Key takeaways from Unleash, Paris 2019 – Part 4: The Digital Transformation of HR

Photo: Littal Shemer Haim ©

Key takeaways from Unleash, Paris 2019 – Part 4: The Digital Transformation of HR

This blog is a part of four blog series that covers my key takeaways from sessions and demos at Unleash, Paris 2019. The 1st blog was focused on the future of work and learning. The 2nd covered new technologies for career paths. The 3rd was all about the People Analytics journey. This last blog in the series explores insights about the digital transformation of HR.

 

HR will focus on what matters

How we can create real value for managers, employees, customers, and businesses in our data-driven age? Janina Kugel, Chief Human Resources Officer at Siemens shared her point of view about the digital transformation of HR. Kugel believes that HR must step up to create real value for all its stakeholders to realize the real power of digital transformation. She discussed how a company of 380,000 people prepares for the digital future and offered valuable insights from an insider’s look at a cultural and technological transformation.

According to Kugel, in order to create value for clients around the world, the company depends on the collective intelligence of diverse and cross-functional teams. For HR, the challenge is to create value both for employees and business, while shaping the future of work. This is done by encouraging self-responsibility and career ownership and developing smart tools and platforms that allow people to be more flexible, efficient and creative. HR automation, via chatbots and job tagging, enables HR to focus on what matters: continuous learning and personal growth, fostering collaboration across levels and teams, and encouraging leaders to put people in the center.

 

Technology will power the future of work

A different approach to the technological change in HR was offered by Mark Brandau, Principal Analyst at Forrester, who discussed the new Core HR systems that will power the future of work. Core HR systems are redefined. Brandau examined the converging use of AI, Blockchain, and Skills Ontologies to create a new ‘foundation’ for adaptive workforces and people management.

Brandau described the future of work as adaptive enterprises, which go beyond agile and digital transformation. “They win by anticipating tomorrow’s customer and employee’s needs – today!” he emphasized. Then, they will proactively re-configure themselves to meet those needs. However, most organizations are not ready, according to Forrester Research: Employees doubt their skills and leaders haven’t mastered new technologies or change management. While freelancing continues to rise, organizations don’t have the right skills, roles, and structures. “Adaptive talent management will leverage people’s skills, teams, new analytics, and AI, to continuously attract, develop, and retain a comprehensive fluid workforce that delivers customer-obsessed strategies,” he explained.

 

Implementations and concerns

One example of a vision for HR technology was offered by Oracle. Guy Waterman, Senior Product Strategy Director, shared Oracle’s point of view on the Human Capital technology landscape, how it sees HR technology as an enabler of business success, and its ideas for what the future of work will look like and how workplace technologies will evolve and advance to help create that future. He suggested ways to align HR and workplace technology strategies with where the future of work and workplace technology is headed.

According to Waterman, in order to meet the greatest challenges of the future, HR core systems will improve employee experience, work as an innovative platform and will enable career mobility.  The three core elements of pervasive AI will be adaptive intelligent apps, intelligent UX and digital assistants. The human-centric user design will enable conversational experience, machine responsiveness, predictive search, and notifications.

The main concern I have, after exploring the future of work with these fascinating perspectives of HR leadership, industry research, and vendors, is that all of this innovation in the hands of organizations will strengthen their power and control over people. Just as the seemingly free communication of social networks ended with bad implication on democracy, the predictive abilities that organizations will have may not always be in favor of employees. But, time will tell.


About the author:

Littal Shemer Haim brings Data Science into HR activities, to guide organizations to base decision-making about people on data. Her vast experience in applied research, keen usage of statistical modeling, constant exposure to new technologies, and genuine interest in people’s lives, all led her to focus nowadays on HR Data Strategy, People Analytics, and Organizational Research.


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