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Leading Digital Transformation through Human Resources

By Carlos Granda, SVP, SAP

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Carlos Granda, SVP, SAP

What is the future of human resources?

In an article from HR Technologist, Rhucha Kulkarni asks, “Is the HR function defunct?” This question might insinuate that HR, in a technology-driven future, might disappear completely. But in reality, HR has never been more strategic to an organization’s success and a company’s brand. No longer just a supporting pillar of the leadership team, HR is now a function that helps define a company’s brand and the culture needed to attract and acquire the best talent possible. So it’s time for companies to relaunch and disrupt their traditional HR functions to meet increasingly strategic business priorities and drive digital transformation.

"An HR-improved vision and the right technology can foster a better employee experience, automate tedious processes, and aid leadership teams by providing analytics that show employee status"

The discussions and strategies of senior executives and board members prove this. They increasingly want answers to big questions such as:

• How can we make our business one of the best companies to work for?

• How do we attract emerging talents?

• How do we drive diversity and cultivate a high-performing culture?

For them, the HR conversation has already shifted from addressing compliance, audits, and employee issues to creating a corporate culture that attracts and retains the top talent needed to grow and compete; and achieving this requires giving workers a real sense of community and purpose– not just a paycheck and benefits. For example, in the auto industry, companies don’t just build cars – they promote how they improve people’s lives, care about the environment, and help provide clean water to remote villages around the world. Why? Because doing good and fostering a culture of giving back not only makes the world a better place, it also attracts the new type of worker who is looking to work for a company with a purpose.

These new responsibilities have made HR more strategic to the business than ever. In fact, a Harvard Business Review article titled “Why more executives should consider becoming a CHRO” states, “the CHRO role, although at first, it may look career limiting, can have more impact than any other position reporting to the CEO.”

Make no mistake: Digital transformation is critical to HR transformation

Given these trends, now is the time for your HR department to reinvent itself through digital transformation. Digital’s footprint is growing rapidly in our day-to-day lives – so much so that employees now expect their employers to carry digital deeply into their workplace. An HR-improved vision and the right technology can foster a better employee experience, automate tedious processes, and aid leadership teams by providing analytics that show employee status. This could involve:

Making HR processes data employee-centered with mobile-first as a priority

• Planning for a diverse workforce

• Investing in employee health and well-being

• Focusing on team and individual development

• Piloting chatbots in HR to provide self-service capabilities

• Using mobile enablement to upscale the global workforce

• Digitizing on boarding and employee information access

• Using a digital boardroom dashboard that shows employee and workforce data – not just financial metrics – needed to run a business

The possibilities are endless. And while some of these “investments” may not seem strategic at first, they are when viewed as ways to make your business more attractive to top talent. Younger workers, in particular, are accustomed to having colleges and universities offer exciting opportunities and resources (meditation rooms and opportunities for global travel to provide a more diverse view) designed to attract and differentiate. And these life experiences have shaped their expectations of future employers and their key criteria when selecting the next phase in their professional career. The fact is, your business is competing for top talent, just as universities compete for top students – and your business can’t afford to lose.

IT and HR Must Work Together to Achieve Digital Transformation

HR is now viewed as more strategic than ever by executives and board members, making it easier to secure the budget needed to move forward with digital HR transformation. In fact, this is why we are increasingly seeing HR leading digital transformation initiatives within organizations!

To get started, CIOs, CFOs, and CHROs must define a shared HR vision, along with a business case for digital transformation to support it. However, reinventing HR is no small task, especially for busy HR executives responsible for managing traditional HR activities such as recruiting, hiring, performance management, training, issue resolution, and compliance. Their challenge will be rebalancing their attention and resources to do it all: finding and attracting top talent needed to grow and compete; continuing to provide necessary HR functions while providing an exceptional, employee-centered experience; and cultivating a purpose-driven culture in the digital age.

Overcoming Barriers

None of this is simple, of course – in part, because CHROs and the IT departments responsible for deploying HR solutions may not be on the same page. While the upper floors are talking about digital transformation and attracting millennials, IT may not consider HR projects– such as the deployment of an HCM solution – as a strategic initiative that must be prioritized. There must be a new partnership between IT and HR, with IT helping HR to rethink how to approach IT through innovation, automation, and digital transformation – ultimately to improve the employee experience.

Investing in the right HCM platform can make HR digital transformation a reality. It’s about maximizing business value and getting to outcomes quickly. These solutions leverage leading HCM practices and centralize employee data, making it available in real time, all the time. They also deliver innovative ways to improve the employee experience.

HR is now the catalyst for driving a purpose-driven culture in the digital age. Are you ready for an HR disruption?

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