HR’s Role in Digital Transformation

We often think about digital transformation as something tackled by the dynamic duo of Marketing and IT. But there needs to be a third — HR. That’s because, while digital transformation appears to be about technology, at its heart it’s about people, and the relationships that are changed because of these digital technologies.

That’s why now, more than ever, HR needs to be at the digital transformation strategy table. Organizations need the leadership and expertise of HR to move through this change.

Unfortunately, HR is usually missing in action.

My Prophet colleague Helen Rosethorn published the report “HR as a Force for Digital Change” and I had the opportunity to present it today at NCHRA’s HR TechExpo (slides are embedded below and available on SlideShare).

[slideshare id=79163435&doc=nchracharleneli8-22-17-170825223004]

The research found that only 2% of HR leaders see HR as a key influencer on strategic decisions about digital. And fewer than a third of HR specialists surveyed agree that HR drives digital transformation in their companies. This is a shame because Altimeter’s research has found that leadership and culture are the #1 challenges of digital transformation efforts.

There are three things that HR departments have to do to ensure that they play a strategic role in digital transformation:

  1. Understand the role that HR plays today. The report lays out six different archetypes, ranging from “The Conventionalist” to “The Provocateur.” As an organization, and as an HR specialist or leader, where do you fall on this continuum?
  2. Determine the role HR will play in the future. Not every organization needs HR to be “The Provocateur.” The answer depends on multiple factors, from the industry that you are in to the level of disruption your organization expects to experience in the future.
  3. Develop a digital strategy for HR, both for the department and the organization. Given your objective, what will you do — and what won’t you do — to achieve it? This applies within the HR function, but also requires HR to have a voice across the organization. What are the capabilities HR will need to be effective partners to the rest of the organization?

One last piece of advice for HR functions — tap into the expertise and experience of your Marketing peers. They have been undergoing a digital transformation in terms of how they connect and develop relationships with customers. That same expertise can be applied to connecting and developing relationships with employees, from mapping out the employee journey to developing engagement strategies and tactics. I’ve explored this area as it pertains to the digital transformation of recruitment, which is one of the most marketing-esque parts of HR.

Digital transformation is tough work, and I can guarantee you that the magic happens only when you are working outside of your comfort zone.