CIO upfront: Time to awaken the digital HR giant

Digital technologies are transforming entire businesses, not just IT departments. The potential repercussions for the workforce and the workplace in New Zealand are enormous, including within the human resources department.

While digital technologies are widely used in our country, they are far from being fully exploited. In recent years, HR processes have been streamlined through interconnected systems and the automation of paper-based processes, yet for many HR departments the digital giant is still slumbering. Now more than ever, HR teams must fully realise the benefits of employing an effective digital strategy to lower operating costs and help streamline and enrich HR business processes.

While HR professionals will always require a deft touch for managing people, they must increasingly achieve business goals by harnessing the potential of digital technology, including the cloud. Companies are no longer wedded to running their human capital management operations on-premise, made possible by the cloud. For HR to reach its full potential, it must become less centralised, more agile and more business-integrated.

The cloud has many advantages. It is low-cost, enables flexibility, can be run on mobile devices and is attractive to younger tech-savvy employees who like to use their mobile to manage expense claims or process annual leave requests.

Thanks to cost-effective and user-friendly software as a service (SaaS) applications enabled through the cloud, IT departments are no longer the sole repository of the skills required to manage HR computer systems and implement software changes.

Digital HCM solutions are far from dehumanising. Daniel Lund and Karl Simich, Accenture NZ

Most importantly, they provide HR with the integrated technology architecture to focus on human capital analytics, insight and prediction. This adds value in areas such as employee engagement and workforce planning. For example, employees and line managers can review and action work-related administrative tasks in the same flexible and convenient way they run their personal lives as digital consumers.

Cloud gives more power to users, making many tasks traditionally managed by HR redundant. Consequently, HR departments will be forced to refocus their activities around what only humans can do most effectively and efficiently.

As the scope and scale of the HR role grows, the function can evolve to become more marketing-oriented, using technology to customise talent practices and communications for specific groups or individuals.

This means that instead of managing day-to-day administration, HR departments can focus on human capital analytics, insight and prediction in order to add value in areas such as employee engagement and workforce planning.

Choosing the best cloud technology is important as it should provide data that can be trusted from a single source of truth. Empowered managers need actionable, real-time data to drive decision-making. In order to make smart and timely decisions, it’s important that organisations eliminate data silos so they can get to the relevant workforce and financial data that matters, and do it fast.

As a source of quantifiable value to organisations, HR and IT have truly come of age, and the digital possibilities for the workplace are worth exploring, and the benefits tangible.

For example, when global food giant Chiquita Brands implemented human capital management (HCM) software Workday, it reduced the number of HR workers from one in 145 employees, to one in 225 – partly through saving time on creating HR reports.

Digital HCM solutions are far from dehumanising. They are designed to be precisely the opposite; ensuring that work is tailored to individual strengths, flexible, portable and meaningful to employees.

Just six weeks after a hospitality company implemented Workday, 94 per cent of its 62,000 employees had logged on, allowing HR to quickly engage the workforce and communicate information.

As a source of quantifiable value to organisations, HR and IT have truly come of age, and the digital possibilities for the workplace must be explored. With the right technology, HR leaders in New Zealand can gain the flexibility and agility they need to service the demands of the future.

Daniel Lund

Daniel Lund is head of Cloud First and Karl Simich is Workday lead at Accenture New Zealand.

Karl Simich

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Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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