Digitalization and Why it’s Time to Disrupt or Die

Gartner, no longer known as “Gartner, now CEB,” held its first official ReimagineHR conference earlier this week. A mix of Gartner analysts and executive-level HR practitioners came together in Orlando to discuss the future of work, particularly as it relates to the digitalization of enterprises and the employee experience.

According to Brigette McInnis-Day, chief operating officer and head of HR strategy and transformation at SAP SuccessFactors, we currently live in a “disrupt or die environment.” During her session, “Fueling the Human Revolution: How HR Can Lead Digital Transformation and Drive an Innovative Culture,” she explained the important role HR leaders play in guiding an organization through digitalization and creating a truly innovative culture.

“HR should be leading the digital transformation because we own the footprint of every employee, candidate, alumnus and retiree,” said McInnis-Day. “The employee’s heart is going to be with the culture of the company and that’s where we in HR touch every aspect of an enterprise.”

She added that in speaking with CEOs and boards of directors, the top two questions weighing on their minds are: What’s the future of talent and how do I drive the culture of innovation?

“I believe we in HR know what these topics are and we know these things are happening, but the question is how do we prioritize?” she asked. “We have to pick the right levers that will catapult the organization we’re supporting or the community we’re serving.”

The first step toward digitalization and innovation is to have a digital strategy. But, warned McInnis-Day, it can’t be solely from the IT perspective. The strategy must be holistic and reach every part of the enterprise. The second step is to assess company readiness, looking for gaps in perceived versus actual readiness. The third step is designing an execution plan because nothing will happen unless a company delivers the strategy and gets buy-in from everyone. Finally, there’s the sustainability piece.

“How do you drive a true physical, transformational change in behavior? You have to go back to ‘what’s my strategy,’ said McInnis-Day. “You need to ask yourself, ‘Was I really prepared to do this, did I really want to do this?’ Because driving a digital strategy is continuous–it has to be pushed constantly.”

She added that regardless of whether you have everything locked in and ready to go, you can still have a digital strategy. If you can identify the areas you need to change in order to evolve you can start digitalization at any time. She also noted that tech is only an enabler of the digital transformation. Technology won’t fix broken processes, programs or cultures.

“You can’t take processes and programs and just slap them into the cloud and think it’s going to work well,” McInnis-Day said. “Sure, it will have some improvement but it’s important to have a strategy about what employee experience you want your workforce to have and be deliberate about the role of HR, leadership and employees play during the transformation. Tech is an enabler, but you have a lot of work to do. You can iterate over time. Start it, move it and drive it.”

Danielle Westermann Kinghttp://
Danielle Westermann King is a former staff writer for HRE.