How digitalization impacts HR and required skills

How digitalization impacts HR and required skills

Author: Simon Schoop, Managing Director of 4-advice Change & Innovation

I love Barcelona. It´s always worth a visit and particularly attractive to be invited to have a key note. So of course, I followed the invitation to the second International Barcelona HR conference which took place in the Palau de la Musica on October 9th, 2015. Here is the summary of my view on how the digital transformation impacts the Human Resources function as well as the skills that are required nowadays in order to remain successful in our ultracompetitive, fast-paced business world. We will publish the video of the speech in addition to this blog post, as soon as it becomes available.

Imagine a five year old boy. His father is a digital immigrant, he´s a true digital native. What is the difference between them ? Is it just a generation ? I believe that it´s more than that, because a digital generation is no longer what we used to define as a generation of about 25 years, but due to the accelerated pace of change for businesses, it is now 10 years or less. So in terms of digital maturity there are two and a half generations between father and son and not just one. If you think back how the business world looked two and a half generations – applying the traditional definition of 25 years per generation – you´re back in the 1950s. If you imagine life in the 50s – this is how it will seem to our kids that our life must have been when we were young. First computer at 10 years versus unblocking iPads at 11 months, first e-mail when joining university versus kids who don´t even do e-mail anymore but focus on one-to-many communication platforms such as Facebook. 

There is a tsunami of change in terms of digital competence between the generation older than 35 years and todays´ kids. Keep that picture in your head and it becomes pretty clear that not HR needs to do something pretty severe changes in order to stay (or get back) into the driver seat for steering the most important success factor of any company – their employees. 

And to do so, the average HR mindset needs to be adapted upfront ! Thinking digital means, among other factors, to segment your stakeholders (no matter if employee, customer or partner) using the digital maturity based segments, e.g. the ones developed by Ray Wang and featured in our edition about digital transformation:

·        Digital natives

·        Digital Immigrants

·        Digital Voyeurs

·        Digital Holdouts

·        Digitally Disengaged

·        Digitally Balanced

If people “think digital”, the perspective changes tremendously and enables the organization to cope with the change triggered by digitalization in the best possible way – to leverage it in order to become even more competitive ! 

One important lever for HR apart from thinking digital, is to develop corporate employer branding. In today´s world it is an imperative for anyone who does not want to be a cost leader but rather lead through innovation and functionality to be

considered innovative. It is crucial to retain internal talent as well as to attract externals focusing on digital solutions. But often, the larger the company gets, the less innovative i
t becomes. So in order to be innovative, it is crucial to understand what the root causes are for being less innovative, rather than working on symptoms. 
It does not have a sustainable, long term effect if a corporation decides to work on symptoms such as deciding to 20 new products in the next year if they are immature and therefore won´t lead to the market success that is needed. To achieve a balanced, young enough product portfolio beyond cash cows and dogs, it takes more than that. Companies need to understand why and where they have barriers to being innovative – barriers that are deep rooted in their company culture, in the way “things are done” usually. In the attached graphic, you can see how it works to become more innovative. 

You can find a detailed description and try the innovation culture assessment tool on our website in German (contact us by mail or phone us at +49 228 2274740 to get user credentials and password) or you can find further information on our partner website Innoquotient in English

Of course, it takes more than knowing what the barriers are that you have. But once you know you can either overcome them if you have the right means internally or ask for our help to support you with our experience in overcoming the barriers to innovation in your company. 

Offered and required skills have both changed – HR needs to provide new solutions for the digital natives

In order to supply the right skills to fuel the growth and continued success of a corporation, our experience is, that the HR function is given a tremendous, great opportunity with digital transformation. It offers the possibility to reposition HR in the driver seat, enabling the company to grow in the digital age.  

We see five major levers that HR can pull to benefit tremendously from digital trans-formation:

I am leaving this short summary at that high level to leave some excitement for the video transcript J  – stay tuned and we will post the entire video recording of my speech here soon. 

We are here to help – let us know if you would like us to support your digital transformation.

If you are interested in seeing the entire speech that Simon held in Barcelona, just have a look at the videos below – although they don´t feature the slides shown. If you are interested in knowing more about the content of his key note, please contact us.


Simon Schoop on Xing | Xing Profil

Simon Schoop on LinkedIn | LinkedIn Profil

Simon Schoop auf Twitter, @simscho

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