Digital Content (HR and Business Transformation)
These are the most critical skills for Digital Transformation
The way we live, work, and relate to one another is on the verge of a fundamental overhaul; this isn’t mere speculation anymore, but an impending eventuality. While many of these changes are well underway, there is a need for clarity amidst several important stakeholders. Do you, as an employee, feel confident that your current skill set will ensure your employability tomorrow? As an employer, do you understand the transformation that is necessary to survive? Do you comprehend the ways in which businesses are about to change? Are you prepared to balance human and machine intellect to derive the best from both? Let’s find out.
One way to define digital transformation is to undertake “the realignment of, or new investment in, technology, business models, and processes to drive new value and experiences for customers and employees and more effectively compete in an ever-changing digital economy.”
According to a Skillsoft study, only 50% of those who participated in a survey admitted to having a strategy in place, 24% admitted to no such policy, and more alarmingly, 26% said that they didn’t know, indicating confusion over what is actually needed for a sound digital transformational policy.
Digital Transformation Strategy in Learning & Skilling
Nearly 70% of the respondents of the survey agree that their workforce needs to improve their skills to meet the digital transformation opportunities and challenges. Furthermore, 50% consider the requests to update and align skills sets to support the digital transformation is a big priority, 24% are beginning to witness such requests, 20% believe that despite the lack of requests, one needs to work in the direction nonetheless.
Here are some of the most critical skills needed to manage a transformation:
New transformation technology skills:
- The Basics of New Transformation Technologies
- Designing a Design Mindset/Designing and Delivering New Digital Experiences
- Adaptive Thinking and Agile Approaches
- Digital Communication/Virtual Collaboration
- Computational Thinking & Cognitive Load Management
Critical adaptive thinking and agile approaches skills needed:
- Thinking Adaptively/Developing an Agile Mindset
- Agile Management Technique
- Agile Product Ownership: Role and Responsibilities
- Lean Product Management
- Automating Business Processes
Design mindset skills needed:
- Design Thinking
- Customer Journey Mapping
- Data Modelling for Digital
- Data Visualization
- Exploring UI/UX Design
Merely upgrading technical skills will not be enough. To ensure that the core business values and culture sustains, communication, leadership, soft skills and operating models, all need to undergo an evolution. While the challenge is definitely complex and uniquely multifaceted, building a few foundational capabilities can ensure a smoother transition to a more robust transformation strategy. A few of such capabilities are:
- Required understanding of new technologies (include AI, IoT, ML, etc.), existing and emerging technologies
- Designing new digital customer experiences
- Developing new business models that capitalize on new technologies and experience
- Leading and managing in the digital age
The transformation provides organizations with a unique opportunity to proactively help in bridging the skills gap in Digital Transformation. The reality and pace of change that is impacting business is no longer in a distant, unsure future. Rather, it is one which is well past its way from infancy, and one which we, as individuals, employers, industries societies, and governments, seem massively under-prepared for. The best, and most effective, way is to understand what going ‘digital’ means, find out what it means for you, list the areas you need to work at, design a strategy and get cracking!
The What and How of a Digital Strategy
The conventional way: Digital HR = HR Technology Roadmap
The better way: Digital HR = Business Value in the New World of Work
The WHAT: New Areas of Focus
The HOW: HR Innovation Culture
A Balanced Digital HR Strategy
Digital Content (HR and Business Transformation)
Building New Organisational Models to Achieve True Digital Transformation
TO ACHIEVE TRUE DIGITAL WORKPLACE TRANSFORMATION, COMPANIES MUST ADOPT NEW ORGANISATIONAL MODELS, AND RADICALLY CHANGE OUTDATED MANAGEMENT AND LEADERSHIP STYLES. LEADERS, AND EVERYONE INVOLVED, MUST DEVELOP A NEW MINDSET AROUND THE ENABLING TECHNOLOGIES — MAKING SURE THE TOOLS ENABLE PEOPLE TO DO MORE AND TO DO DIFFERENT THINGS, RATHER THAN JUST DOING OLD THINGS IN NEW WAYS. IN THIS WIDE-RANGING INTERVIEW, GERRY MCGOVERN HIGHLIGHTS WHAT EMPLOYEES NEED WITHIN THE DIGITAL WORKPLACE.
