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Digital transformation is more of a cultural transformation enabled by technology

By: Shweta Modgil, in peoplemattersglobal.com

In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Rowan Tonkin, Sr. Director, HCM Transformation, Oracle, who spoke at Oracle OpenWorld Asia, sheds light on the evolving role of HCM in shaping the world of work for tomorrow.

Organizations today are furiously continuing to digitalize themselves as emerging technologies change the way we work. Business models are changing, job roles are changing, strategies are changing as organizations drive to create new work opportunities and build new models. Amidst this change, what are some of the key factors that an organization needs to keep in mind when deciding on its digital transformation agenda? How can organizations implement cutting edge HCM technologies and capitalize on moving to the cloud? 

These are some of the questions which Oracle OpenWorld Asia held at Singapore from 26-27 March 2019 aimed to answer through a bevy of innovators, disruptors, and thought leaders at the conference

In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Rowan Tonkin, Sr. Director, HCM Transformation, Oracle, who moderated a session on Digital Transformation at OOW Asia demystifies some of these questions.

What are the key factors organizations need to keep in mind in when deciding on a digital transformation agenda?

The key factor to focus on is the cultural and talent impacts of digital transformation, specifically around employee experience, adoption and changes to how work is allocated, managed and delivered. Secondly, change capacity for both the business and the HR function is critical to avoid overload, duplication, fatigue, and conflict. 

Often digital transformation is seen as a technology project; however, I believe that it is more a cultural transformation enabled by technology.

As such, having a cultural transformation plan or roadmap, rather than a project plan is a key factor for businesses looking to transition its people to a more digital operating model.

Also, the opportunity to unlock productivity from your most talented resources and leadership is a factor many seek to achieve. Whilst digital transformation is often perceived to focus on removing jobs, the reality is that new roles are created and many roles will be augmented with administrative, analytics or routine activities digitalized or removed. One can only imagine the time released back to the business to focus on customers, innovation, leadership as well as the financial benefits of such programmes.

How has the role of HCM evolved over the past few years?

As the human contribution to organizational performance is becoming more significant in many industries, HCM is adopting a more business consulting contribution, providing strategic insights and delivering business innovation, performance, and strategic talent management.

Whilst the core HCM services are still essential, the business is extracting more value from its HCM capability to enable more responsive operating models, flexible workforce models, innovative and agile structures to respond to the industry transformation that technology and competition are driving.

Having been an HR Executive for the past 15 years, I can see how technology is enabling HCM to reduce the capacity drain HR administration has had on the function as new HCM technologies automate this activity.  Whilst this can challenge the identity of the HCM function, it provides the real opportunity for HCM professionals to focus on making a real strategic difference in the business, rather than managing the personnel administration.

What are some of the advantages for organizations to move their HCM to the cloud?

Having implemented Cloud HCM into complex businesses, it would be easy to identify the quantitative benefits such as reduced HR costs, improved time to hire, HR analytics and insights, reduced HCM admin time for managers etc. However, the most profound change is that HR takes strategic ownership of HR technology and aligns this to the HR strategic plan and leverages innovation when it becomes available, not when IT can prioritize it.

In many cases, the Payroll system has been stretched or customized in an attempt to support the growing maturity of HCM activity in the business. Implementing a Cloud HCM solution simply provides a single application to support the entire employee lifecycle, so that your HCM processes are simplified and integrated rather than manually integrate and manage multiple applications. 

What are some of the factors that will dictate successful change management while moving HCM to the cloud?

The organizations I have seen implement HCM Cloud capability more successfully had three common factors-

• They engaged employees and managers in the design, build, test and deployment, creating a huge team of advocates and champions

• Recognizing that cloud is a partnership and worked closely with Oracle to identify, configure and adopt the best fit solution for their business. Oracle is a proactive partner, focused on customer success and can provide significant support, expertise, and resources to ensure a successful transformation. Successful change management utilizes the available resources effectively to improve the success of their implementations.

• Adopting an ‘HCM Roadmap’ rather than a Project approach. Progressively deploying cloud by HCM service, location, business unit and delivering benefits back to the business earlier gave stakeholders confidence of delivery, business value and therefore ensured continued investment.

What are some of the major challenges you foresee that organizations might face in their HCM transformation journeys?

Inertia or acceptance that the current HRIS technology or HR delivery model is sufficient is a major challenge. Having an HR digital transformation programme ensures that your business continues to develop and be responsive to industry and workforce changes which reduces business performance risk. The most significant challenge is often not identifying this need and not developing an HCM transformation roadmap creating a growing gap and business risk.

Developing a HCM digitalization business case is a challenge for some HCM teams, especially those that have not received investment or executive support for some time. 

Pulling in together a transformation team, with IT, Finance, Communication and of course HR capability is a great way to collaboratively build a business case. Utilizing the extensive resources, success stories, business case capability of Oracle (and Oracle Partners) can also help with this challenge.  Finally, more organizations are looking at both their HCM and Finance (ERP) infrastructure and developing collaborative business cases to align these two critical business functions and significantly transform the way their business is managed.

Author: Shweta is working as a Features Writer with People Matters. You can reach out to her at shweta.modgil@peoplematters.in.

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