Digital transformation is a hype and constant topic today.
Technology is profoundly changing our society at all levels and flattening the world. We use digital tools to make friends, meet, stay informed, communicate and shop, as well as market ourselves, search for jobs and evaluate other opportunities. Access to information is easy to obtain, and a talented workforce is becoming increasingly mobile and global.
As a consequence, a company's overall success today is directly derived from the quality of its staff strength and corporate culture which provides a sustainable competitive advantage for the best HR management groups.
Technology is also changing companies from the inside :
Over the past twenty years, software applications have been expanded to all parts of the business. From functional business applications, mostly developed internally, IT development moved to partially cross-functional systems - ERPs, CRM and such. All of these applications and systems work in silos, preventing information flows and collaboration paths. As a result, the challenge with today's IT companies lies in the collaboration of different systems in connection with an ever increasing computer cost.
So what about HR leaders in all this? What will be the role of HR in the new digital age? What new skills will be needed?
The HR department's ability to do this will directly affect a company's chances of succeeding in competition.
Among the six HR competence areas identified in David Ulrich's work, technology seems to be the weakest in terms of quality of implementation, but it has the highest impact on business success. In other words, HR's business value lies paradoxically by technology and being able to own modern IT development issues.
Why? Since the technology in the company already addresses and automates most functional problems, but it does so at the expense of effective human interactions. Today, technology must center on employees' experience as a whole, linking people to information and to each other and providing individual and collaborative performance.
Technological centralization of business processes and information flows is an important business issue that cannot be fully addressed from a purely IT perspective. Such a Digital transformation exceeds the department's logic, which requires collaboration between several business owners and proper change management. As a consequence, HR managers seem ideally placed to own such efforts and move them forward.
As a provider of collaboration solutions for companies, when technology projects address the company as a whole and manage knowledge management, information flow or personal connections, we should find Human Resource in the front line. Strangely, we find that this is not always the case.
When it comes to digital transformation in a company, there is often a void in the company's ownership. Projects are usually initiated by IT, while their ultimate success is often in the company's strategy for change management. HR leaders can and should play a strategic role in this transformation. Not only will HR collaboration help with technological change, it will also bring HR to the business table as a truly strategic partner, not just an oversight function.
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