Every organisation should be developing their digital workplace. It’s not about one, single solution, but about understanding all the many and varied tools and digital experiences staff need and have when working. Leaders and managers should understand that data is an asset, and should be looking for ways to use business intelligence to inform decisions and create new opportunities. The business needs pushing in new directions, but strategy and decisions need to be supported by relevant information, and considerate of employee productivity and satisfaction.
Yet here we are, 18 years into the new century, and many companies still don’t know how to define, manage, or develop their digital workplace. Too often, internal processes are antiquated, relying on laborious manual steps. Worse still, managers fail to grasp the true meaning of ‘transformation’, and don’t fully consider the people and process changes required when new technologies are deployed.
“Management doesn’t care very much about the digital environment of employees. Strangely, they care more about the physical environment but the digital workplace has been massively neglected. Senior managers pay no or little attention to their the intranet,” says intranet maverick and worldwide experienced consultant, Gerry McGovern.
MARGINALIA spoke with McGovern to explore what organisations should be doing to ensure they create an effective, 21st century digital workplace. In this interview, McGovern suggests a radical change of leadership style and organisational culture, which puts the individual to the centre of attention. He gives practical examples, and also shares some emerging trends coming to the workplace.
GL: What is holding organisations back when it comes to their ability to create a digital workplace that employees find easy to use?
GM: The core problems are lack of management, focus, and engagement. There is a historical lack of respect from management for employees. Employees are given poor systems and expected to understand how and when to use them, even when things take longer and they can’t see the benefit.
If we compare the quality of internal versus external digital tools – enterprise software versus public consumer software – they are like night and day. There’s a vast difference in the quality of the experience they deliver.
Management doesn’t care very much about the digital environment of its employees. Strangely, they care more about the physical environment but the digital workplace has been massively neglected. Senior managers pay no or little attention to the intranet; so employees struggle with subpar software and become disengaged, partly, because the digital tools they’re forced to use make everything so arduous and have steep, and costly, learning curves.
GL: What do employees need and want from their digital workplace?
GM: Employees expect just the basics from a digital workplace. People have been shown by Amazon, Google, and even Twitter, how easy things can be. So, they just expect things to work and to be relatively simple. They certainly don’t expect to have to deal with a torturous, horribly designed, IT system.
Most organisations are not delivering the essentials, and so employees are frustrated. It’s essential that information and processes are up-to-date and accurate. But the ability to manage and make information findable in most organisations is still terribly poor. It’s down to a lack of management; there are no quality controls, and no processes for removing out-of-date and irrelevant information from the intranet, the document management system, or the various project management ‘systems’. Metadata isn’t used in a consistent manner, to make information findable. People think that they just need to buy a search engine to solve all their problems, but content and the search engine needs good management. It’s the maintenance of standards and day-to-day management that’s missing from the digital workplace.
GL: What types of organisational models could help companies thrive in this and the next decade? Are you seeing any emerging trends?
GM: New organisational models are indeed beginning to emerge. Everybody talks about collaboration, which is more than a practice; it’s actually a journey to a new model. A collaborative approach to organisation is at the other end to hierarchy; I think traditional, strict, hierarchical organisations are not fit for purpose in the digital economy. They are too slow, too cumbersome, and they don’t create the desired results in many business situations.
More collaborative types of decision making are emerging. There’s a different model of management that is much more focused on evidence and much less on traditional hierarchy and ego. Leadership becomes more humility driven. The management structure is more data driven, more flexible, and adaptable. Those flexible organisations have an obsession with simplicity and reducing complexity. They have a constant strategic focus on simplifying the life of the employee and internal processes.
GL: What should traditional organisations do to become more future-ready?
GM: Focus on less, and do it much better. Improve the tasks of the employee – whether it’s collaboration or product development or whatever it might be.
