Chief People Officers take up the Digital Transformation baton

Last Updated : 19 March 2017, 18:33 IST

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Digital transformation is an immediate priority for most enterprises, and C-suite roles are being redefined to align with this significant business evolution. Chief Executive Officers and their teams are facing the urgent task of designing and implementing digital roadmaps for their companies. The accelerated pace of change and influence of an increasingly connected world on businesses and end consumers requires organisations to think, organise and operate differently — necessitating a cultural transformation within organisations. And, as employees form the core of any transformation, HR leaders and teams are integral to orchestrating the change process.

Today, chief people officers (CPOs) are helping their organisations develop an agile workforce that has the resources and environment to anticipate and quickly respond to change. CPOs are collaborating closely with fellow business leaders to cultivate and nurture innovative minds and break down organisational silos to build learning playgrounds and encourage knowledge exchange, strengthen employee engagement, and enable smooth transitions — all valuable elements for facilitating digital transformation.

Who makes the difference and how?
nWorking as Strategic Business Partners: HR leaders should start believing and realising that HR is no longer a back-end function, but a central part of the business strategy.  People leaders that are still bogged down by the administrative aspects of HR are losing sight of the great opportunities they have to make themselves more relevant. Today, the HR role is not just that of hiring and retaining. It is about enabling change and laying the foundation for future growth through progressive people practices. Successful CPOs understand the future direction of their companies and align HR goals to broader business goals. They realise that digital business often demands new skill sets, especially in areas such as Big Data, analytics and social. So, it is important to devise hiring, development and employee engagement strategies that address the changing talent demands of a digital economy. Being proactive in identifying and addressing these types of needs is the name of the game.

nFostering an innovation culture: Digital successes thrive on innovation, and innovation starts with people. The most innovative companies in the world give their people opportunities to innovate, fail and learn. HR leaders should strive to foster the right culture and thought processes that give their companies a competitive edge. It is important that HR leaders understand and reinforce the business’ goals clearly, so that each employee knows how he can add value and contribute to the larger picture. The role of HR leaders is vital to cultural transformation, as they lead and facilitate identifying, developing and engaging a digital workforce.

nEmbrace Design Thinking: Progressive HR organisations are adopting a ‘Design Thinking’ approach in managing and developing their people. The design thinking approach puts employee experience at its heart, and aims at reducing workplace complexities to offer employees with a great work experience.

As per Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends 2016, Design Thinking is an important part of the new age HR organisation. “Instead of building programmes and processes, leading HR organisations are studying people to help develop interventions, apps, and tools that help make employees less stressed and more productive,” the report states.

CPOs would need to embrace this change and make it a part of the selection, training and employee development process.

nGetting tech-savvy: To succeed in the digital era, people leaders must embrace new technologies to make HR strategies more effective. Progressive companies are using Big Data, analytics and social technologies to drive effective decision making in areas like talent acquisition, performance analysis, attrition management, and training and development.

With HR analytics, people leaders can generate deeper insights into HR processes, more quickly anticipate or identify problem areas, and address them. For example, HR analytics can significantly improve ROI from recruiting activities by providing data-driven insights on the effectiveness of talent sourcing channels, talent assessment, candidate influencers and motivation, and competitors’ strategies in critical areas such as employee engagement and benefits — all of which help HR leaders customise resourcing strategies by targeting talent groups. Additionally, social media technologies can be used for effective communication, hiring and collaborative training. Automation of administrative tasks is increasingly essential to help HR teams streamline processes and optimise resource utilisation, and enhance accuracy, scalability, and consistency in services, while enabling HR to focus on more strategic areas

The way forward
It is evident that digital transformation will bring about revolutionary changes in the way organisations function. Culture and employee engagement would play a vital role in this transition. Fostering a people-centric and innovation driven work culture would be a high priority for all enterprises and a key responsibility for enterprise HR leaders.

In the global, digital economy, HR is a major change enabler. Chief Human Resource and People Officers, who successfully leverage strategic thinking, a culture of innovation, and digital technologies will help their companies leapfrog into the future.
(The author is Chief People Officer, Ness Digital Engineering)
Published 19 March 2017, 17:13 IST

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