Factory 4.0, smart working, and the Internet of Things – all of these forms of digital transformation are top of mind for many executives. Although opportunities for change are nothing new, companies worldwide are now looking intently for new ways to digitize their processes.
Why is it so fashionable to talk about digital transformation now?
Technology has radically changed human relationships and the way we relate to other people, companies, institutions, and organizations. Mobile devices, social media, and, more recently, the Internet of Things have opened up opportunities that were unthinkable only a few years ago. Contacts have multiplied exponentially. Available information is endless. And everything is accessible in real time.
This technology revolution has occurred before our very eyes – at home and at work. Although companies, once innovators and champions of new technologies, are now followers of what we adopt in our personal lives, struggling to understand these trends and find ways to use them to become more profitable.
Some companies, such as Airbnb or Uber, were able to intercept these trends and gain a competitive advantage over traditional, non-digital-native companies. These companies are nothing more than digital platforms that have managed to connect supply and demand without unnecessary and uneconomical intermediaries. But the secret to their success is the use of actively customer-centric platforms that are capable of entirely personalizing service through new technologies such as Big Data.
The experience is similar to a small town shop, where the shopkeeper knows his customers as individuals and perfectly anticipates their habits and needs. Through technology, companies are scaling the “village shop” model and giving their customers the same attention and care.
How digital transformation is changing HR
In this context, HR is facing a double challenge: 1) invest in digital skills, and 2) provide its internal customers a new talent experience that is similar to the one they have as consumers in a digital market.
For most companies, investing in digital skills means hiring digital natives, but they must also enable the entire workforce to move digitally through the company. Social media, analytics, mobile solutions, and the cloud must be the cornerstone of our organizations, delivering the flexibility that people expect today.
Improving the internal work experience requires continual refinement of the experience that people have when they interact with HR or engage with business processes. Just like with our customer experiences, we now have the technology, analytics, and machine learning to bring the “village shop” model to HR on a larger scale.
HR should take inspiration from platform companies like Airbnb and Uber to become a sort of an internal company platform. In this way, they can unleash the hidden potential of our still highly bureaucratic organizations to connect individuals that have been separated by hierarchies.
We must learn to simplify – remove and not add complexity. I like to think that HR’s new mission is not to introduce new initiatives or futuristic programs, but to eliminate the limits of organizations born and designed with last-century logic. We should simplify the business dynamics and make them faster and more responsive to the increasingly diverse market needs.
Where you would start? What would you like to remove first?