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How HR teams can support digital transformation

What is the first step for HR professionals?

Digital transformation is the name of the game for modern organisations, and it goes without saying that HR needs to play a key role in this process. However, few businesses are currently successfully managing to transition from a ‘digital projects’ culture to a continuously evolving and changing culture of transformation; that is, embedding digital at the heart of their business.

Digital transformation comes with many challenges that HR can influence and support. Widespread digital illiteracy amongst employees is a particular area of concern, as this naturally slows the progress and extent of the innovation that can be achieved.

Corporate cultures are also generally risk-averse and some business leaders still need to be wholly convinced of the necessity of digital; especially those who work in non-IT business areas or sales-related functions.

Other issues include general organisational fear of change, individual egos and internal politics, which must all be addressed to ensure collaboration across the organisation and cooperation to move towards a common goal.

Passionate and knowledgeable business leaders must be on board with the digital transformation process and must communicate the required changes from the highest levels across the whole organisation.

HR will have an essential part to play in overcoming all these challenges by implementing communication and training programmes that ensure digital transformation is well-understood across the organisation and that its benefits are clearly communicated.

HR will also be needed to support the process changes that will be necessary to underpin a changing organisation to enable it to fully leverage the potential benefits of digital. Processes, business activities and organisational competencies and skills must all be addressed to position the organisation for success.

HR professionals must themselves truly understand and support digital transformation and their own role within it, including workforce and organisational planning, skills, culture, talent, policies and procedures, and leadership.

These areas are all core drivers of digital transformation and of modern HR. A starting point for change is for HR to first think about how digital transformation will specifically affect their organisation and then to consider the activities and focuses that must take place to enable this change.

This means close collaboration between HR and functional business leaders to understand the vision and objectives of digital investment, and the concomitant recruitment and training needs. It is vital that HR professionals are able to secure the right talent and skillsets to deliver tomorrow’s roles, today.

So, what is the first step for HR professionals?

HR must primarily move away from the idea that IT is responsible for digital. In fact, organisational digital transformation is less about the technology and more about the organisational structure, skills base and working practices.

These are all essential to create a more innovative, creative and responsive way of working. However, HR must certainly work closely with IT to help shape the conversations and strategies to take the business forward and to create a learning culture enabling constant innovation and change to take place, all underpinned by digital technologies.

HR is centrally placed to help implement organisation-wide digital transformation and to enable the ensuing cultural changes to ensure that the organisation has a long-term competitive advantage.

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