HR digital transformation: a golden opportunity for CIOs
Let’s face it. HR leaders haven’t always worked that closely with chief information officers (CIOs). In most companies the two have inhabited different worlds. (If you’re feeling mean, you could call them silos.) But that’s beginning to change as HR embraces digital change.
Savvy HR leaders are keen to take advantage of the integrated cloud-based systems that have come on stream in recent years. They recognise that the tools making up these systems could help them transform HR by streamlining operations, reducing costs and redefining the whole experience of work for employees.
But HR leaders also know that they can’t complete this digital journey on their own. And that gives CIOs a once in a lifetime opportunity. As Deloitte put it in a recent article1: “CIOs who work with HR leaders to advance their transformation goals have the opportunity to influence a CEO-level strategic initiative, reduce cost and support burdens on IT, and transform staffing models.”
Helping HR stay on top of digital innovations
As strategic partners, CIOs can help their HR counterparts keep up-to-date with the latest innovations in HR technologies. These are increasingly designed to mirror the experiences that employees have when they use consumer technologies in their own time. So instead of using separate systems to update their personal details or access learning materials, for instance, employees can now carry out these tasks on mobile devices while they’re on the go.
But the role of CIOs in the digital transformation of HR isn’t just about recommending new technologies. According to Deloitte principles Michael Stephan and Erica Volini, CIOs can also advise HR leaders on how to make best use of existing solutions as business and employee requirements change. They have a further critically important role in helping HR avoid data management and integration problems.
IT’s own transformation
But to become real partners in the digital transformation of HR, CIOs themselves have to work in new ways. Technology research firm Gartner recommends that CIO should take the following three steps2:
Extend IT planning horizons
“Most CIO planning is still based on a two-year horizon. Extending this will help IT leaders make better investment decisions and capitalise on emerging technology, as well as human capital and consumer trends”, says Gartner VP Matt Cain.
Invest in “post-nexus” technologies
Many CIOs are already investigating or even using augmented human technology, thinking machines, and robotics. But what will really separate leading edge companies from the also-rans is how they go about adopting these technologies. “This area must be handled with sensitivity, so that employees view technology as an asset – one that will help their development and ultimately make them more valuable to the company,” says Matt Cain. “An IT, HR and business leader partnership is required to ensure implementation is holistic, effective and sensitive to employee concerns.”
Focus metrics on employee engagement
CIO performance is mostly judged on IT costs and service levels. Both metrics are leftovers from an earlier era. Using new metrics based on IT’s non-financial value and contribution to innovation will help companies focus on employee engagement. “Working with HR, the IT group can help encourage this by offering a more consumer like work environment, enabling higher levels of collaboration, recognition, wellness and transparency,” the Gartner article explains.
Reaping the rewards
None of this is easy. “But CIOs who seize the chance to play a real part in the digital transformation HR will reap rich rewards,” says …of ADP. “They will be seen as strategic business partners who have earned a seat in the C-suite.”
1. “Digital HR” a Win for IT – CIO Journal – WSJ