Why the HR function must go digital

Anand Shankar, Senior Partner – Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa, Aon Hewitt

The digital imperative
The employee as a customer is spoilt for choice and he expects the same from HR. A more aware and connected generation is a majority in today's workforce. This workforce is used to a high quality digital experience while engaging with friends and family. They demand the same consumer grade experience while working in and engaging with their organisations.

Digitisation provides a seamless interface that brings the employer brand and promise alive across the employee lifecycle. Digital through its Social, Mobility, Analytics and Cloud (SMAC) approach is critical for the HR function today.

The effective use of digital platforms can also dramatically improve learning outcomes. Research shows that the use of gamification techniques enable employees to learn more about new management subject areas and the roles they aspire for. It allows them to collaborate online with their peers, get instant feedback and be recognised for their achievements — all the while increasing their visibility as potential leaders.

It's not just investing in technology
Most organisations look at digital as a mere adoption of expensive technology and platforms. Aon Hewitt research suggests that in relation to overall HR costs, Best Employers spend about 60 percent of what the average organisation does but achieve significantly higher people results. This balance of effectiveness and efficiency is achieved by rigorously planning for talent outcomes and driving agile linkages between programmes, technology, platforms and analytics.

Successful HR organisations today harness a digital mind-set on delivering talent outcomes that looks at three key anchors:


  1. Providing a consumer grade experience across the employee lifecycle facilitating on -demand access to information, greater collaboration, social learning and a direct linkage to ones aspirations.

  2. A move from integrated to unified talent management platforms based on one technology, one user experience and one data model with a focus on tracking progress of employees, rewarding them appropriately and giving them the tools they need to become successful.

  3. Adopting an Analytics lifestyle which goes beyond just measuring things and benchmarking them against past data, to having more predictive capabilities to not only deliver on business results but rather help co-create them.

In a nutshell, HR should be able to develop a clear vision for digitisation that takes a long-term holistic view of shifting capability needs, linkages across the talent value chain and the experience it promises. The vision should not only be clearly aligned with the overall business goals but should also be backed by a strong business case for technology investments. Failure to adopt 'digital HR' urgently puts organisations at risk of being left out in the race of attracting, retaining and engaging their employees for sustainable competitive advantage.

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