HR and their role in digital transformation

May 8, 2017

HR is a very important function in any business. When I think of HR I think, development, recruitment, retention and other functions that keep a business together and ticking over. HR is the key business function in digital transformation, as they need to find great talent; these are the people that will take the business forward and build the business.

Talent can be found anywhere! Digital talent has great ideas; they are either very technical or very creative but they all have ideas and some of them will want the freedom to build upon that idea and will want to do so very quickly! So, I know from experience that having a great idea is one thing, but building a business, plan, getting access to funds, building a following or audience and accessing the right talent is another. It’s not as easy as it sounds, around 90% of start-ups fail … again something I know from experience. 

If the idea does fail, does that mean the entrepreneur is a failure? No, it doesn’t. When a product goes to market and it fails, the entrepreneur and team look at the learnings and will look to pivot the idea or simply re-invent it and go again. Most importantly by sharing all of their findings and ideas amongst networks and crowds that actually want to learn from each other they are instantly building a pool of talent that can instantly become smarter and will learn from the previous failure. 

If we look at the scope of a start-up compared to a large multi-national, there is a big difference in landscape. The start-up is busy promoting, motivating and acquiring specific digital talent and some multi-nationals cannot do the same simply due to the nature of the business. From my own experience of sitting down and speaking to entrepreneurs in this space they have a sense of creating and being innovative and not giving up, believing that they will build the next big thing. There have been times that I have seen the larger companies simply trying to keep up with this ever-changing digital scene. The great thing about digital talent is that they inspire with ideas and change in structure, even in the ways that they work and how they use new technology to create and innovate. So back to my original statement – HR have a very important role in digital transformation. 

Here are a few points HR should consider:

Talent – specifically digital talent –  they look for fun, freedom, creativity and something rewarding. They are most likely to be curious and want to explore; they don’t want to be pigeon holed.

Be wide
We are in the age of social influencers, networks etc. Provide something or somewhere they can connect, network, knowledge share and develop. I’ve been recruiting in this space for a long time and some of the very best talent don’t really want to sit at a desk, they want to be free, allow them to leverage project work on various online platforms and this will increase engagement and development. 

Recognise skills
Trainings in various areas such as analytics, display, SEO and similar channels all have a big role. The biggest gain here is sharing, collaborative behaviours and ideas for creating! When talent is motivated and has ideas they will turn them into actions which is a business gain.  Keep them engaged and motivated with consistent development.  

Everything should be seen as a lesson. Wins, losses, everything. It’s healthy to learn so that it doesn’t happen again. Introduce some kind of framework where this is encouraged and across teams. 

Pair digital talent with non-digital talent. They will get an idea of how they work. A non-digital talent will understand how various platforms, techniques and tools all connect. Most importantly it will bring your teams closer. 

Have them work with various teams across marketing and communications. Use their knowledge and insight to improve communication across the business!

Lead the way, become a HR leader that is digitally savvy! Become an advocate, use new ways to communicate and become a digital led business, this can all be set in stone from day one.