John Chamber, Executive Chairman of Cisco, once said, “At least 40 percent of all the business will die in next ten years if they don’t figure out how to change their entire company to accommodate new technologies.”
Technology is embedded in every part of the business such as retail, managing people or doing business. Duncan Hewett, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Asia Pacific and Japan, VMware said, “Technology is a critical element for all the business that we do.”
The changing workplace
Being able to bring a tremendous change in the organization or the lives of the people, technology also has the other side which concerns the HR Heads.
Goh Swee Chen, Former Chairman, Shell Companies, Singapore shared an example from the book ‘The World is Flat.’ She said no one has to be geography bound when the concerned work can be done digitally.
Niraj Jain, Group CFO, Kanmo Group, Indonesia highlighted the modern customer and employee reaction. According to him the real threat and opportunity in technology disruption actually lie in the evolution of customers and employees as well.
“The employees, especially the millennials, expect more convenience, smarter ways to work and they are continuously looking for a change and the C-suite needs to drive those changes and enable them to work smarter,” said Jain.
While on the one hand, technology is becoming a game-changer, on the other hand, the availability of technology for 24*7 is creating a new challenge. For example, Japan announced work stall innovation and people had to manage work-life balance.
Technology has changed the way businesses are done and customers and employees are treated. But it has also impacted the leadership, a leader doesn’t react or behave in the same manner as she/he used to ten years ago.
“Leaders now need to embrace change themselves and then they need to foster a culture of change in the organizations so that their team can accept those changes,” Niraj Jain, Group CFO, Kanmo Group, Indonesia.
Experts highlighted that a few years back when the technology bug didn’t disrupt the entire ecosystem, Organizations used to come up with a three or five years plan with a particular strategy and that would work well. But the entire scenario has been changed. Currently, companies do come with five or three years plans but it is amended every now and then according to the marketplace demand.
Adapt to change
Sharing her experience Goh Swee Chen said, “Technology can really become an opportunity if we really enable it throughout the organization.”
Sharing an example of her previous company Shell, she said the company was in constant search of technology to drive up the business value. Shell started as an oil company and with time passes the company has transformed itself into an energy solutions provider.
The leaders of tomorrow need to see technology as an opportunity and how the leaders broaden their mind. Staying with the conventional line of the businesses will not work out. Five years from now it’ll be extremely difficult to say that you are in the manufacturing sector, oil and gas sector or retail sector because technology will make those lines blurred.
Key competencies for the leaders
The current role of C-suite leaders and employees demand a lot of competencies to grow in the business for the long run. Experts highlighted some of the key elements a leader should have.
“I think the willingness to change, learn and unlearn and expanding the horizon are three key competencies that is highly required,” said Niraj Jain.
Goh Swee Chen feels that getting tech-savvy and makes use of all the mechanism that is available and convey to your employees what you represent as a leader and how you want to drive the organization.
Being reclusive, dynamic, single charismatic leader doesn’t work anymore the leader needs to be inclusive and has to build own personal well-being.
Role of HR in transforming the organization
Many organizations and their employees believe that HR Managers have some magic wand with them and that’s how they manage the workforce. The industry leaders expect their HR heads to have a magic wand.
“HR should find new ways to transform and create situations that allow people to talk and discuss issues and make everything transparent,” said Duncan Hewett.
While the former Shell chief feels that HRs should look the way they recruit people, when they look for individuals they fill positions and that’s quite a short term view and if they emphasize on assessing the attitude of the individual it will be a game changer.
Indonesia based CFO thinks innovation is the key in every prospect but imitation is an art. “I think HR should copy and enhance it and then implement it for the better of the organization.”
The above-mentioned speakers were sharing their views on the topic ‘Leading in the Digital Age - A View from the Top’ at Asia’s largest HR Technology Conference ‘TECHR Singapore’ in Marina Bay Sands, Singapore.
Image Caption- (LtoR) Niraj Jain, Group CFO, Kanmo Group, Indonesia, Goh Swee Chen, Former Chairman, Shell Companies, Duncan Hewett, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Asia Pacific and Japan, VMware and Su-Yen Wong, Founder & CEO, Bronze Phoenix.