Focus on the crucial task, what I call the ‘top task’ of the employee, and streamline it in a iterative model via continuous improvement based on the evidence of the worker’s ability to actually do those tasks. So, manage based on the outcomes of individual rather than the ‘opinions’ of the manager. That is a real shift.
Understand what is critical to employees to do their job on a day-to-day basis. Then, measure it through an observation of the user experience, the employee experience: observe what people are doing and record the evidence, for example, noticing that, ‘50 percent of our sales reps cannot find an up-to-date sales presentation’. Report the metrics around the ability of the workforce to do critical tasks in their day-to-day work – show management and stakeholders what works and what doesn’t work for employees
GL: You mentioned ‘humility’ earlier. Similarly, a business professor at the University of Virginia Darden School, Edward Hess, believes that, ‘humility is the new smart’, highlighting the criticality of this skill in the technology-driven age.
How can you actually teach humility to organisations?
GM: It can be difficult to teach humility. But if organisations constantly focus on the evidence, they can better create a sense of humility in some people. For example, saying, ‘We tested what you said would work. Actually after testing it, we found out that it didn’t work’. By relying on evidence, people can avoid ego traps and opinion-driven decision making.
So, constantly test and observe to see if any particular idea works or not. Often, when people test their ideas in real situations, they realise that those ideas are not, after all, quite as smart as they thought they were. Theories need testing, rather than trusting blindly.
The opposite of humility is the ‘godlike’ sort of management structure, where people just make decisions based on their gut instinct, and rely on their position of authority They do not look for, or need, evidence.
In contrast, a ‘humanity-based’ management model comes about when individuals constantly seek evidence to make the right decisions. We will never have all the information, nor all the answers – the world is too complex. But we can make better decisions when we use our experience in-sync with evidence, and alongside our colleagues – we need diversity, not group-think, when making big decisions.
We need to know how to know rather than to know the actual answer. We can know how to get the answer. We don’t necessarily know the answer straight off. Jean Piaget, the developmental psychologist, said “Intelligence is what you use when you don’t know what to do” – we need to be humble enough to know when we don’t know stuff, and intelligent enough to know how to find out more.
GL: Can you share some examples of organisations that have embraced a culture of humility?
GM: Successful companies are emerging with newer, better models for engaging employees and empowering them.
Google, for example, does not have the classical organisational hierarchy. They are much more consensus driven and collaborative; they have flatter structures. There is less dictatorial management than in traditional companies, which are harder to change because they often have 40 or 50 years of management legacy.
Facebook is another example. A Product Manager at Facebook gave a talk once, saying that managers at Facebook have no authority. ‘They cannot tell anybody to do anything. What they are good at is influence, and they are always looking for the evidence’.
Amazon is a strange type of environment: it is ‘difficult’ in some respects, but very driven, and with a culture of evidence as well. They are constantly testing and experimenting, and making decisions based on what is actually working and not working.
Zappos is another interesting example of a culture that is quite different from a traditional, ego-based, hierarchy structure.
GL: This is a period of time when everyone talks about predictions for the New Year. And MARGINALIA is about the future of work. We certainly don’t have a crystal ball, and, using your humility argument, we should say that we don’t have all the answers.
But do you have any expectations or views to share with MARGINALIA for what could happen in 2018 regarding the evolution of the world of work, and the digital workplace, in particular?
GM: Generally speaking, it’s interesting to observe what has happened with Slack over the last couple of years. Slack shows how digital workplace systems do not have to suck; internal tools can be relatively easy to use, and useful in the process. Slack brought to us the possibility that we can develop and deploy enterprise systems which are actually useful and easy to use. However, the consumer-oriented user interface may have brought ease of use, but many organisations use and abuse Slack to the extent that people are swamped with notifications and banal conversations. We must remember that new ways of working are needed when we adopt new systems.
An ‘awakening’ is happening inside workplaces. The youngest generations are just much less accepting of the extremely poor quality internal systems that their older colleagues were forced to use. There is almost an internal revolt against horrible systems; they’re simply not willing to accept the low quality tools that have been delivered by the organisation in the past.
