READ the June 2021 issue of our magazine: The Digital Culture Reset
The world we live in has undergone a work revolution the likes of which have never quite happened before. What’s more, this revolution took place more rapidly than just about anyone thought it could or would. The many changes and innovative array of effective new business contingencies that emerged during the global pandemic in 2020 were only possible because of recent technology trends like Internet connectivity, the cloud, and mobile devices.
According to recent research by Gartner, talent management tops CEOs’ list of the top four organizational competencies needed to excel at strategy delivery. The next three competencies are “tech-oriented” and far outside the comfort zone of most Chief HR officers (CHROs). But they are central to the CIO’s domain. So who on the leadership team does the CEO turn to for guidance — the CIO or the CHRO? The answer is both.
The need for CIO & CHRO partnership
Digital disruption can be an intimidating term, and, perhaps more challenging, it is often topic leaders know they should be thinking about, but aren’t sure where to start. The “wait and see” attitude is a mindset that needs to be left in the past, or organizations risk being left behind. Digital transformation is the clear mandate for organizations to sustain their growth.
In one of the panel sessions during People Matters TechHR SG 2021, Patricia Liu, Chief of Staff at Razer Inc shared, Over the last 12-18 months we have been inundated with all sorts of technology we could tag, and hence we need the right synergy and relationship between CHROs and CIOs to sail through the unchartered territory of technologies. And what I found most helpful, while I was wearing both hats of that of a CHRO & CIO, was following the following principles to really be able to separate the wheat from the chaff:
- Digital Mindset
- Utility of the technology
In order for digital transformation to happen, the close partnership between CIO & CHRO is really important in order to really sift out the wheat from the chaff and to be able to really focus on the right technology, processes, and resources.- Patricia Liu, Chief of Staff at Razer Inc
It also works the other way around. Having HR present can help IT define its future skill set requirements, talent gaps, and overall personnel strategies. If there is a constant dialogue between the two functions, IT can have will have a much better understanding of the technology, overall goals, and objectives.
Michelle Wu Chief Information Officer & Executive Director for at Ingram Micro shares, “At Ingram Micro, we have been partnering with HR and closely follow HR models to validate our talent decisions. We work closely with HR to set competency and skills metrics, to assess where and how can we find the right talent, what measures we can take to develop the early talent pipeline, and to more critical processes of diversity like attracting and retaining women talent.”
Paul Cobban Chief Transformation Officer at DBS Bank also acknowledges HR plays a significant role in unleashing curiosity, and bringing the mindset change among people, and building it as a company culture that motivates people and satiates their need to do transformational work.
We have people reaching out to know the secret sauce or magic behind this success and they constantly ask us to “can you show us your technology architecture?” If you ask me that’s a wrong question to ask, and it is not that we don’t show them our technology. We are open and welcome everyone to look at the technology architecture. However, according to us the right question for them to ask should be, “how did you get your developers motivated to get over the firm’s legacy system and offer them a creative confidence to re-architect the thousands of applications again?” And the answer to that question is, of course, the collaboration between HR and IT.”- Paul Cobban Chief Transformation Officer at DBS Bank
How the synergy can fast-pace the transformation?
Revisit talent: As investment in technology magnifies, the IT team will require the right talent to manage and lead these new technologies. Although these technologies can dramatically boost the productivity, it requires specialized and sometimes hard-to-find technical Talent— AI & ML specialists, full-stack developers, data engineers & scientists, cloud-security engineers, etc.
Such talent can be hired externally or upskilled from within. Organizations need to make sure that their current HR policies and approaches don’t limp their digital journey. The basis of performance management and promotion, for example, should be expertise rather than the number of direct reports someone oversees.
Supporting remote teams: Another common theme emerging is the widely held desire to build on the flexibility and diversity brought through remote working. Learning how to maintain productivity—even as we return to office buildings after the lockdown ends, and even as companies continue to automate activities—will be critical to capturing the most value from this real-world experiment that is occurring. These investments won’t be undone postcrisis, and those that have done so will find themselves in an advantaged cost structure during the recovery. Again, to lead this proactively and effectively requires a great deal of collaboration between HR & IT to not only make the transition to remote/hybrid working efficiently through these technologies but all manage talent experience using the right set of HR processes and programs.
The adaptive workforce: A key roadblock preventing organizations from effectively engaging the rest of the business on new digital initiatives could be the lack of digital culture in the organization. Implementing new technologies involves behavioral changes and mindset shifts, particularly for technologies that require the workforce to connect, collaborate and learn in new ways. The need to quickly shift to telecommuting during the COVID-19 pandemic proves that such a change demands as much from IT enablement as it does from a people management perspective.
With the rapid shift to online business models, organizations will also need a workforce that is not only adaptive but also innovative, in initiating new digital initiatives from the ground up. Such a digital-first culture will help businesses to accelerate their transition from offline to online channels, from physical to virtual events, from iterations of existing products to conceptualizing new online services and products.
Building a truly digital workplace means looking at every layer of the enterprise through an employee lens: enabling collaboration at all levels within the organization, treating your workforce as your best customers, and identifying the experiences that matter most to them.
When IT and HR come together to provide their people with great digital experiences, organizations can experience increased engagement, higher productivity, and greater business continuity. They’re also creating the necessary tools to unleash innovation and agility.
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