What we watched this week...Digital transformation can’t succeed without people – and HR

3 minute read

ThePeopleSpace editorial director Siân Harrington watches the HR videos so you don’t have to

Sian Harrington

The digital organisation

When I ask new members of our PeopleSpaceLeaders network what challenges they are facing, digital transformation always comes high on the list. So, I was interested to watch a webinar for the Human Capital Institute on this very subject, presented by Morné Swart, vice- president, global product strategy and transformation, SumTotal.

Swart starts by outlining the wider trends, reiterating many of the themes we cover here at ThePeopleSpace: that new competitors are growing faster and becoming more relevant than traditional corporations, unrelated businesses are suddenly competitors, the average lifespan of companies is reducing (last year 26% fell off the Fortune 500 list), and that people are generally more digital, more diverse, more social, and more automation savvy and expect their workplaces to reflect this.

The new reality for HR

But Swart’s argument is that HR sits smack bang in the middle of all this and can help business leaders who are grappling with unprecedented change by taking the lead and modelling how the organisation can thrive in a continuously disrupted environment.

“This is an opportunity for HR to create new tools and platforms to sustain the value of the business,” he says.

Yet, while 92% of companies are trying to reorganise in a way that allows them to build a new digital culture, only 14% are sure they know how. And while 40% of internet traffic is driven by some seven billion mobile devices, HR remains far behind in deploying mobile solutions, says Swart.

There is clearly a way to go. But what can HR actually do to help?

Swart identified the following transformation imperatives which he split into business, individuals and policy:

Business imperatives

  1. Restructuring organisations (especially in light of the rise in collaboration/team and networks)
  2. Eliminating unconscious bias
  3. Ensuring gender balance
  4. Improving workplace wellness
  5. Creating digital workplaces

Individual imperatives

  1. Evolving leadership role
  2. Demonstrating a strong culture
  3. Evolving performance management
  4. Becoming an employer of choice
  5. Implementing career management

Policy imperatives

  1. Automating work policies
  2. Individualised compliance
  3. Shifting content ownership
  4. Evaluating business impact
  5. Personalising experiences through machine learning

For people leaders, digital transformation means the need to connect their workforce to the modern, digital experience and educate their workforce to thrive in this environment. They need to radically simplify the development of organisational capabilities by empowering individuals with the tools that make it easy to identify development opportunities and define a personalised path for career growth. They need to equip leaders with the insight needed to lead their teams and engage in productive activities while fostering collaboration and continuous development. And they need to develop a sustainable approach to attraction, development, engagement and reward.

The most interesting part of this webinar comes at the end when Swart unveils SumTotal’s Five Stages of Maturity model, based on a survey of more than 7,000 customers. This shows the different milestones in the journey to deliver an integrated HR organisation.

The five stages of HR maturity

Unfortunately, looking at the results of a poll conducted during the webinar, people leaders have a long way to go before they get to numbers four and five in this model.

HR can help business leaders who are grappling with unprecedented change by taking the lead and modelling how the organisation can thrive in a continuously disrupted environment

Enjoyed this story?
Sign up for our newsletter here.