Following the inauguration of Peter Estlin as the Lord Mayor of the City of London, we were delighted to hear him outline his plans to “champion the world-class financial and professional services that are based in the UK, and ensure they remain at the forefront of the digital revolution.”
The Lord Mayor has publicly stated that his focus over the next 12 months is to “shape tomorrow’s city, today.” Citing the examples of Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and Quantum Computing as ways which are transforming how businesses operate, Mr Elstin shared his desire to promote innovation and technology, champion digital skills and address digital and social inclusion.
As technology specialists, we are thrilled to hear such a public endorsement of the growing need to digitise and transform businesses. It is proof that the so-called ‘digital revolution’ is gathering speed, so we’ll be paying close attention over the next twelve months to see how the City responds to this call-to-action.
Incorporating digital skills into HR
During his speech at the Lord Mayor’s banquet last year, Mr Elstin declared his intention to “champion digital skills” and this is something we have been actively discussing for some time.
Using the HR profession as a clear example, we’ve previously spoken of the need for HR teams to develop new skills to help them cope with the changing demands of the HR profession. The last five years have seen an enormous transformation of our sector. Whereas previously, HR was consumed with data reporting, now we’re expected to be able to use our wealth of people data to analyse individual employee impact and predict future trends. As you can imagine, this isn’t an easy skill to simply acquire. It’s something which needs continual learning and development and we’d like to see the CIPD take this into account with their training and qualifications as the year progresses.
It’s all about effective communication
Of course, digitising HR departments and investing in HR systems isn’t just of benefit to that specific team, there are much wider business benefits at play.
It’s imperative that companies widen their digitising plans to encompass all areas of the business to ensure consistent levels of productivity. As technologies continue to emerge at a rapid pace, colleagues in other departments may soon see the need to adopt new systems and processes. Therefore, it makes sense to invest in the digital skills of the HR department from the very outset.If an HR department has gone through the technological transformation themselves, and been able to up-skill themselves to handle the change in responsibilities, then they will be better equipped to handle the change management processes for each subsequent department as they receive a similar technological boost.
In our view, HR practitioners will need to be able to combine their new digital skills to help make the most of new technologies throughout the business, whilst simultaneously being able to use their softer ‘people’ skills to ensure thorough communication with all employees whilst the change takes place. Investing in digital technology can be a worrying time for many employees – not just the senior management who need to see a fast ROI, but also the lower-skilled staff who may fear that new technology could replace their jobs. It’s vital that HR managers use their skills to alleviate any concerns, whilst also demonstrating their own experience and understanding of how new technologies are an asset, not a hindrance.
Technology in the City
As the Lord Mayor’s influence and agenda will primarily focus upon the financial and professional services in London, why should smaller firms outside of London take note?
Well, simply put, what we can see is a growing interest and understanding of the advantages that technology can bring. The Lord Mayor states that he wants to showcase how investing in digital skills can “help shape the UK’s future”. To us, it is clear. If larger firms are showing us that the push towards digital technologies are the way forward, then employees will need to adapt and develop the new skills required to invest in their own careers.
As younger generations join the workforce, we’ll need to take advantage of the digital skills they have already mastered. Take, Millennials and Gen X, for example – unlike older generations, they’ve grown up with computers, smart phones and social media so they will be expecting to work with various forms of technology as they enter the workplace. We’ve previously spoken of the need to make your HRIS experience relevant to Millennials and it shouldn’t be seen as a fad. The bottom line is, if a company isn’t continually evolving and developing new ways of working, they’ll simply find it increasingly difficult to attract hard-working staff with the right skills.
Looking to the future
In our view, we need to start getting excited about what technology can do for businesses. For years, we’ve used shared services with colleagues in other departments to convince them that HR is a valuable and strategic role. Now, thanks to digitisation and automation we finally have the tools to become more strategic and help our businesses grow more effectively than ever before.
At Silver Cloud HR, we’re not just specialist in HR technology selection and implementation. We can offer strategic advice on the digitisation of your business, take you through implementation and provide ongoing support to help you manage the transformation process.