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Workforce Empowerment: The Guiding Force of Winning Digital Strategies

Feature Article | October 25, 2017 by Greg Tomb

It seems like “digital transformation” has become a corporate buzzword, but the fact is, we keep talking about it because nearly every day we experience it – a new business model; a more efficient, faster operational process; an incredible online buying experience; or a revolutionary product or service that reorients the competitive landscape.

The latest IDC research “HR Must Deliver on Transformation,” which we at SAP SuccessFactors sponsored, found that 84% of organizations are currently undertaking digital transformation – and 22% of those have already been involved in activities around digital transformation for over five years. Despite the time, money, and attention spent on these initiatives, companies are still encountering a few significant barriers to realizing the true potential of their investments: people, knowledge, financial incentives, and workplace culture.

Source: HR Must Deliver on Transformation,” IDC, sponsored by SAP SuccessFactors, 2017.

So what is getting in the way? Given the vested interest CIOs, CTOs, and CEOs have in how technology powers business performance and sets a path to future success, it seems like we might be missing the point. Which is that until we recognize that our people come first and technologies come second, technology investments will never fully rise to their expected potential.

Empowering the Workforce Across All Areas of the Business

One of the key findings of the IDC study is that CHROs and their HR teams actually have the greatest potential and hold the keys – more than any other area of the company – to break the vicious cycle of failed digital investments and initiatives. The research suggests that a greater focus on people, not just technology, gives functional managers control to acquire the best talent, develop the right skills, and keep employees engaged and feeling accountable for their work and how they impact your company’s success.

I want to share four things to address in taking a people-centric approach to digital transformation so you can capitalize on the capabilities needed to compete in today’s highly digital marketplace:

  • Bridge the talent scarcity gap: The war for talent is fierce, but it’s more a matter of a lack of skills, as opposed to a lack of people. The future of work will depend on a workforce that has the tools to develop creativity, address complex problem solving, and engage in lateral thought. Using data and working with business leaders, HR can help develop a strategy to define required skill sets for years to come.
  • Adapt to changing work practices: We’re all learning that managing a mix of traditional, full-time employees, along with the increased use of contingent workers, demands both flexibility and agility. New technologies can address ever-evolving employee behaviors and needs, and introduce best practices to your organization, so you can transform your structure and culture and give everyone more room to adapt, grow, and succeed.
  • Deliver outcomes that matter: For an increasingly diverse workforce, delivering on business outcomes requires meeting their expectations – for flexibility, work/life balance, development, benefits, and compensation. This is creating an environment of different priorities and greater complexity which equals a more challenging environment for HR management.
  • Meet employees’ high bar for the workplace experience: Our expectations for the tools we use on a daily basis to get our work done have changed, thanks to the app world we live in in our personal lives. An engaged workforce demands that HR stays in the lead of innovation, to make sure these digital tools work for your people and not against them.

Digital transformation requires that your people, and the people you’re looking to bring in, are ready for change. Which puts people at the heart of digital transformation.


Find out the five key trends and actions that can help businesses of all sizes address the challenges of digital transformation.
Read the IDC interactive report “HR Must Deliver on Transformation,” sponsored by SAP SuccessFactors.

Greg Tomb is president of SAP SuccessFactors

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