Digital Transformation Will Revolutionize Total Workforce Management

In its broadest definition, digital transformation is the change management process associated with the application of digital technologies such as the Internet of Things, machine learning, blockchain, Industry 4.0, Big Data, and artificial intelligence in all aspects of human society.

Smartly selected and applied, the broad usage of digital technology enables new, often disruptive, innovation and creativity. Its implications are broad, and go beyond a simple enhancement of traditional workforce management processes — they can transform human resources (HR) management as a value driver in the enterprise.

So, with this digitalization comes the opportunity to tackle many of the challenges of the HR function. One of them is the matching of people, and – yes – also new artificial intelligence algorithms, with tasks, projects, and opportunities. How do we route the right work and associated data or information to the person or algorithm that’s best suited to perform the task?

A complication of the situation is created as the workforce is changing in so many ways — both older and younger, better connected and further apart, more specialized, and more diverse than ever before. People are mainly defined by their skills and their ability to contribute to business success, and less by their employment status with a company. The relationship between organizations and workers has changed in fundamental ways, as many contributors are not payroll employees anymore, but rather part time, freelance, and agency workers with a much looser connection to the corporation. The lines are increasingly blurring between employees and external contributors.

Taking this into consideration here are the main areas companies should consider when managing their total workforce of internal and external talent.

Define Work Packages

Traditional, rigid organizational structures don’t do justice to the fast-paced markets and business environments. When it becomes critical to foresee and react on new trends, innovate, and reinvent in a world where pace is the only continuum, organizations need to operate in new, much more flexible structures. Fluid conglomerates of contributors — both human and AI — will come together to work on projects, in task forces, incubation teams, and internal startups for a limited time. Once the goal is achieved these teams will dissolve again and the experts will join new task forces to work on the next challenge. Intelligence derived from data such as metrics, trends, market data, existing projects, and corporate goals — not just leaders — will inform the topics to tackle.

Staff for Maximum Impact

Making sure the work packages or projects have the right staffing is critical. With blurring lines between employees and non-payroll contributors, legislators are tasked to come up with new rules and a legal framework for this new work reality. In addition, companies must figure out how to compensate employees and external contributors to attract and engage this diverse talent.

In the future, it won’t matter if a contributor comes from the internal talent pool, an external talent pool, or is someone the organization has never had any interaction with before. Smart algorithms can analyze skills, relationships, and traits based on our networks and the traces we leave everywhere in our digital lives and make predictions on project outcomes.

New forms of communication like natural language processing help make the connections between people and opportunities, and blockchain will largely eliminate the need for mediators. Smart collaboration tools that become second nature will enable people to work on multiple projects for multiple organizations simultaneously.


Think the term ‘kaizen’ is a thing of the past? Well the concept holds true now more than ever. With the wealth of data that can be analyzed, the predictions that can be made, the intelligence that we can apply, companies have an ideal basis to adjust directions, make new decisions, and thus fine-tune desired outcomes.

Has the project hit a roadblock? Do we need an expert with a special skillset? Was the assumption of the total cost for the project wrong? Do we change course or abandon? Are there new technologies we should apply? Where do we acquire them?

Digital transformation is not only about applying new mobile apps but really requires new approaches to “how things get done.” HR needs to adopt a growth mindset to fully harvest the benefits of this new world of opportunity. They need to fail often and learn, tolerate and embrace constant disruption, and make collaboration the standard.

This future has not fully arrived yet, but it won’t be long. As HR aficionados, we should be visionaries and lead the transformation with our eyes on the prize while we take the first steps of execution.

Find out the five key trends and actions that can help businesses of all sizes address the challenges of digital transformation. IDC and SAP SuccessFactors collaborated to create roadmaps to executing on the latest HR trends. Check out the roadmaps here.