Article: We are already digital, will continue to explore new technologies: Roche’s Roelof Kistemaker

Strategic HR

We are already digital, will continue to explore new technologies: Roche’s Roelof Kistemaker

The majority of our processes and document management are now digitized at Roche. Besides, we have successfully introduced chatbots in various areas, says Roelof Kistemaker, Chapter Lead People Insights & Technology, Roche, in an interaction with People Matters.
We are already digital, will continue to explore new technologies: Roche’s Roelof Kistemaker

Roelof Kistemaker joined the pensions and employee benefits industry some 35 years ago. For most of this period, he worked for Aon Hewitt in various roles. He also spent three years in Ireland where he worked as a Pension Consultant for Coyle Hamilton Willis. 

In July 2005, he joined Roche in Switzerland. In his current position as Chapter Lead for People Insights & Technology, he is responsible for the Group’s People & Culture Technology, Insights and Data Governance strategy and related programs. He is a member of the Roche Group People & Culture Enabling Team. 

He has a diploma from the Dutch Actuarial Institute, an EMBA from the EU Business School, and is a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development in the United Kingdom.

Here are the excerpts from the interview.

How do you see the larger digital transformation initiatives at this point amid the crisis? What does this overnight transformation of businesses mean for the future?

Roche was already on a journey to become more digital. The crisis has accelerated that journey as an additional catalyst. The importance of adopting digital work practices became even more evident and we will therefore further accelerate our digital transformation.   

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What's the HR tech landscape in your organization like? Have you deployed any new tech solutions for HR?

Our efforts over the past few years in adopting digital solutions for People & Culture at Roche, especially our move from on-premise to cloud-based platforms, have helped us live in to our vision of “Anyone working Anytime, Anywhere from Any device”. The last six months have demonstrated that, as a P&C organization, we have been able to continue to pay, hire, move, and develop employees without disruption.  

Are you planning to leverage new-age tech solutions such as AI and blockchain?  

AI and Machine Learning are beginning to be used in several of our HR Practices and IT solutions. Examples are recommendation engines within our Learning Management System or predictive modeling in a variety of areas (e.g. attrition analysis or compensation/leveling). Some of our vendors are starting to leverage innovative blockchain technologies to securely issue and verify credentials. 

How are you transforming your HR function in terms of policies and processes?

The majority of our processes and document management is now digitized at Roche. In addition, we have successfully introduced chatbots in various areas. We will continue to explore new digital technologies to further increase impact and improve employee and manager experience. 

Can you share some insights from real-life examples of how large organizations are leveraging HR technologies – be it in the areas of AI, people analytics, talent acquisition tech, or RPA?

  • Using text and sentiment analysis for employee engagement surveys
  • Using machine learning to recommend training
  • Using chatbots to answers questions from employees (e.g. participants in our Employee Share Purchase Program)
  • Use predictive analytics to determine job leveling, based on a range of parameters

AI is already used today in recruiting, HR service delivery and L&D. Do you see new use cases of AI in HR?

One area which so far has relied on manual effort and subjective interpretation is Rewards. Whether it is the process of survey submissions, job matching, or job leveling, AI can bring significant benefits to making these processes more efficient and more reliable. Given the high volume of data, this area is ideally suited for a digital transformation. Another area is the use of skills in matching employees with opportunities. The gig economy and the introduction of agile ways of working require us to think differently about how talent flows to where it can have the highest impact. Technology can play a major role in this.

What does the HR Tech market in the COVID-19 era look like? Do you see service providers stepping up their games to address the new market needs amid this crisis? 

Remote working is here to stay. The vast majority of employees will likely continue to work from home to a much larger extent than before. This will fundamentally change how we hire, engage, assess, manage, and interact with employees and candidates and how people collaborate. Vendors will need to ensure that their technologies are adapted to meet the needs of these changing ways of working, that collaboration tools from different vendors can be integrated into existing HR solutions to allow collaboration across all time zones.

For the post-pandemic world, do you think the role of a successful leader will change? Will HR have a role to play here?

Leading remotely requires very different leadership skills. More than ever, employees will need to be assessed on their contribution, which is not measured by how many hours they work in the office. Leaders will have to empower their people and trust them to make the right decisions. Leaders will have to make extra efforts to maintain meaningful relationships with their people. And given the challenges in maintaining a healthy work-life balance, managers need to invest extra time in the wellbeing of their employees and themselves.  

What do you think the future holds for HR post the pandemic?

The role of People & Culture in helping organizations be successful will only increase. It does require HR professionals to embrace new technologies and become more data-savvy. Let’s keep in mind that the role of People & Culture goes far beyond the adoption of technology and has been increasingly important, for example in establishing agile working techniques.

Read more such stories from the November 2020 issue of our e-magazine on 'The State of Digital HR

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Topics: Strategic HR, #HybridWorkplace

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