A digital revolution is currently taking place that is transforming the world we live in. Over the next few years, many organizations will need to go through radical change programs and in some cases, completely reinvent themselves to remain relevant and competitive. But how do we really do that? What is the starting point, and what do we expect at the end of the transformation?
In this interview with Jimmy E. (Jay) Porter, Vice President, Digital Connections & People Services - Global People, we will imbibe on a journey to know how digital wave is fueling people transformation at Walmart.
Q1. What is Walmart’s perception of digitization and what it means for your industry?
At Walmart, we like to say we are people-led and tech empowered. This means that we are empowering our people with the tools and technology they need to provide our customers with a seamless shopping experience, no matter how they want to shop. Our strategy is to make every day easier for busy families. In order to do that, we have been consistently creating more digital and personalized experiences for our customers. We’re also transforming experiences for our associates inside the company to become more digital in every aspect of how we work and operate.
We’re a lot more focused on user experience (simplified, seamless, accessible) and speed of delivery so associates can get what they need, when they need it.
Q2. What is your strategy for digital? How is Walmart’s digital strategy impacting the three dimensions of your organization- Business, Customers, and Employees?
It’s simple, all of our business imperatives are connected to our mission – ‘Save money. Live better. When we can help people save money and time, they have more time and resources to focus on the things that matter…and they live better. For us, serving our customers and empowering our people to thrive in their jobs is vital – and digital is a central part of it.
We are focused on providing our customers with an omnichannel experience – that is the combination of stores and online. Our strategy is to enable digital transformation seamlessly throughout - in bricks (stores) clicks (online) and our associates (people) collectively.
Q3. What are some of the significant digital initiatives the company has taken to drive the digital people agenda?
At our core, we are totally driven by delivering value to our customers. We are extremely excited about making that happen through the smallest of gestures, and it is our associates who make this happen on a daily basis!
Internally, we focused on enabling associates through digital interaction wherever possible. One example is one of our sites on our internal digital platform for associates. It’s called ‘ME – It’s all about you’ which is a one stop shop for associate queries. They can use it on their mobile, and this site entails everything ranging from - your role at Walmart, your compensation, your learnings, and much more. The idea to do this came from the simple notion that what we provide our associates should also be of the same caliber as what we provide our customers.
We recently launched this product in the U.S.; currently working with Mexico and Canada. From there, we will offer it to all our markets for their potential use.
For us, digital empowerment also means how successful we are in measuring and evaluating any of our initiatives, in terms of effectiveness. So we are continually reviewing content to ensure we keep it relevant to our associates.
Q5. A key challenge in driving digital transformation is culture. How do you define a digital culture and how is HR in Walmart driving this digital culture?
For us at Walmart, culture is informed by our values and an ability to represent ourselves in the best way. Creating a digital culture is newer, but innovation has always been part of our DNA at Walmart. We often say that one of the constants at Walmart is change.
The role of HR as a driving force in people transformation at Walmart is vital. For us, it’s important to cultivate a culture of constant learning and a growth mindset. We incorporate diverse forms of learning to ensure that we are delivering a valuable experience for our associates. For example, through virtual-reality training tools, an associate can experience a simulated store event like Black Friday to practice preparing for those busy times.
Q6. How are you preparing your workforce and organization to be digitally-fit?
More than being digitally fit, for us it’s more about the opportunity and tools we offer our associates. By providing platforms for accessing resources which will benefit them in acquiring new skills, improving our education and training courses – we have a spectrum of programs for everyone at Walmart. One example is the ‘Walmart Academies’ that we have in the U.S. and the U.K. They are training academies that help our associates better serve customers and learn skills to help them grow in their careers. Another example is our Live Better U program in the U.S. Walmart associates can access affordable, high-quality associates and bachelor’s degrees in business, supply chain management, health and wellness and technology at various universities. Under the program, Walmart subsidizes the cost of higher education, beyond financial aid and an associate contribution equivalent to $1 a day.
At Walmart, we focus a lot on empowerment through available technology for associates. We are truly a people-led, tech-empowered organization as we believe that our humanity will always set us apart.