HR + digital transformation = business benefit or an untapped opportunity?

Earlier this year my blog post dealt with utilizing digitalization for acknowledging informal learning and making development visible within organizations. Digital transformation influences all organizations already, and I dare to say that if it doesn't, its existence has for some reason gone unnoticed. Now at the latest would be the time to wake up and understand the opportunities, as well as challenges, brought by digitalization. 

Prepare for the changing organizational functions

Digital transformation fills organizations with challenges requiring new solutions: routine functions retire, organization models become lower, employee's roles and responsibilities change rapidly and at the same time typical employment relationships are replaced with atypical employment relationships. Also, today's know-how requirements can expire even within a day. Completely new job descriptions are created and organizations need to find skilled workers to new positions - primarily by utilizing own organization's career development paths. 

In order to guarantee the competence capability of organization, HR should be able to provide up-to-date answers at least to the following questions:

  • What kind of skills and roles are important to us now and in the future? Why?
  • Planning and following development paths - how can we locate the rising stars?
  • From which functions people resign / need to be laid off? In these cases, how do we deal with the potential know-how leakages and are employees re-trained to new positions?
  • Which learning methods have we found the most effective? How are these methods enhanced?
  • Are there some mandatory learning requirements on our business field and is it possible to find more effective ways for meeting those requirements?
  • How do we utilize different forms of social learning in our workplace? How are the best practices divided around our organization?
  • How do we follow and manage our reward and incentive system in order for it to support the things that matter the most regarding to our business functions?

The list could go on forever, but in my opinion the previously mentioned questions belong to the core of human resource management and are also the most important aspects from the Talent Analytics point of view. The challenges brought by the digitalization can be answered with, what else than - digitalization!

Integrate digitalization as a part of your organizational culture

When solving the challenges brought by digitalization, the first question HR should ask should be: How can we proactively utilize technology to solve the previously mentioned challenges and questions? Technology and digitalization as such do not offer you a ready solution. Instead, you need to integrate them smoothly into your organizational culture. If they are integrated by involving employees to the process, it also eases employees' everyday work and creates organizational benefits such as improvements to the productivity of information based functions, intensification of innovations, as well as decrease in direct travelling and training costs. 

One of the benefits of digital workplace is e.g. an effective competence capability management. However, digitalizing learning and development requires a seamless cooperation and positive attitude towards others' scope of work between the human resource management and IT management. Also, too often there is still a need for interpreters between the system vendors and human resource management. In today's digital world we should already be able to manage without these kinds of middlemen. Even Gartner * predicts, that by 2020 a fifth of all organizations will include employee engagement improvement as a shared performance objective for HR and IT groups. 

As a first step in a process of turning the challenges brought by digitalization into opportunities I recommend all HR professionals to adopt open and fearless attitude towards digitalization, system vendors and own organization's IT department.

* Gartner research note: Working With HR on Digital Workplace Initiatives (2015)

Posted by

Maria Vihtkari
CHRO Chief Human Resource Officer
+358 44 525 0932
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