In some instances, IT strategy is just ignored and people just find their own tools – often cloud services and mobile apps. If IT and management do not rise to the challenge, they are going to find themselves redundant.
A while back, we had the bring your own device (BYOD). Now we have bring your own technology and software – bring your own everything. So, what’s the purpose of managers if employees have to find the right tools to allow them to collaborate efficiently? What is the future of the IT department if they don’t own or support cloud services?
The trend is continuing: employees are designing their own digital environment, influencing their colleagues’ ways of working, and bypassing traditional management.
Organizational Development, Design and Learning
Why #learning transfer is more important than evaluation
Painting a picture…
So why is there such a void between what we in L&D believe is happening, and what is actually happening in the real world?
How does this look from the learner’s perspective?
What are top-performing organisations doing?
Where to next?
Future of Work and Technology
Putting People First to Create the Future of Work
THE ‘PEOPLE FIRST PLATFORM’ BRINGS HR, FLOW TECHNOLOGY, INFUSED AI AND CHATBOT FUNCTIONS TOGETHER TO NURTURE A PRODUCTIVE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE EMPLOYEE AND EMPLOYER, AND BETWEEN THE EMPLOYEE AND THEIR WORK. MARGINALIA SPEAKS WITH HEAD OF MARKETING, JULIET HAILSTONE, TO EXPLORE HOW THE PLATFORM CONTRIBUTES TO THE FUTURE OF WORK. IN THIS INTERVIEW, HAILSTONE DISCUSSES THE IMPACT OF DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION ON HR, AND SUGGESTS ORGANISATIONS MUST PUT THEIR ‘PEOPLE FIRST’ IF THEY ARE TO BE SUCCESSFUL AND PRODUCTIVE IN THE YEARS AHEAD.
The benefits of a well-designed and well-managed digital workplace should be obvious, but it’s not enough to simply invest in the latest, greatest technology. The cultural shift required for embedding new ways of working demands a clear business change strategy, and most importantly, a deep understanding of employees’ needs.
A decent digital workplace enables real-time communication and synchronous, or asynchronous, collaboration that cuts down admin and improves productivity. Social communication tech enables the previously unheard majority to be directly involved with business and so improves agility. And emerging technologies, such as flow technology, pragmatic analytics, AI and chatbots, can analyse masses of data, free people from repetitive tasks, and offer a different interface to systems.
But it’s wise to be wary; all this tech, all these new interfaces and systems and apps can feel overwhelming or intrusive for some people, and may even make them feel disconnected from their colleagues.
While our tech is now ‘always on’ and we are ‘always connected’, we should remember that work belongs to humans. Business belongs to people. Technology must serve our needs, not the other way around. A simple ethos like this is something all organisations need, to be productive while still being focused on the meaning of work and the value of the end result.
The future of work is being created right now by our developing ways of working and by innovators in the field, and will be supported by the evolution of next gen enterprise infrastructure. Our supporting tech will need to interact with individuals in useful and convenient ways, it will need to prioritise people, putting them first. This is what Juliet Hailstone, Head of Marketing at people first, firmly believes.
MARGINALIA spoke with Hailstone to explore how the people first platform contributes to the future of work. Powered by artificial intelligence features, the platform promises to deliver improved productivity and engagement. In this interview, Hailstone shares her views on digital transformation’s impact on HR, the impact of AI on the employee experience, and offers her predictions for 2018.
Gloria Lombardi: Our workplaces have been transformed by technology. How do you see the evolution of HR as a consequence of this digital transformation?
Juliet Hailstone: Looking at the impact of digital transformation on people and how it impacts their expectations within the world of work, it seems that companies are spending more and more money on HR technology and engagement tools; this type of technology stack is growing. But employee engagement, productivity, and the overall satisfaction of employees are all decreasing. So right now, something isn’t working. We need to ask why this is?
One of the reasons is that technology is often applied to the world of work in ways that compromise people’s productivity rather than enhancing it. A recent study by Gallup found 52 percent of employees are going through the motions of being at work – doing what they’ve got to do – but are often not engaged, not happy and therefore not as productive as they could be if they brought their ‘full selves’ to the party.
