Accelerating Digital Transformation: 5 Ways CHROs can Help

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How can CHROs help speed up digital transformation across the enterprise? That was a key question at a recent G100 Talent Consortium seminar. Author Ram Charan and Pat Wadors, Chief Talent Officer at ServiceNow, led a conversation with CHROs, which helped unlock actionable insights. The ensuing conversation led us to five key ideas—and no surprise, it all starts with people.

1. Create a culture that embraces agility and operates at the speed of data. Think like a startup. HR managers must instill a growth mindset and facilitate continuous discussion about disruption and agility. Does your company’s senior team prize speed, agility, and continuous innovation? Change management used to be a deliberate plan with a long runway. That approach is no longer relevant in the fast-moving world. Off-sites and town halls alone are no longer an effective way to communicate strategy. Digital tools can enhance the execution of change management practices. Leading companies use digital engagement platforms to drive speed and transparency of strategy communication—creating real dialogue and engagement at all levels. Additionally, advanced analytics tools like Natural Language Processing can help companies gain predictive insights to drive change adoption—allowing for real-time understanding of what’s working and what’s not. Legacy organizations must build capability to operate at the speed of data—which is at lightning speed— in order to stay on top of changing habits, attitudes, and preferences of their consumers and customers.

2. Transform Core Functions. Core functions provide critical support to the organization and work process. Leaders of core functions must rethink their role in the increasing digital world we live and work in. Traditional roles of marketing, finance, and strategy can pose obstacles to digitization in many companies. These functions must evolve in lock step with the business units in order for the whole enterprise to transform. Digital transformation starts with finding or building more data-savvy talent—leaders who can comfortably make the move to data-based decision making. That doesn’t mean everyone needs to know how to build algorithms. Rather, leaders must understand how to use them and glean predictive insights from them. Are your core functional leaders up to the challenge? Do your core function heads regularly partner and interact with your CIO/CDO to create best-in-class data-based strategies and work processes?

3. Build capability to enhance the customer journey. How can your business reach consumers in less time and use digitization to personalize each customer’s experience but do so in ways that secures user privacy and protects user personal data? Start by mapping the end-to-end consumer experience to begin measuring the quality and quantity of touchpoints. Many airlines, for example, have 65 consumer touchpoints. Are there more direct ways to reach and understand consumers based on where your business falls in the value chain? CHROs must recruit AI talent and embed them into product and service teams to bring a data-driven approach to building customer experiences. They must also create and incentivize cross-functional teams to improve end-to-end customer experiences while ensuring the utmost privacy and care of customer information.

4. Double down on digital upskilling. Legacy companies often require digital capability leaps to deliver on their transformation strategy. Is your company truly data-driven? How well does your organization understand new technologies (e.g., AI, IoT) and existing tools (e.g., CRM)? How does your organization keep up with emerging data technologies and incorporate them into your work and tech systems? Does your organization have the capability to design digital customer experiences or capitalize on data and digital experiences to build new business models? Map digital skills to your organization’s goals to understand the required capabilities your business needs to succeed. Then, allocate two years’ worth of development dollars for immersive training.

5. Enhance employee experience through digital. Established companies can bring people along the digital journey by building modern work experiences. The rise of cross-functional workflows, however, make this difficult. Take onboarding, often a friction-laid process where employees navigate IT, finance, compliance, and security. What if software collected data on all important moments and nurtured an employee’s journey, from recruit to alumnus, with predictive training and development? Find process designers who can map all employee touchpoints across silos and functions, a crucial data collection exercise lacking in most big companies. Then, design experiences that place talent at the center and reinforce company principles.

Digital disruption and the ever-changing business landscape have significantly changed the C-suite’s directive. While all executives must understand how to embrace this new world, CHROs play a critical role in successful transformation. In partnership with the CEO, function leaders, and business lines, CHROs can help build the right culture and capabilities required to successfully drive digital transformation across the enterprise.

Winning in digital is no easy feat. I recently coauthored, “Bringing Your Digital Strategy to Life,” at the request of CEOs. As you partner with your own CEO on your company’s digital imperatives, I hope you find this whitepaper to be a valuable resource.

Additionally, we’d love to open the dialogue and hear from you! What has been the most impactful way that you’ve accelerated transformation? We invite you to share your thoughts in the comments with #Run2Digital.


deb2Deb Henretta is Partner at G100 Companies and spearheads SSA & Company’s Digital Transformation practice.

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