Twice last week I was involved in meetings where it was suggested that HR follows trends as opposed to setting them. First there was a disparaging comment from a colleague suggesting that the CIPD and thought leadership aren’t synonymous and a second that digital transformation is happening around us and HR is being left behind.
The sad fact is that HR is not traditionally known for early adoption; it’s business functions where communication and customer dialogue is crucial that tend to be the early adopters of digital technology in areas such as marketing, communications and customer service. Capgemini’s work at Morrisons to deliver a single customer view, social monitoring and e-mail marketing would be a prime example of organisations focusing their digital dollars on customer facing enhancements. Slower to come to the table are the support functions such as risk, procurement and, unfortunately, HR. Given that there’s a perception that HR has lagged in this revolution, how then can we step up and simultaneously transform ourselves?
To those that are saying it seems that HR loves talking about digital, but so far has done very little with it – I would challenge anyone suggesting this was because the solutions don’t exist because it’s already happening. Case in point, Rick Freemans’ blog entitled: The Digital Workforce – The biggest HR challenge for the next 5 years. Rick talks about the plethora of new and exciting tools that exist, of which few are readily available in the workplace. I would agree; especially when you consider things like social media which are now playing an increasingly important role in business and can give employees and management a voice beyond that of existing corporate portals. Social media technologies are providing new opportunities to influence the connections and relationships between employees, revolutionising collaboration and innovation, but while this type of transformation provides opportunities for HR we are now getting further into the revolution and we have lots more to offer.
The benefits of the successes of these new tools should also provide new emphasis on adopting new technologies within HR’s own processes and once again, there’s a lot to offer. Consider SaaS platforms that now allow organisations to say goodbye to terrifying upgrades and provide users features that enable worldwide access via Android enabled mobile devices. True Cloud technology where communities built up of the customer base all work from the same version and all contribute to its development. We also have exciting new developments in the way we train employee’s as discussed in Sara Joseph’s blog on Digital Training.
So if the Digital means exist why is it the perception is that we’re lagging behind:
1. Digital represents change: All this new gadgetry represents a steep learning curve and we don’t necessarily have that entrepreneurial spirit (as written in my previous blog Let’s re-define failure) to be brave and take a chance.
2. Digital isn’t understood: As we’ve discussed there are a great number of tools available to us. HRDs are struggling to understand how or which technology helps them meet their objectives.
3. HR is viewed as a cost centre: Why focus your digital dollars on an area of the business that’s perceived as not generating growth or revenue for your organisation? Surly the focus is on bringing in more dough.
4. It’s risky: Your employee’s data being kept in the cloud? Employee’s who can readily and publicly voice opinions on social media? What about a corporate identity online that you don’t have any control over? This is all scary stuff if not understood.
Perhaps the opportunities for digital transformation in HR have not yet been clearly articulated, or that HR professionals are seeing the changes as a ‘matter of course’ rather than ‘a transformation.’ This I can’t answer, but what I do know is that Digital Transformation is happening and it’s certainly here to stay.