BLOG Overcoming the digital delay: Why organisations must prioritise digital transformation

By Geoffroy de Lestrange, International Product Marketing and Communication Director at Cornerstone OnDemand

This year, many saw digital transformation efforts really take off in their organisations, across all departments. As in-person communication and processes became impossible with the country wide lockdowns, more people began to experience almost everything online. But while the Coronavirus crisis has accelerated digital transformation efforts, there is still a long way to go.

Many of those still working through the crisis have made huge changes to their way of work, their processes, and even their job roles. And following these changes, people may be more likely to accept large scale change going forward. For example, in October, Microsoft Teams announced it had reached 115 million users and here at Cornerstone, we saw an increased appetite for our e-learning Content Anytime offerings across Europe.

From a HR perspective, digital transformation can be discussed in two main ways. Firstly, there is the transformation of businesses. This is where an organisation journeys to become more digital. When this happens, the workforce must match the ambitions of the organisations, and therefore, skills must be assessed to understand and develop any missing skills. Secondly is the transformation of the HR department. In this case, this is the act of streamlining and enhancing processes such as using AI to prompt learning and development or allowing employees to personalise their career paths.

Going forward, digital changes within HR such as moving to the cloud, utilising AI and Machine Learning to automate processes or improving work on analytics will help with reducing time on admin and making the workplace processes simpler and more efficient. Moreover, this transformation will also help to future-proof organisations in what is already a rather tumultuous time.

Returning to some sense of normality is on the cards for 2021, and while it may be nice to return to the way things were done before, it’s important to continue and accelerate the efforts made this year. The transformation chapter is never ending, and we must keep adapting.

Redefining career paths and turning managers into coaches

Some of the benefits of digital transformation within HR were highlighted first-hand this year, when it came to an organisation’s ability to pivot its business and its people to deliver a different product or service. With continued uncertainty ahead, people must continue to take control of their own careers and seek development that aligns with the direction of their organisation. With this approach, people can manage their own data, understand potential skill gaps and be served with the learning they need to progress, applying for internal jobs with ease. With AI-based software, people can access their own internal mobility suitability and set the career path of their choice, making them more likely to stay with the organisation for longer.  

This lends itself directly to impacting and benefiting the work of managers. The digitalisation of employee data can help with automating parts of the performance reviews, offer suggestions for those who may be ready for a promotion and suggest the best training to help people with their personalised goals. By providing data-driven feedback to employees, managers can help guide their people in the right direction, have the right information to make better business decisions, and use their time to coach their people. This will also have a direct impact on the C-suite, through improved access to workforce information and the ability to make data-driven decisions through clearer visibility over the entire workforce.

Accepting automation and accelerating efficiency

Some HR departments are still using Excel as their main tool to manage processes and in terms of efficiency, this is a massive problem. Having unautomated processes means that teams are spending much more time working on tedious admin tasks than working toward bigger goals. A clear view of the workforce in a secure and easy space is what’s needed at the most basic level and with the amount of software solutions available, teams can both manage and develop the entire workforce, carry out core functions, and simplify processes such as learning, recruitment and performance management all while contributing to the overall business strategy. Additionally, digitalising processes allows for better data privacy and security of employee data, helping organisations protect themselves from potential hacks or exposure whilst automatically enforcing GDPR compliance.

It’s transformation time, and here’s how to pick the right vendors

Once deciding to continue with (or start) transformation projects, finding the right vendor is the next logical step. With so many companies out there suggesting their solution would be the best, it’s a great idea to take a step back, and examine this from a few different angles.

Firstly, do the vendors fit the specific organisational strategy and needs? The decision making process should be primarily impacted by how much the service will help to solve the challenges faced, and to do this, the solution must complement company culture and support the overall business goals. It is also a good idea to ask the vendors if they have carried out a thorough ROI analysis that they can share for review. Demonstration of value is so important right now, especially for gaining that internal buy-in as many may be cautious of making financial investments this coming year.

Finally, don’t just take the vendors word for it, conduct extensive research! Try looking at what competitors are using and if possible, try to find out about their experience with the software – this kind of insight is extremely valuable and ensures that all bases are covered before the benchmarking process can begin.

For benchmarking a shortlist, try ranking them using features that the organisation considers important such as the price, or the data protection it offers. When choosing a provider, make sure to understand the experience in all areas that are important to the organisation and consider all the elements that will help to make the investment worthwhile. And of course, the investment is not only financial, there must be a willingness and time dedicated to fully invest in the project from start to finish. We recommend putting the emphasis on experience and hyper-personalisation, keeping people front and centre; otherwise the digital transformation won’t be as effective and in fact could fail. People are the drivers of change.

Digital transformation in HR offers so many benefits including higher talent retention, better decision making, lowered costs, automation of manual processes and much more. If we want to emerge out of the current crisis stronger than before, we need to be open to trying new things and improve our current solutions to problems. Digital transformation, in many ways, has been a lifeline for us all this year, and to help future-proof organisations, we must up the ante, welcome change and keep pushing forward. Incremental digital transformation may have been okay pre-pandemic, but now organisations must accelerate to stay relevant and adaptable.  

Geoffroy De Lestrange, International Product Marketing and Communication Director at Cornerstone OnDemand

Geoffroy De Lestrange is currently the International Product Marketing and Communication Director at Cornerstone OnDemand. He has years of experience in international B2B marketing management in the tech sector, specialising in talent management systems and human capital management. He is also experienced in international and multi-lingual marketing as well as analyst relations. Geoffroy is passionate about learning, the future of work and how HR can make a real business impact. Previously, he spent many years in marketing across different European countries, in software, robotics and insurance.

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