HR's opportunity to shape digital strategy

I recently spent two days at Sydney’s Luna Park attending the 2019 HRD National HR Summit. This opportunity to listen to HR professionals speak about what is topical in their business highlighted common themes I’d like to share.

People – not technologies – will shape the transformation

Future of work – impact of technology on the HR function

Many of us have read articles about robotics and automation taking our jobs, some suggesting HR will become obsolete. It was inspiring to hear conference speakers and panel members present automation as an amazing opportunity for HR to step up and help shape their organisation’s digital transformation (DX). 

Nicolette Barnard, Head of Human Resources ANZ for Siemens, challenged HR to get involved in process design for business functions outside of HR, through contributing the people experience perspective. Nicolette reminded us that people – not technologies – will shape the transformation, and asked “who says HR can’t get involved in efficient process mapping? Do the people involved in the process have jobs with purpose? Question those processes.”

Ross Sparkman, Head of Strategic Workforce Planning for Facebook USA, gave a compelling presentation on the new world of work.  Ross guided us through the approach his team uses in workforce planning, highlighting the extensive external market analysis to identify future impacts on their business. Ross described five key factors that stand to impact automated work:

  1. Feasibility (of the technology)

  2. Development and deployment costs

  3. Labour market dynamics (e.g. if we buy cheaper labour from emerging markets, we may delay automation)

  4. Economic cost and benefits

  5. Regulation and social acceptance

Clearly the assessment of these factors is not just a technological one but needs that human perspective that the HR skill set brings. Ross went on to urge HR to start assessing how prepared they are for the future, in the context of the organisation’s digital strategy.

Digital Strategy - HR’s role

Do you have a digital strategy yet in your organisation? HR can and should take an important role in the creation of your organisation’s digital strategy. Ross Sparkman spoke about embracing and designing the new digital talent life-cycle and provided insight summarised briefly below:

  • Think of the digital strategy as a digital blueprint for how the company will operate in the future.

  • Develop an inventory of your roles, skills and capabilities you have in your organisation today, and measure how competent you are at those

  • HR needs to understand your business today – talk to your business leaders

  • Begin a dialog about what skills are needed in the future – this dialog should be cross functional and include all the business leaders

  • How will HR map competencies and develop leaders with these skills?

The above points highlight the importance of a capability framework. This resonated with me, in relation to working with HR teams during their HR technology journey. Occasionally I find that there is no clear job architecture and capability framework in place, which then hinders, limits or slows down design decisions. For HR to help shape the DX for their organisation, a defined capability framework for the current and future state roles and skills is invaluable for internal development and workforce planning. 

This piece was written by Presence of IT's Sheryl Grant and published on LinkedIn.