Workforce Empowerment: The Guiding Force Of Winning Digital Strategies

Greg Tomb

Part 1 of “HR-Driven Digital Transformation” series

It seems like “digital transformation” has become just another a corporate buzzword, but the fact is we keep talking about it because nearly every day we experience it – a new business model; a more efficient, faster operational process; an incredible online buying experience; or a revolutionary product or service that reorients the competitive landscape.

The IDC research HR Must Deliver on Transformation,” sponsored by SAP SuccessFactors, found that 84% of organizations are undertaking digital transformation, and 22% of those have been involved in digital transformation activities for over five years. Despite the time, money, and attention spent on these initiatives, companies still have a few significant barriers to realizing the full potential of their investments in terms of people, knowledge, financial incentives, and workplace culture.

HR Barriers in Transformation

Source: HR Must Deliver on Transformation,” IDC, sponsored by SAP SuccessFactors, 2017.

So what is getting in the way? Given the vested interest CIOs, CTOs, and CEOs have in how technology powers business performance and sets a path to future success, it seems like we might be missing the point: Until we recognize that our people come first and technologies come second, technology investments will never fully rise to their expected potential.

Empowering the workforce across all areas of the business

One of the key findings of the IDC study is that CHROs and their HR teams actually have the greatest potential and hold the keys – more than any other area of the company – to break the vicious cycle of failed digital investments and initiatives. The research suggests that a greater focus on people, not just technology, gives functional managers control to acquire the best talent, develop the right skills, and keep employees engaged and feeling accountable for their work and how they impact a company’s success.

I want to share four things to address in taking a people-centric approach to digital transformation in order to capitalize on the capabilities needed to compete in today’s highly digital marketplace:

  1. Bridge the talent-scarcity gap: The war for talent is fierce, but it’s more a matter of a lack of skills, as opposed to a lack of people. The future of work will depend on a workforce that has the tools to develop creativity, address complex problem solving, and engage in lateral thought. Using data and working with business leaders, HR can help develop a strategy to define required skill sets for years to come.
  1. Adapt to changing work practices: We’re all learning that managing a mix of traditional, full-time employees, along with the increased use of contingent workers, demands both flexibility and agility. New technologies can address ever-evolving employee behaviors and needs, and introduce best practices to your organization, so you can transform your structure and culture and give everyone more room to adapt, grow, and succeed.
  1. Deliver outcomes that matter: For an increasingly diverse workforce, delivering on business outcomes requires meeting their expectations – for flexibility, work/life balance, development, benefits, and compensation. This is creating an environment of different priorities and greater complexity, which equals a more challenging environment for HR management.
  1. Meet employees’ high bar for the workplace experience: Our expectations for the tools we use on a daily basis to get our work done have changed, thanks to the app world driving our personal lives. An engaged workforce demands that HR stays in the lead of innovation to make sure these digital tools work for your people and not against them.

Digital transformation requires that your people, and the people you’re looking to bring in, are ready for change. This puts people at the heart of digital transformation.

Find out the five key trends and actions that can help businesses of all sizes address the challenges of digital transformation and the development of the HR organization. Read the IDC interactive report “HR Must Deliver on Transformation,” sponsored by SAP SuccessFactors. And don’t forget to check every Tuesday for new installments to our blog series “HR-Driven Digital Transformation” to explore what these findings can mean for your company.


Greg Tomb

About Greg Tomb

Greg Tomb is President of SAP SuccessFactors, overseeing the end-to-end business for SAP's Human Capital Management Solutions. Previously, Greg was EVP, Global Services Sales, responsible for bringing SAP’s vast portfolio of Services, including services software, premium support services and the HANA Enterprise Cloud to customers worldwide. He assumed this role in 2012, to more closely align the Services and License Sales organizations to deliver a streamlined end-to-end customer experience. A long-time SAP executive, Greg has served in a number of senior roles at SAP, including president, SAP North America and EVP leading Services in both the North and Latin America regions. Greg holds a bachelor’s degree in Engineering from Penn State University and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Loyola University of Chicago.