Top 06 HR Digital Transformation Trends In 2020


Evolution is a way of nature. In the process of evolution, technology has proven to be a great tool that has been constantly invented, imbibed and improvised by individuals and organizations alike. HR Technology, over the years, has come a long way. From ‘registering of Attendance’ & Learning and Development, technology today of the most potent lever of personal, organizational and cultural transformation for enterprises. Therefore, as the paradigm of HR technology is evolving to the next paradigm of experience-based transformation.

“The modern age is the age of experience and workplace applications are no exception. HR applications, that earned a bad reputation of being poor of ergonomics, have seen very low adoption”

According to Gartner, almost 65% of digital transformations fail. HR Tech is moving to the next level of experience effectiveness by embracing 6 new paradigms. HR Leaders, who fail to understand and embrace these 6 next paradigms in HR applications, will lose strategic talent advantage that their businesses need desperately in the next phase of transformation.

The following 6 paradigms present the foundation of the ‘next’ of HR transformation and will be mission-critical for successful employee experience creation.

1: Experience First Design

While HR digitization has always been triggered by the need for effective enablement, the experience economy is all about delivering an exceptional experience. People like to engage with those brands which give them good experience every time, in the same way, they expect good experience from their employers. Like any app, Modern HR applications must also be able to provide:

  1. Seamless mobility – across devices and OS
  2. Full functionality – across devices & locations
  3. Hyper-personalization – right upto organization, department and individual level

It takes years of research and huge investments in developing fresh platforms to be able to deliver such experience. Redundant technologies like ‘native apps’, batch processing of data, specific point solutions, etc. kill the experience and result in the disengaged workforce. Ironically, the majority of HR Tech buyers don’t understand the deep nuances of these developments and that needs to change. CHROs need not become CIOs, but they need to know which technology will help them to deliver the best experience to their workforce. Incidentally, according to Forrester Research, businesses that invested in ‘experiences’ generated 4% higher revenues.

2: Insights From Analytics

Most HR teams face a challenge with data and analytics. Many HR leaders have lost their credibility because of these data anomalies. Modern businesses don’t expect HR to provide data or its analysis. They seek actionable insights that can help them solve emerging business problems.

In order to provide such insights, HR leaders need to lean on a new age, intelligent HR applications on the cloud. Such applications proactively search the data for emerging trends and patterns, assess the implications and use the power of AI & ML to bring actionable insights. This is the real strategic talent advantage that businesses need.

3: Proactive Value Addition

As I mentioned earlier, employees have similar expectations from their employers as they have from any brand they engage with. Employees as customers live in a notification driven life. An employee today expects HR to provide answers to their queries instantaneously. Moving from on-demand service delivery to proactive employee delight, it will need artfully create consumer-grade HR applications that will work on the principles of digital marketing. 

4: Embedded Works, Integrated Sucks

Gone are the days when HR would patch up multiple systems and term them as integrated. Modern-day employee experience and organizational enablement are possible by using a strong foundation that has the best of technologies ‘embedded’ and NOT integrated- Chatbots, Business Intelligence, Performance Management, Employee Surveys, etc.  So, in order to enable the HR to be ready for today & tomorrow, you need to ask your tech partners – is the HR solutions integrated or embedded with the new emerging technologies.

5: Adaptive Intelligence Over Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence does not possess the nuances of human nature. It cannot differentiate between cultures, backgrounds, and sensitivities.  Each organization is unique from a cultural perspective. Carpet bombing an organization with artificial intelligence cannot deliver the unique cultural flavor to the employees. The right HR technology must use adaptive intelligence to ensure that the systems, processes, languages, and experiences are all tailored for the organization– proactively.  (Adaptive intelligence applications are a new category of continuously adapting, self-learning applications powered by enterprise data from transactional business apps, such as customer experience, enterprise resource planning, supply chain management, and human resources.)

6: Death Of UI

The user interface has been used as a synonym for employee experience. Most Digital HR initiatives have become glorified UI upgrades. Today smart living revolves around devices and applications that run on natural language processing – be it Siri, Google or Alexa. Why should my HR system not be able to apply for leave when I simply ask for doing it? Any HR application which is not augmented with natural language processing will be rendered redundant from day one itself. Therefore, your digital HR platform needs to be innately designed to work with natural language processing.

What happened in banking, retail trade or even transportation a few years ago is now invading HR as a function. The DNA of HR is being re-written with technology. While many organizations are embarking on an HR Digital Transformation journey, a majority (74% per Gartner) of them are likely to fail. They will fail because of a lack of appreciation and adaptation to the above mentioned ‘Tech-tonic’ shifts. Primitive HR will cease to exist in this “Tech-tonic” shift.

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Shaakun Khanna is leading Executive Coach & Human Capital Management expert in Asia and serves as Head of HCM Applications Strategy & Transformation, Asia Pacific at Oracle Corporation. Prior to joining Oracle Shaakun has was the CEO of Right Management, India & Middle East. He is also the co-founder of Consentus Advisory – a specialty HR consulting firm. Over the last decade, he has been a consultant to many Fortune 500 Organizations on areas of Talent Management, Organization Design & Transformation, Employee Engagement, Leadership Development, and Succession Planning. Shaakun also carries rich experience of managing businesses for global organizations like Gallup Inc., IBM Smarter Workforce, Tata Group, Manpower, etc. in various leadership roles.


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