Digital transformation is not only disrupting established business models. It’s disrupting time-honored career paths as well.

Once, an ambitious professional could take a straightforward path to build experience and reputation in an area of business anywhere from the work-station to the corner office. Anything beyond that was already mapped out for them. However, traditional corporate silos and the career paths leading to the top of them are changing as emerging technologies become crucial to every aspect of doing business.

We live in a digital world where continuously advancing technology has been influencing the day-to-day lives of humans. Digital technology has influenced various fields globally including, but not limited to: education, economy, politics, and business.

With digital technologies like mobility, social networks, automation, big data and cloud computing now deeply implanted into every aspect of our professional and personal lives, today’s HR Mentors/CHROs/HR leaders need to possess a completely new set of understanding on business and HR to sustain the transition, and succeed in this digital era.

Another interesting trend is that in the last two years, a rough estimate indicated that about 300 CHROs have moved from one company to another, or have taken up a self-employed status for various reasons. Change is the new normal.

During our discussions with several CEOs of large organizations, it was found that in CEOs perceptions, especially in the HR domain, that there is no great difference in terms of skill sets needed for execution of HR activities in the organizations between Number One and Number Two.

To understand the implications of this change, we did a survey with our known people through attending various HR conferences in India and overseas, alongside having detailed discussions, analyses, and assessments with HR professionals and practitioners. We asked senior and middle-level HR managers of many large and medium-size organizations in private sectors one question: How do they spend their 8 hours every day in the office?

As a result, it was expected that in-house HR function are broadly getting divided into two parts:

1. OPERATIONAL: Tech HR, which is technology-led HR processes to achieve high productivity and efficiency. 95 – 100% of the HR processes are technology led today. In fact, the entire HR experience is technology-led from Recruitment & Selection, Onboarding, Performance Management, Induction Training, Compensation etc.

2.STRATEGIC: Governance (Organizational and Policies), and Compliances (labors laws, Industrial and employees relations). Organization design, structuring, designing and revising people policies, Compliances, employee relations and industrial relations and HR Audits. These are primarily strategic and technical HR functions designed to achieve effectiveness.

Learning & Development is increasingly becoming a coordination function, delivered through internal and external HR mentors with hands-on expertise. Some training modules are also available in-house and on online portals. Small bytes of learning can be accessed through video or skill-sharing sites. Face-to-face training designed to build up confidence, experience sharing, interactions, on how to work with the group, and the art of getting things done through team members will continue to be imparted through classroom, or off-site formats to bring in hands-on experience to participants.

Many of us are realizing that the past is no longer an indicator of future certainties. This makes career planning, and career development somewhat of a challenge.

We feel that the demand for HR professionals with expertise in these above two functions will increase. Especially for Number 2, as this constitutes rare experience and therefore, the importance of the HR function will increase tremendously.

HR will increasingly apply design thinking concepts for studying working activities and work-lives of the employees, to develop interactions, systems, and tools to make their employees’ work and lives better.

Therefore, the capability, capacity, and commitment of HR professionals will be put on trial in years to come. This profession will be in great demand and will be under great stress to deliver results in supporting the operations of organizations, with the ultimate goal of staying commercially viable in the marketplace.

It is foreseen that employment in the service sector will grow through direct and indirect, third-party roles. These third-party roles have already touched many millions in India. In a nutshell, to stay relevant, it is found that organizations who wish to increase the value of personal experience will have to constantly upgrade themselves in keeping to the context, content, and technology that is churned out before them.

Rakesh Seth: Chief HR Mentor, Corporate Trainer, Author, Writer, Speaker, Visiting Professor.

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