HR Tech Number of the Day: HR’s role in digital transformation

A new survey finds HR should be central to any digital transformation, though many HR leaders need guidance.
By: | April 20, 2021 • 2 min read

30%: Percentage of HR and L&D executives who aren’t sure where to start, or where to go next, in terms of digital transformation

Digital transformation is widely regarded as an imperative for today’s businesses, made even more pivotal by the pandemic. However, many business leaders aren’t prepared to take the next steps in their transformation.

A new survey from Headspring—an executive development venture from Financial Times and IE Business School—found that almost one-third (30%) of the 350 senior HR and learning and development leaders surveyed aren’t sure where to start, or where to go next, to further their companies’ digital transformations.

Advertisement

Despite lacking some direction in their digital transformation, survey participants widely acknowledged its importance: Nearly 90% said digital transformation is a business priority in the next two years. Many companies have already made good progress; nearly three-quarters of those surveyed identified their organization as digitally native or advanced.

Read HRE’s full HR technology coverage HERE.

What it means to HR leaders

The report identified a number of challenges to digital transformation, according to the HR and L&D leaders. For instance, more than one-third of respondents said the No. 1 obstacle to change was resistance by staff members. They saw proactive change efforts—including internal communications and engagement to reduce resistance—as even more important than skills-building programs.

On that front, more than one-third of respondents said their business leaders need to improve their technical aptitude, although they placed even more weight on the development of soft skills, particularly collaboration, flexibility and adaptability.

Advertisement

The report highlighted three realities that organizations looking to advance their digital transformation should consider:

  • The optimization of internal processes was identified by the vast majority of respondents as the most significant benefit of digital transformation.
  • Digital transformation needs to be happening across the entire organization—and HR’s work touches all facets of the company, so the HR unit needs to be the most prepared for transformation. However, one-third of respondents said they lack resources in this area.
  • A digital transformation plan that doesn’t focus on people and skills issues is primed for problems.

“Digital transformation is forcing organizations to not only undergo technology replacement but also to consider a fundamental redesign of their processes and decision-making approaches,” researchers wrote. “Our research clearly highlights that those organizations with most successes in digital transformation pay careful attention to the role of HR in accelerating change—not just as recipients of digital technology improvements, but as digitally empowered teams with significant influence in the organization’s digital future.”

Click here to register for the free, virtual Health & Benefits Leadership Conference, May 11-13.

Jen Colletta is managing editor at HRE. She earned bachelor's and master's degrees in writing from La Salle University in Philadelphia and spent 10 years as a newspaper reporter and editor before joining HRE. She can be reached at hreletters@lrp.com.

More from HRE