Driving digital transformation through HR

In a digital economy, every organisation is dealing with the challenge of digital transformation. To be able to flourish for the long term, it’s essential that digital transformation programs are focused on improving business processes in a way that fully leverages the opportunities provided by innovative digital technology.

Organisations looking to undertake the digital transformation process usually get started by coming up with a strategy, which typically includes buying some technology and building a team to implement it. While these steps are important, organisations who only do this much may be missing out on factors which are essential to a successful digital transformation.

Digital transformation requires a strategy so that everyone in the organisation can agree where the transformation is headed. It also requires engagement to ensure everyone, from senior leaders to frontline employees, is on board with the program’s objectives. If either of these pieces is missing, organisations risk encountering many of the common and avoidable obstacles to transformation.

So, before starting a digital transformation program, it’s essential to determine who can hold all of these pieces together. A forward-looking vision could be initiated by the CEO or other senior executives, but without early buy-in from senior HR leaders, it will be difficult to communicate the vision and ensure its understood throughout the organisation. For a digital transformation to be completed effectively, HR must be part of the planning from the very beginning.

Like any large-scale change project, the HR team’s ability to lead people through the required change will be the greatest driver of success. While it’s easy to get excited about cloud, mobility, analytics and AI, you still need to be able to articulate the business purposes these technologies will be serving.

Direct support for digital initiatives from HR leaders also sends a clear message to your entire organisation that these changes are important. In the end, it’s much easier to provide HR leaders with the requisite technological expertise they need to lead digital initiatives than it is to provide IT staff with the extensive change management and culture building experience they need to single-handedly lead digital business efforts.

Most importantly, HR leaders need to be accountable for ensuring that all employees have the tools and training required to be successful when implementing new digital initiatives. Just giving people a new digital platform and expecting people to engage with it on their own time rarely works, as they’re already attempting to juggle their current responsibilities with limited time.

Training will obviously solve certain issues, but it’s also essential to provide easily available resources for employees as well as prompt responses to any queries they may have in the early stages of implementation. Ultimately, it’s about putting people in a position to succeed which should always be the HR team’s responsibility.

This article was written by Presence of IT's Dean Gray on LinkedIn.