HR departments play a vital role in raising the awareness on why digital transformation is taking place, support its implementation from early stage and teach the employees to use the system properly. The respondents of this study indicated that training sessions and usage of digital tools is most appropriate (65%). Next to that, 49% believe that user charts are also a method and 46% implemented frameworks for teleworking.
Maybe it’s not the HR department’s job to define the vision, but it can surely play a decisive role in translating the process into values and disseminate it throughout the organization. HR departments are uniquely placed to help certain middle managers who are facing the problem of ensuring a line-of-sight between the strategy and operations, so experimentation, skill-sharing across business units and collaboration are vital.