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Gloucestershire Business News

Cathy O’Donaghue of HR Champions: the digital transformation is about people, not robots

Much of the uncertainty over the future of the high street has been attributed to the shopping habits of consumers, as we switch from buying goods in-store to online.

While the effects of the internet and digital technology are visible on the high street, all aspects of our lives are being transformed at an incredible pace.

Cathy O'Donoghue of HR Champions, discusses what digital transformation means to businesses and employers.

When we talk about digital transformation in the workplace, thoughts probably jump to robots and artificial intelligence; automatons taking over the jobs that are, or were, traditionally done by humans. But not so fast. Digital transformation is in fact all about people.

For employers, it's about having a strategy to bring employees into the 21st century by equipping them with the skills and knowledge to thrive in a digital age.

It's a shame to see the demise of well-known high street names, some of which have been with us all our lives.

However, we cannot deny that it has been a failure by the leaders of these organisations to move with the times, embrace technology and recognise its impact on consumer habits that has ultimately led to their collapse.

We should also recognise that technology for technology's sake is not a solution.

I'm sure I'm not alone in hearing stories of businesses spending thousands of pounds developing an app that will revolutionise the industry.

Often, however, little thought is given to how that app might affect employees or the processes they follow to do their jobs.

When costing app development, remember to plan for implementation and to allow for employee training or recruiting staff with specialist skills.

As we look at implementing digital transformation across an organisation, it might pay to categorise our employees, so that we can apply the most appropriate strategy to them.

We can identify three distinct groups:

• Digital Dependants: These are people born at or after the turn of the millennium and who have always known life with digital technology. For them technology is a must-have.

• Digital Natives: Are those who grew up alongside technology and have seen the changes happen. Being able to adopt and adapt to change is likely to come naturally for this group.

• Digital Migrants: Born without mainstream technology, this group has had to make a step-change from a life without it to one with it.

There is nothing to say that any one group has an advantage over the others when it comes to digital transformation. What is important, is that we recognise that the differences exist.

We need to understand the composition of our own workforces, so that we can take this into account when implementing any form of technological change.

How our people are likely to react will influence the pace of change and the levels of training required.

For example, if you install a digitalised HR system to control processes like absence management, holidays and appraisals, you might need to ensure that everyone has the technological ability to access it as well as the necessary skills.

You might also need to ensure that there is a contingency for when it becomes inaccessible, like when the internet service goes down.

The pace of technological innovation continues at a blistering rate, so we're probably closer than you think to driverless cars and Saturday night takeaways delivered by drone.

If you feel like there's a storm brewing, you might benefit from some support with organisational and cultural change. We'd be delighted to help. In person of course!

Call HR Champions on 01452 331331 or
e-mail info@hrchampions.co.uk 

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