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The Four Roles of HR and Digital Transformation

Blog: Capgemini CTO Blog

The world of HR is changing rapidly with the advent of Digital. For an HR professional, the question “Where do I start?” can be confusing when it comes to transforming HR towards digital HR. One can’t eat an elephant in one bite. In his book “Human Resource Champions – The Next Agenda for Adding Value and Delivering”, Dave Ulrich defines four key roles played by HR in any organization. These four roles can provide us with a starting point for a strategy of Digital Transformation for HR.

(Dave Ulrich. Human Resource Champions: The Next Agenda for Adding Value and Delivering.)

Strategic Partner: Develops and aligns strategies with business.  The strategic partner fosters systems thinking and customer focus.

Change Agent: The change agent understands the organization’s culture and institutionalizes change capability within the organization assisting line managers to lead and facilitate change.

Administrative Expert: The administrative expert creates and delivers effective and efficient HR processes tailored to unique business needs, manages costs and delivers HR products and services.

Employee Champion: The Employee Champion helps implement actions that enhance human capital contribution, help build workforce commitment and equitable people processes and practices.

We can say that Digital HR is imperative in today’s age. Workplaces are becoming virtual, employees are demanding more control of their development, and real-time employee analytics is becoming critical for organizations. It is a new paradigm for HR that embraces digital technology, brings key processes straight to the employee hand held phones, tablets or laptops.

Digital HR is enabling the creation of easy-to-access online applications for many processes like recruiting, compensation management, learning and development, and talent management. Furthermore, Digital HR today is potentially a tool for cultural transformation.

Given the above, we may envisage digital HR transformation using the four roles described above in the Dave Ulrich model.

Strategic Partner: The Strategic partner has a key role to play in this shift towards a Digital by aligning the organizations business strategies with the upcoming digital environment. Along with the business focus, internal customers, i.e. the employees can benefit from easy-to-navigate platforms that make various processes such as new employee onboarding friendly and seamless. These could take the form of mobile apps that help roll out and access quick pulse surveys or of an e-communicator that helps employees connect with their HR partners anytime, anywhere.

Change Agent: Research states that the digital way of delivering learning, such as e-based training sessions and video-based learning, is more effective not only in terms of reach but also in terms of ease of delivering content. For example: Organizations are putting into place community based e- learning platforms through which employees can reach each other across geographical regions, anytime anywhere and collaborate and learn based on common learning goals or interests.  This is one example of how the digital way of working is critical for any HR change agent if they want to truly connect with today’s work force and engage them in new ways of working, development, and growth.

Administrative expert: Whether it is analyzing multiple sources of data within seconds, providing feasible solutions, or calculating the ROI on various employee initiatives, digital HR is the key to quick and informed strategy and decision-making. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are tools that are being used by businesses such as Amazon to predict customer behavior, the same model can be increasingly used to also predict employee potential or to design effective retention strategies.

Employee Champion: Research has shown that employee engagement is one of the top priorities of most leaders. Employees nowadays prefer jobs that give them the flexibility to work anytime anywhere. Research has also shown that organizations with strong online networks, digital networking tools and enhanced digital platforms have experienced an enhancement in employee engagement. In today’s digital era with the millennial generation forming the major part of an organization’s workforce, one cannot overlook the power of digital design to enhance employee engagement and improve ties between an organization and its employees. It may be noted that planning the digital transformation of HR using the above paradigm is not the only way. There are probably many ways in which organizations may plan their digital transformation journey. What this paradigm certainly does is help breakdown the effort, and helps HR professionals plan where to invest effort and money depending on the needs of the organization.

The future of the Human Resource function and each of these four HR roles lies in digital transformation. Whether it is about e-learning programs, employee analytics, employee platforms for various processes, embarking on this transformation journey is truly the next stage in transforming HR into Digital HR.

Author: TP Deo

Co-authored by: Ritu Singh


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