Here’s Why HR Is Critical For Digital Transformation Success
As digital transformation initiatives accelerate, it is a good time to think about who in your company is leading these efforts, and who gets a voice in those plans.
In a recent report, 86% of manufacturers have appointed digital transformation leaders—37% are from operations, and 30% from IT and the remaining span across engineering, finance and dedicated digital transformation teams. An important team that must be considered in relation to digital transformation efforts though, is HR and people operations.
Digital Transformations Are About People
Although digital transformation is heavily technology centered, it’s a mistake to only focus on roles and departments that are tech-intensive. Digital transformations are just as much about the people as they are about the technology.
“There’s a myth that digital transformation is more tech focused. In reality, it’s the people that make it happen,” said Christopher Lind, Head of Global Digital Learning at GE Healthcare. “If you’re viewing it through a single lens, digital transformation can look overly simplistic. But when the implications for all affected employees, business units, functions, and geographical groups are considered, it becomes exponentially more complicated.”
Digital transformations are about helping people make better decisions and take quicker actions. That’s why there needs to be multiple voices and stakeholders from different parts of the business involved. Without those varying perspectives, you risk mismanaging implementations as training employees need for new processes, behavior, and, sometimes, roles won’t be adequate.
HR Can Provide Valuable Perspectives
When building your digital transformation leadership team, HR and people operations should be considered as a crucial voice. These teams will help ensure your workforce is receiving the right training, and their professional development is aligned with the changes that are occurring throughout your organization.
But too often HR is overlooked when it comes to implementing digital transformation initiatives.
“People are at the core of what you do. Your ability to even access data for digital transformation is dependent on the people that you have,” Lind said. “Not considering the impact on your people and culture is one of the biggest reasons digital transformation fails so often.”
When people aren’t considered, digital transformations are often unsuccessful. The point of digital transformation is to optimize workforce utilization—the goal is to have people spend more time on the tasks that bring value to both the company and themselves, and less time on the non-value-added tasks. A narrow view that tech is the only answer without thinking of people leads to frustration and unsuccessful initiatives.
How Digital Transformation Shifts Culture
The manufacturing sector is moving so quickly that keeping up with change is a challenge. That includes, perhaps most importantly, training employees. Manufacturers need to have a workforce with the skills not just to implement digital transformations, but also to sustain it.
“One of the largest challenges is being able to identify what the workforce for the future looks like and how it is able to support digital transformation,” said Michael Connolly, Chief Learning Officer at Ashley Furniture. “You can have the greatest plans in the world and the greatest strategy set up for how you want to transform your organization, but if you don’t have a skilled workforce it’s unachievable.”
Digital transformations are just as much a cultural shift as technological, which means preparing your workforce. You need leaders who understand culture and will help pave the way for new ideas and ways of doing things, and set expectations for how workers’ lives and jobs will change.
Ultimately, value isn’t created unless your teams are taking a different and better action than before. Manufacturers and their employees must become accustomed to change, and the way to help develop that comfort is through culture.
Significance Of Change Management In Digital Transformation
The process of change management involves continuous improvement and a cultural shift. It should be supported by a “culture organization” that specifically helps with change management, especially during periods of intense change.
“People now realize that the only people and businesses that are really successful are the ones that are comfortable with change,” said Connolly. “There is a shift in the way that we do business. We can’t just look at what’s in front of us anymore because then we’re missing opportunities to be able to advance more quickly.”
Human resources has traditionally been seen as a supporting department, and heavy on the administration side. But modern HR teams are now more involved with workforce transformation, using analytics and predictive analysis to help create the right talent mix and help employees grow into their careers. Because it now has a bigger role and view, HR can guide the cultural shift manufacturers need for successful digital transformation.
“The most important thing you can do in digital transformation is to help people understand and support the why,” said Connolly. “If people don’t buy into a new process or a new technology, they’re not going to want to be a part of it.”
This article originally appeared on forbes.com To read the full article and see the images, click here.
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