HR Tech 2019: Averbook: ‘IT doesn’t own digital strategy. HR does’

It’s time for employers to stop doing digital transitions and start thinking digital transformation. And HR needs to lead it.

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That’s the message from Jason Averbook, industry analyst and CEO and cofounder of LeapGen, who says that a true digital transformation is more than simply buying an abundance of new HR technologies.

“We can keep buying all the stuff … but it has to be tied into a vision,” he said Thursday at the HR Technology Conference & Exposition in Las Vegas.

Related: HR Tech 2019: 10 innovations for a more inclusive world

A digital strategy, he said, is about delivering the right things to the right people through the right channels. It’s about engaging employees to deliver a better experience.

“What’s so important to think about is that ‘digital’ is not [just] technology,” he told a crowd of HR professionals. “Technology is only one component of digital strategy. IT doesn’t own your digital strategy. Who owns it? You, the HR department. Only you know what you’re trying to achieve for your people.”

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A good place for HR professionals to start is to create a “vision map” for their digital plan so they know exactly what their goals are, what their guiding principles are and how they will measure success.

“If you don’t have a vision map, you should really have one and you should give it to your vendors,” said Averbook, who also is a columnist for Human Resource Executive. “If you share it with them, guess what they can do? Help you.”

HRE at HR TECH: Follow along for full conference coverage here.

Averbook’s comments dovetail with others made this week at HR Tech. Stacey Harris, vice president of research and analytics at Sierra-Cedar, told HRE this week that the next transformation in HR technology is ensuring that employers are continually evaluating and changing their technology to get the most out of it.

“It’s what you do inside your company that matters, not the technology,” Harris said. “[It’s about] always trying to figure out how to get more people to use it, tracking who’s using it, measuring the outcomes they’re achieving. If you’re not reviewing things every 12 to 18 months … it’s of no value to you.”

Also see: Sierra-Cedar report: What should happen after HR tech buy-in

Averbook said HR professionals need to nurture their technologies to create a true digital strategy,

“A lot of us are used to putting in pieces of technology and letting them sit,” Averbook said. “You have to treat investments in tech more like a pet than a rock. You need to look at it every day and measure its success.

“Technology doesn’t change organizations. We do,” he said. “Technology can help fuel it.”

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Kathryn Mayer
Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s former benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver.