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The Human Factor in the Digital Revolution
By Rebecca Grover, Head Of Innovation, APAC, Korn Ferry Futurestep
The digital revolution is a reality and CHRO’s are encouraged to adopt a new way of thinking to support their organizations—not only is it about understanding advancements in technology, it’s also about appreciating the impact on people.
Technology is reshaping an organizations future but it is people who will either boost or limit an organization’s impact. People are inventors— champions—and customers. There is no value created from technology unless people embrace it.
When people are ‘in sync’ with technology it creates extreme value for an organization. Whether the technology improves customer experience by increasing choice offers better pricing due to realized productivity gains or helps in increasing employee performance through automation. Organizational leaders need to think about which technology is right for their organization and more specifically, CHROs will need to understand how to prepare people to connect with technological advances.
For digital transformational sustainability, I always advocate five key things:
Define and create discipline around the change; be clear around expectations and what the transformation will mean to the organization and people— what benefit is the change ultimately driving? Is your organization organized to drive the most value? Are you agile enough to provide the right level of support to your people?
Clearly understand and articulate the change; who will it impact and what will it mean? How can you structure your organization to create better connectivity to the change?
Assess the level of risk; change management, training, and support if needed for all people and functional areas.
Evaluate your organizational design; does your operating model enable your digital vision? Are your people clear on what you need them to achieve?
Spend time on the change & transition approach and the respective ‘sanity’ checks; enabling enough times to test the hypothesis and remember to conduct ‘sanity checks’ with your people!
The Links Between Technological Enablement, People And Organizational Performance Can’t Be Underestimated And Its Impact Touches Every Organizational Functional Area
Another consideration is speed of adoption. Established companies often hesitate to invest in new, unproven tech, while start-ups with a ‘fail fast, fail better’ attitude deploy it to disrupt the status quo. Yet businesses that harness technology’s power stand to win big. For CEOs & CHROs the trick is to partner technological advancements with both their customer or client value proposition and their organizational core competencies. With this approach technology works for, not against, those directly impacted— whether it boosts performance, releases greater value, or creates more customer choice.
If I look at my industry, the Talent & Human Capital space, the digital revolution is driving three key connectivity trends; just in time, predictive, and personal. For example, technological advancements are increasingly impacting HR and recruitment decision making; personalized ‘just in time’ delivery of relevant data, and related content is enabling more accurate, faster decision-making that helps organizations increase agility and productivity. ‘Predictive’ analytics also helps by eliminating the risk of making a bad decision—the links between technological enablement, people and organizational performance can’t be underestimated and its impact touches every organizational functional area.
But to serve organizations better, technology needs human help. Machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are essentially sophisticated algorithms that ‘learn’ by analyzing data about people and their actions. Networked devices can ‘learn’ from each other by sharing information in the Cloud, meaning machine learning can be replicated at scale. But none of this can occur without people and their cooperation. People and technology need each other. It is only through their partnership and collaboration that the full potential of both can be realized. The challenge for business leaders & CHROs is to identify the right technology to serve their customers best, and then connect it with their people.
Freed from mundane tasks, people can and will be more efficient and innovate faster, ultimately creating greater value for their organizations. But there is a darker side that CEOs and CHROs need to be prepared for and many people could be shut out. As more work is automated and fewer clerical or manual positions remain, people in these roles will be jobless unless they can adapt and learn something that a machine can’t.
This is the paradox that lies in the future of work. Technology can either enable or disable the global workforce. It will allow some people to work smarter so they can do more for their organizations and it will disempower others and take their jobs away.
Some believe that digital revolution renders people obsolete and the algorithm all-powerful but it is a paradigm shift and CEOs and CHROs who engage with the hard questions now, embrace the new reality, thus, preparing and enabling their people to see superior performance that will ultimately realize greater value.
Korn Ferry Futurestep is the global recruitment solutions division of Korn Ferry (NYSE: KFY). The company and its subsidiaries are engaged in the provision of talent management solutions, including executive search on a retained basis, recruitment for non-executive professionals, recruitment process outsourcing, and leadership and talent consulting services.