Article: HR should exploit technology to stay relevant in business

Strategic HR

HR should exploit technology to stay relevant in business

In an interaction with People Matters, Bambang Yapri, Human Capital Director at Samora Usaha Makmur, Indonesia, talks about the transition of HR in digital era and why aligning HR strategy with business strategy is critical to achieve the organization's mission.
HR should exploit technology to stay relevant in business

Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be a game changer for human resource. While the implementation of AI varies from one company and region to another, however, this should be adopted by keeping in mind the resources it has for that industry. AI is also a sexy jargon that HR people put on the table but don't really know how to start on, feels Bambang Yapri, Human Capital Director at Samora Usaha Makmur, Indonesia.

You have worked in almost all facets of the HR domain. Can you share some insights on how HR, in general, is transitioning to the next level in the digital era?

HR is transitioning from taking care of personnel admin up to its strategic role as advisor to C-Level in the business or industry. The operation excellence is a must for all HR processes to be accomplished and at the same time, HR is expecting to do a breakthrough in its own process, so that production excellence becomes the expected result for HR folks. Digital technology is the game changer for us in accelerating on solution's creation and innovation through HR Data Analytics, Machine Learning and also some simple process that used to be done manually.

At the same time, we also have challenges that HR should put into consideration in creating the future of HR role. Today we have an overflow of data and information. Therefore, the capability in looking for the right data and information and transforming it into insights is crucial. At another side of the coin, HR is also responsible for humanizing the technology and do not let it become a mechanical process that is missing its soul. Human touch in high tech era is crucial and could bring a unique proposition, therefore, technology is the enabler of employee engagement but not the only thing that HR should work at. One short comment from me, HR should stay relevant within the business and industry by using technology.

Seventy percent of CEOs expect the CHRO to be a key player in enterprise strategy, but only 55 percent say CHROs are meeting this expectation, according to Gartner. What area is HR lagging in to meet this expectation?

In short, how to stay relevant? The first thing is that HR should excel if we want to be a key player in enterprise strategy in understanding the context. This needs extra miles as it takes a multi-discipline approach, HR is not only about personnel admins, recruitment, training or industrial relation. HR is not only for those who are coming from psychology or law academic background. Continuous learning and ready for learning about business model, finance, strategic management and all aspects of enterprise strategy are essential. HR is not only taking order or answering questions from the board during the BOD meeting but also asking the right questions and giving insights The second thing is that HR should also do the continuous learning process so that can create the right content for the right context in the business and or industry they are in. HR is not immune to the necessity to do improvement in streamlining the process and contribute to the improvement or innovation of the business. HR should get more understanding about new approach in its field and how the technology can disrupt the HR's processes. The last one, HR should be able to influence or create the development of the supporting ecosystem as a holistic approach in sustainable development of the organization.

What leadership traits and competencies separate the great HR leaders from the rest?

People leadership is one of the critical areas and this can be the differentiator of HR leaders from the rest. One of the famous educators in Indonesia, who found Taman Siswa, had a famous proverb in Javanese language, Ing ngarso sung tulodo, ing madyo mangun karso, tut wuri handayani. Which translates: "(for those) in front should set an example, (for those) in the middle should raise the spirit, and (for those) behind should give encouragement". This set of leadership traits can separate the great HR Leaders from the rest. Business acumen is also one of the critical things that can differentiate the great HR Leaders. And one other thing is as a catalyst of change, so understanding of change and the nature of change is also critical

Is it important for HR leaders to build an ecosystem of people they can turn to for advice and who challenge them to move outside their comfort zone?

Yes, true, it is one of the ways to increase the organization capability by having the role of mentor to give the right direction and fill in the right mix of knowledge, skill, and wisdom. Another role is of a coach that can ignite a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires people to maximize their personal. Coaching conversation can move them outside of their comfort zone by shaking their limiting beliefs and inspire them to unlearn, learn and move beyond.

Aligning the HR strategy with the organization's business strategy is critical to achieving the organization's mission in today’s time. But it’s easier said than done. What’s your viewpoint on this?

It would not be done if HR is doing business as usual. HR reporting is not only for the sake of reporting HR data, but how to transform those data into insights, challenge ourselves to improve the data quality, and the relevance to business strategy. So once again, to stay relevant HR should put the right content in the right context and technology can be the enabler in this new process. 

Training new and existing employees can be a company’s biggest challenge, especially in a rapidly changing business environment. How can technology help streamline L&D initiatives in the digital era?

I believe, as an enabler, technology can help much in designing learning and development program. The right mix of blended learning can inspire and get the employees as the learners motivated to learn. Gamification, Online approach, Bit Size learning are some of the methods that bring the possibility to streamline the process of learning but bring a huge impact in the learning itself. High tech and high touch should be blended together so that the purpose of learning is achieved.

22% of enterprises are using artificial intelligence for talent programs, and these early adopters are more effective in every area of hiring, retention, and D&I operations than their peers, says a survey by Harris Interactive. What’s your take on this?

Artificial Intelligence in the HR field is quite new, and it is an enabler that can be a game changer as technology intervention in talent programs also. The implementation also varies from one company and region to another. However, this should be adopted by looking at its resources in each industry or region and manage the expectation of the stakeholders. As a "new" approach, AI is also a sexy jargon that HR people put on the table but not really know how to start on. Therefore the implementation of AI would need mind shift and willingness to unlearn. We can buy the technology easily but we can not implement it with the old mindset

What will be HR’s biggest challenges in the coming year?

In the coming year, as surveyed by Korn Ferry, talent crunch will be one of the biggest challenges globally and also in our region. This must be anticipated by accelerating the learning initiatives to increase the percentage of skilled talents. The triple-helix collaboration of industry, university and government can be a catalyst of this purpose and some evolve to Penta-helix collaboration between businesses, public authorities, civil society, the knowledge sector and capital (and finance).  

The change of the working process, with the intervention of technology, had made the workplace ecosystem changed. In the past, people are considered as global employees when they did a placement outside her home country, but nowadays, you do not have to move out of your home country to be considering as global employees. As technology had made it possible to get people around the globe and do the project or program cross-countries. I had my own experience to work in such circumstances and even have my superior in other countries. The other challenge is streamlining the HR processes as the economy and business is changing and finding the new form due to some situations as trade-wars, political situation, and some other issues.

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Topics: Strategic HR, #BusinessTransformation

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