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Demystifying Transformation: What We Mean When We Talk About Digital Transformation

Cornerstone Editors

In HR, we talk about workplace transformation pretty regularly. But what does it actually mean? In this mini-series, we’ll give you some tips and tricks to help you understand each type of transformation—and how you can foster it across your organization.

In today’s fast-paced business world, efficient and adaptable technology has become a prerequisite for modern organizations. From recruiting to talent development, to the day-to-day of cultivating company culture, technology has simplified HR processes by taking on manual, mundane tasks and giving HR professionals more time to focus on strategic initiatives.

But joining the digital revolution requires more than adopting new digital systems for previously analog tasks. To bring your HR department into the information age, you’ll need to undergo digital transformation.

Digitization Versus Digital Transformation

Digitization, or shifting manual processes to automated ones, can streamline operations and allow employees to use their time for more complex tasks, opening up new possibilities for advances in every field. Digital transformation takes digitization a step further, going beyond the adoption of new technologies to inspire a shift in company culture. To accomplish this shift, HR professionals will have to become skeptics and question which elements of digitization will eliminate empty work hours and which will add unnecessary steps or overcomplicated processes.

Like any company-wide change, digital transformation won’t work without willing adoption from employees and leadership. Digital transformation isn’t a mandate. It’s a cooperative journey. Although you will see reluctance from all levels of your workforce, the easiest way to change any employee’s attitude toward technology is to offer it as a solution to problems instead of another hurdle.

How HR Is Going Digital in 2020

If your organization doesn't yet have a digital transformation plan in place, you’re already behind. Seventy percent of companies already have a digital transformation strategy in place—or are working on one.

Artificial intelligence, blockchain, machine learning and automation will change the landscape of HR technology, lifting it out of the Excel dark ages and into a data-driven world of smarter hiring, payroll, benefits, development, rewards and so much more.

When implemented correctly, technology has the potential to improve every facet of your company. As an HR professional, you’re on the front line of technological business solutions. Algorithms can help the right candidates find job opportunities at your company in the sea of seemingly endless offerings. Programs can take over other tasks, too, like sorting through resumes. But beware techniques that remove the human element from tasks that require a personal touch. This is where some healthy skepticism can be an asset. Sometimes simpler isn’t better. As an HR manager, you can decide what direction makes the most sense for you and your company.

Digital Transformation in Your HR Department

Within your department, digital transformation requires the same strategic steps as implementing any complex change. First, set out concrete, actionable goals for your digital transformation. These goals shouldn’t simply be centered around technology—they should also be tailored to your internal culture. For example, don’t choose to purchase a recruiting technology because you think you should. Instead, evaluate the challenges you’re facing as a department and consider what type of technology would help you solve those challenges. You want your HR employees to value the coming technological changes and be able to use them effectively. Otherwise, your staff may be averse to change or, worse, develop workarounds to circumvent new tech.

To stave off such problems, establish a team devoted to making digital transformation happen, and develop a detailed plan for rolling out new technology within your department. This team, which will ideally be composed of representatives from different teams and departments, will help you strategize while changes are underway, gain feedback from your staff and make adjustments until you meet your goals.

Your transformation team should also help you build the best "tech stack," or series of applications and programs that your department can use to improve work efficiency and the employee experience. You might not get it right the first time, so ask for feedback and know when to make changes.

As you continue in your digital transformation journey, remember to measure your results. Solicit the opinions of your staff and update them on all changes to your strategy. A positive HR department culture, especially in times of transformation, can influence the attitudes of employees in the rest of your company. As you transform, your workforce will follow suit.

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