One of the main impacts of digital transformation is that people practitioners and strategists have a bigger responsibility to try and fix all this. Primarily, it involves considering the world of work from the people aspect: What do people need? How do they work? How can the company help them to be the best they can be, to benefit of their own happiness and productivity levels?
So rather than it being about processes and systems, the responsibility now is to use the technology to put people first. We could continue to let tech dominate human relationships and prompting growing levels of disengagement, or we could put people at the heart of everything, and make digital transformation work for them.
GL: So, what should HR do to ensure they are putting people first when adopting digital tools?
JH: Businesses need to get on board with a new kind of relationship between the employer and the employee. Putting people first involves companies committing to a more open relationship with people. It’s respectful and balanced, and it’s about achieving the best for both parties. For business leaders and their HR teams, it’s about accepting the inevitable culture change, working to embed a new ethos, and considering the different ways employees and employers can work together to achieve the best possible results.
GL: Could you share a concrete example?
JH: I can use ourselves, people first, as an example. We live and breathe the ethos of ‘people first’. We have very respectful relationships with each other no matter where someone would sit in the traditional ‘business hierarchy’ (we have a psychologically flat structure). We know each other’s strengths, and we are decisive on how we want technology to be used. We obviously use the people first platform ourselves. The chatbot’s ‘Focus Mode’ is my personal favourite – it screens our emails and helps protect our moments of optimal productivity.
There’s a great deal of discussion around being in the flow at work at the moment, and that’s what the people first team lives. Our technology complements it and helps us to stay in the flow, and be productive and engaged. We’re strongly connected to our purpose.
GL: How does the people first platform work, exactly?
JH: The people first platform very much contributes to the future of work. It is built on Microsoft Azure technology (PaaS). The app includes the HR management tools you would expect to find in a well-established HR system, but that is only the start. people first applies AI and flow technology to keep people happy, engaged and at their most productive. The system proactively uses data to support managers and employees to do the best job they can – be that during an augmented check-in, through automatic job crafting, or through chatbot briefings, coaching and ‘Focus Mode’. It’s all about keeping people in the happy, productive, energised and engaged flow – where people are energised by their work to deliver the best outputs they possibly can.
So, the people first app is much more than just an HR system; it’s about people realisation.
And technology-wise, the open people platform within which the people first app sits is truly open technology, so our partners can easily link to people first, or build their own apps using the people first development tools and sell them on the people first marketplace.
GL: How does your use of AI impact the employee experience?
JH: people first is infused with artificial intelligence. It is everywhere – from employees’ ability to undertake transactional HR matters such as booking holiday through their chatbot, to automatic data insights fed to those that need them.
During check-ins, people first virtually coaches managers through the process using insights, almost acting as a third person in the room that is recording the process and making recommendations to ensure that both parties get the best outcomes.
The system learns when employees are at their most productive and helps them to protect their focus time, recommending ‘focus mode’ activation to protect them from interruptions.
There are many more examples – hopefully these examples show how infused and intelligent people first AI is, and how ready it is to help keep employees happy and in the productive flow right now. The entire people first platform is intelligent enough to help any employee to do their best work. But it’s not ‘big brother’; the platform isn’t watching people work – people are working with the platform to create a better work life.
GL: Looking at the year head, do you have any expectations around the future of work. What are your future of work predictions for 2018?
JH: We should assume that AI and automation will continue to impact work, but people will remain the most important focus. Our work systems and tools will take on aspects of our personal tech and our consumer tech, and people will bring their personal productivity tactics to the workplace.
The technology that fails to take on board the people aspect of work, that fails to genuinely help people when they’re new, when they’re busy, when they’re frustrated, or simply when they want to give more of themselves but don’t know how, will not be fit for the future of work.
The future of work is about people. The most innovative and most useful tools will help people find their flow – to be productive and enjoy their work. Such positive engagement benefits both parties, the individual and the organisation; it’s an alliance. Organisations will need to recognise the value of this alliance, building respectful relationships to support a happy and engaged workforce.