As discussed in Part 1 of this series, the pressure to adopt digital strategies and technologies is only increasing. With 35% of our population soon to be over the age of 50, this change is coming out of necessity. This is especially true when you consider that people in this demographic group are in a position to influence how a business conducts itself in the future – well beyond their tenure.
It’s time to talk to each other across all generations and levels – and even from the bottom up. Although this approach can be regarded as reverse influence, it’s quickly becoming the imperative.
When an executive team of 50-year-olds retires, who’s left? The people who only know how to interact with each other on a smartphone.
CHRO and CIO: The digital transformation power couple
For most companies, a modern infrastructure means integrating or replacing existing systems and moving to technology that’s less likely to shake up the business and deliver any integration issues. Unfortunately, this has made the whole architecture much more complex – to the point that the entire enterprise cannot move as quickly as its leaders want.
As the pace of technology innovation continues to accelerate, HR cannot ignore how adoption of technology – company-preferred or not – is influencing business processes. Since budget is the common denominator when it comes to delivering the process and technology employees need and want, HR and IT teams need to have open, meaningful discussions about the future of work – without letting budget constraints hold back the conversation. The CIO should set the stage for IT in terms of balancing HR’s needs with the corporate strategy and promising technology. At the same time, the CHRO needs to embrace mutual understanding and respect what the IT team brings to the table.
And for those HR and IT areas that foster such a relationship, the rewards are immense. Recently, I found myself spellbound during a conversation with Troy Barnett, senior director of IT at Under Armour. In collaboration with the company’s HR team, he created a strategy by understanding the overall business strategy, its workforce’s needs, and the tools HR required to meet those demands. With a firm strategy and timeline, he’s collaborating with HR to achieve agenda items that are driving high growth. As a result, HR and IT are not just another cost center – they are driving capabilities that lead to higher profits. Knowing that the company would soon outgrow its software and strategy of choice, IT and HR proactively implemented a plan to prevent any operational disruption.
The CHRO-CIO partnership is a long-term relationship – not a one-night stand
There’s definitely a difference between how high-growth and low-growth companies approach technology and innovation. High-growth companies tend to have a very innovative mindset – incorporating new technology and recognizing what is needed to build the business.
On the flip side, low-growth companies are more focused on driving down and controlling cost. Sometimes that means they are restructuring themselves, slowing growth, or downsizing. Even though they know digital transformation will help control costs and enable an already-overburdened workforce to do more with less stress, they are still struggling to prove a business case because the focus is on the initial monetary investment.
So here’s the rub: Do you concentrate your efforts on controlling and shrinking the budget or look beyond money to focus on productivity, innovation, workforce capabilities and talents, and the future of the business?
It’s all up to the management team. This is why the CHRO and CIO need to forge a united front at the executive table. They need to identify what is happening today in all areas of the business and then determine what digital transformation adoption offers, how processes will evolve, and when is the best time to implement. More important, each partner should then constantly measure the value of any change implemented to prove their effectiveness and value.
For more insight on digital transformation, see Why Fearing Digital Transformation Is A Big Mistake, And How To Overcome It.