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Digital Transformation of HR

Published on March 7, 2017

The world of work is undergoing a seismic shift. Technology is changing the way we work, communicate, relate and above all the way we live

Digital HR is the foundation for organizational transformation to make it future ready. Digital HR is the technology enabled a way of work that leverages new age sciences to make HR transactions and decisions intuitive, informed and inspiring to enable organizational effectiveness. It is an integration that embeds HR activities with business on a real time and real impact basis.

Digital Transformation of HR

Understanding and embracing Digital HR will lead to a lot of HR aspects getting embedded in everyday work and businesses. The digital HR team can then spend more time on strategic initiatives, guided by insights and achieve higher workforce effectiveness. This will the enable measurement and monetization of all the value that HR has always promised to deliver but has often failed to display. "Go digital or perish" is the survival mantra for HR

For HR, the digital transformation doesn't just imply "digitally" doing HR tasks. It carries the potential of a new discourse about employee learning, satisfaction, and performance. Nurturing this discourse can be transformational for the entire organization, for the role of HR, and have a profound influence on culture and even well-being at the company.

HR is undergoing rapid and profound change. Once viewed as a support function that delivered employee services, HR is now being asked to help lead the digital transformation sweeping organizations worldwide. We see this change taking place in three areas:

  • Digital workforce: How can organizations drive new management practices (which we call "digital DNA", a culture of innovation and sharing, and a set of talent practices that facilitate a new network-based organization?
  • Digital workplace: How can organizations design a working environment that enables productivity; uses modern communication tools (such as Slack, Workplace by Facebook, Microsoft Teams, and many others); and promotes engagement, wellness, and a sense of purpose?
  • Digital HR: How can organizations change the HR function itself to operate in a digital way, use digital tools and apps to deliver solutions, and continuously experiment and innovate?

Over the last five years, the HR discipline has undergone a rapid evolution. Three years ago, we wrote about HR's "race to the cloud," as companies rushed to replace legacy talent systems with integrated HR platforms.

Two years ago, we characterized HR as a function "in need of a makeover," as companies focused on reskilling HR professionals, integrating the organization, and implementing analytics.

Now, as digital management practices and agile organization design become central to business thinking, HR is changing again, focusing on people, work, and platforms. We call the resulting set of HR practices "digital HR."

Digital HR builds upon years of effort. In the 1960s and 1970s, HR focused on personnel operations, automating transactions, and maintaining a sound employee system of record. In the 1980s, HR was redesigned as a "service organization"; centers of expertise began to manage core talent practices, service centers handled individual needs, and HR business partners began to be embedded in the business. In the 1990s and early 2000s, HR was redesigned again around integrated talent management, often accompanied by the implementation of new systems for recruiting, learning, performance management, and compensation.

Today, HR's focus has shifted toward building the organization of the future. Companies are hiring young, digitally savvy workers who are comfortable doing things themselves and sharing information in a transparent way. They want an integrated, digital experience at work-one designed around teams, productivity, and empowerment-and HR is expected to deliver it.

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