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Digital transformation – a guide for talent management

Feb 12, 2021


  • EDITORIAL TEAM Talent Management Institute
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According to an IDC whitepaper (“The Digitization of the World – From Edge to Core”), two-thirds of global CEOs reported an intent to move to a digital-first focus. Given how digital technology can transform most, if not all, aspects of work, its potential and implications for HR are in no doubt! Getting it done – that is the true obstacle and the final goal.

Which departments are spearheading the initiatives?

“The State Of Manufacturing: CEO Insights” report from Oden Technologies shows that 86 percent of manufacturers have appointed digital transformation leaders in the following domains:

Notably, HR does not appear to have a sizable presence.

But this is counter-intuitive, as digital transformation at its root is about people. The affected roles and departments are not just tech-intensive ones, as this transformation helps people act faster and decide better. Wider perspectives make for better implementation and training plans toward a digitally transformed state.

How important is transformation for HR?

HR uses transformation programs to facilitate the transition to and deployment of new technologies. The transformation however also needs innovations in approaches, people, and processes. The key ingredient is an innovative mindset, helping HR to unearth faults in processes and challenges faced by users, and determine the technologies that offer solutions.

How can organizations move toward digital transformation of HR?

Digital transformation is not just for goods and services produced by an organization. It affects how the organization treats its workforce and how HR interacts with and manages the workforce. As consumers for the services offered by the HR department, employees will also leverage the digital experiences, using them in their personal lives to handle their concerns.

From an analog, traditional practice, HR must undergo a marked change in appearance, nature, and form to become digitalized. And this transformation must spread through HR initiatives across the organization! The process should proceed in the following order:

  • Start with internal elements – culture and strategy
  • Move to more outward elements such as corporate persona and behavior
  • Finally, look at operational processes and how their people aspects can be digitally transformed

Why is it important to involve HR?

As people are the ones who will bring about the admittedly complicated outcome, HR needs to have a more active involvement. This makes for the ultimate HR challenge in managing change, as it affects all departments, levels, processes, and stakeholders of an organization, as well as the partner network and supply chain in some cases. The effect is broadly in twin dimensions:

  • Transitioning to new business models: such as old-school businesses embracing the new ecommerce age
  • Delivering digital from the inside out: Harnessing the digital experience to create sustainable practices in recruitment, training, and retention

Properly designing and delivering the employee experience is critical to the success of the digital transformation initiative. To this end, HR professionals can combine the power of technology with the human element such that new insights and adapted process bring value growth for the company.

What are the key domains for HR to facilitate successful digital transformation?

Successful digital transformation requires a strong showing in four interrelated domains: technology, data, process, and organizational capability for change. Here is a look at the talent implications for each:

  • Technology: It is critical to comprehend how emerging technologies can – in the specific organizational context – contribute to transformation, be adapted to specific business needs, and integrated with existing systems. This requires people with technological breadth and depth, demonstrating the business value of each technological innovation. They must be good communicators with the strategic sense to make the right technological choices.
  • Data: Data and analytics capabilities must be significantly upgraded, for which the right roles and responsibilities need to be created. This needs the front-liners to become data creators and customers, which in turn requires creating the correct data through better work processes and tasks.
  • Process: Traditional hierarchical thinking is not good at managing processes, as it pulls transformational initiatives down into small, incremental steps. What is required is to align thinking toward creating and improving processes, and to choose reengineered processes or incremental improvements as necessary.
  • Organizational capability for change: Leaders in technology, data, and process domains must develop excellent people skills to help the organization embrace the human aspects of change.

Multigenerational workforces in a rapidly changing world further pushed by glocalization make it hard to understand and plan for these talent demands. In these disruptive and transformative times, optimal talent acquisition and development ensure profitable and sustainable operations.

What specific goals should HR look at?

Successful digital transformation by HR must achieve the following:

  • Improve workforce utilization: For this, HR must ensure people spend more time on tasks that add value.
  • Work closely with leaders: so that they understand culture and pave the way for new mindsets open to getting things done by innovative methods and ideas

Which talent management trends must HR focus on for successful digital transformation?

To properly shape the future of work and the future employees in this digitally transformed era, here are five trends HR must note:

  • Mobility: allows multi-device connectivity to information and people.
  • Behavior: Employees are more comfortable sharing private moments online, and redefined work cultures allow more freedom and expression.
  • Globalization: The world is one neighborhood where talent is the most significant stakeholder, and it can be procured from anywhere across the globe.
  • Workforce demographics: Multigenerational workforces include large numbers of digital natives, believing in free will and the ability to effect change.
  • Technology: enables everyone and everything to work to their potential and plans, allowing improved efficiency, engagement, and productivity.

To sum it all…

From a state where people need to work, digital transformation is taking the workplace to a position where they want to work. And therein is the conundrum for talent management. Change the needs to wants, and you bring and keep top talent within your folds in the new digitalized era!

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