Dovetailing Human Touch And Technology To Evolve And Manage Culture

Dr. Ernesto Marinelli

There is no question that the days of HR as an administrative function are behind us: Our audience has changed; they are younger and more demanding than before. The expectations of our executives have changed too: Under pressure to remain competitive, to deliver more, to move faster while keeping operational margins down, they are looking for their HR leads to act as strategic advisers. This means HR must consider the health of the organization’s human capital and ascertain its ability to compete and/or expand and innovate based on the existing talent pool as well as its ability to attract individuals with new skills.

In a recent conversation, an employee told me she believes human capacity management (HCM) is now more about culture management, and talent development, attraction, and retention all fall within that. She said, “What makes me fulfilled at work is the culture; how I am able to progress my career is down to culture. [My ability to] be myself and achieve a rhythm and balance of work and home life that is healthy is also thanks to the culture.”

I should add that this employee is not a millennial.

As we spoke further, I asked how technology fits into culture management; not surprisingly, she said it is pivotal.

However, deploying the right technology at the right time is key. The first step is to determine when and why it needs to be used – for example, to simplify and manage people processes, provide information, keep employees engaged, or simply add incidental value. While millennials are driving this desire to have a seamless transition between work and home lives, I find myself increasingly wanting that too. I don’t want to have to load up separate applications during the day and the evening; if a work app is not available on my phone or tablet, then it’s less likely I’ll use it.

To achieve this end, capabilities are being introduced that will herald a new paradigm, aided by artificial intelligence, in how people interact with workforce applications. In the same way that we receive notifications of birthdays or task reminders in our home lives, we’ll see notifications in our employee workforce apps, in the most intuitive way possible, whether we’re using an Android or iOS device.

Along with technology advancements, the role of data has shifted to play a key part in enabling HR to become the CEO’s strategic partner and adviser. People analytics can map geolocation of talent based on a specific set of skills guiding expansion plans. Analysis of how people engage with different offerings (for example how people use benefits packages based on demographics) can also help create that “made for me” label that contributes to organizational culture on one hand and generates savings by eliminating unwanted or unused programs on the other.

The bottom line is: Culture is about people. Keeping the balance between the human touch and using technology is a fine line to tread.

For more on building a positive culture, see How Emotionally Aware Computing Can Bring Happiness to Your Organization.


Dr. Ernesto Marinelli

About Dr. Ernesto Marinelli

Ernesto has over 15 of human resources experience. He is currently the Senior Vice President for Human Resources for SAP Europe, Middle East and Africa supporting his organization in the digital transformation. Passionate about transformation and the impact of leadership on people, Ernesto is a seasoned, goal-oriented global HR senior executive with broad experience in supporting the sales and services organization, as well as development groups. Accustomed to work in an international environment, Ernesto is strong in transformational work and possesses in-depth expertise in all relevant HR processes with a strong ability in creating long-term partnerships. He speaks Italian and German, is fluent in English and has good knowledge of French and Spanish. He joined SAP in 2005 as a recruiter and had several roles within the HRBP organization. Ernesto earned a Master Degree in General Linguistics and a PhD in German Linguistics at the University of Würzburg in Germany.