Improving Agility of Human Resources through Digital Transformation


“Antevasin” in Sanskrit means, someone who lives at the border, with one foot firmly rooted in the past, and the other searching for where to go to next.  The dichotomy of today’s situation is that the future is already here. Today, we are into the world of AI, IoT, robotics and Machine learning. The rules of the game are changing faster than expected. Automation seems to be making its way into our workplaces at an unprecedented speed. Technology is transforming the ways in which we interact.

“Jobs, we know today, will dramatically change. How we work and the skills we need will be very different. We are solving something that is changing its ways that we don’t really understand. Digital disruption has affected all industries and organizational functions, and Human resources is no exception.”

In this rapidly changing business environment, if we observe some of the fortune 500 companies which were the “talk of the town” till about a few years back have disappeared from the list today. A common-sense question teases the mind, “Why a company doing so well, disappeared?”. Unfortunately, despite what many futurists say about the certainty of trends and evolution of technology, none of them are coming true. We are just taking our potshots on future trends. The only way to really improve decision-making is to embrace uncertainty and deal with the underlying complexity of the world.

However, embracing change can be a challenge in the absence of a digital mindset. Organizations should understand that there is a difference between Digital mindset and Digital culture. While the digital mindset is individual, the culture is for the complete organization. People have a digital mindset in an individual capacity but might not be in the digitally adaptable culture. 73 % of CEOs in India agree that the growth of the organization relies on the company’s ability to challenge and disrupt existing business models. We can improve the ability towards digital transformation mindset in the organization by being agile. It is no brainer that future is all going to be digital

Agility is the game changer and is the new currency, we all are talking about

The key is to know where one wants to go, and how. Every transformation, be it physical or digital, involve people. And hence carrying people along is the key to success. If the adoption of technology is for cost-cutting, it will never be adopted. If it adds value to a person, adoption becomes much easier.

HR first needs to understand that in order to build a more agile organization, they need to adopt solutions that support agile workforce and discourages-control. Therefore, digital transformation must be carried with baby steps initially, targeting low hanging fruits.  Once people realize they are doing better quality work as compared to before digital transformation, they become far more open to greater transformation. The process approach must be clear in the person who is going down the path of automation.

The first wrong step an organization takes in the adoption of new technology is not defining the difference between digitization or digitalization. They confuse with converting analog into digital data, as digitalization. Digitalization is changing of complete business plan.

When considering adoption of HCM technology, HR needs to think about both the short- and long-term plans, and the technology’s agility moving forward. Technology is always changing. 50% of the technology which we are using today will be outdated in the next 2 years. Cloud technology adoption is increasing. Therefore, this needs to be carefully chosen.

Companies must start upskilling their people and encourage them to learn new things. At the same time, doubts might creep into the minds of employees as to what will they do if automation takes over their work? For employees to be open about digital transformation, leaders need to address these doubts to bring about a cultural change before a digital change can take place. Leadership style in digital is no different than traditional leadership but with more agility. Leaders should influence people and not dictate them. In order to be ahead of the game, one must be truly agile in fact super agile because technology is changing every day. Mistakes need to accepted and innovation needs to be part of the cultural fabric. Organizations which empowers their employees to innovate, are the ones which will differentiate between “Chalk” and “Cheese”

We must learn to adapt faster, unlearn and relearn ways of doing our jobs. There is a greater need for CEOs to act with agility given their average tenure has reduced to 5 years, even as challenges and responsibilities have grown multi-fold. Companies with greatest rates of learning agile executives produced 25 percent higher profit margins compared with peer companies. For sure, these things will not be possible if organizations don’t reflect. The point to be noted here is that although agile organizations often change, they do not pursue change for change’s sake. They pursue it for competitive advantage. CEOs need to challenge the status you’re your USP is no longer, a competitive edge for a long time. Arun M. Kumar, Chairman & CEO KPMG India, says, “A successful CEO now needs to be an agile CEO”.

Abraham Lincoln once said that “The best way to predict the future is to create it”. That’s probably the best way to sum up the exciting opportunities we have today, to reimagine and build for the years ahead. Organizations need to think about their strategic roadmap, and “review their entire HCM application landscape and plan for the necessary changes during the coming years.”

The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence- it is acting with yesterday’s logic.

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Arpan Anand, Chief Human Resource Officer, Aditya Infotech. He is a Human Resource professional with more 2 decades of experience in handling Human Capital. Since no 2 human beings are alike, Arpan believes in an unconventional way of dealing with human beings. His key expertise lies in aligning Human capital strategy with business strategy, Leadership development, Talent recruitment and retention, organization development and coaching. Arpan is also of the thought and going forward, the HR department will not exist in the present form since functional managers are turning out to be best HR manager.


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