HR leaders torn between embracing technology or conducting business as usual

Dive Brief:
Some HR leaders are charting a new course for their profession through technology, but the majority are taking a cautious approach to change through inaction, new findings from KPMG’s 2018 HR Transformation survey show. According to The Future of HR 2019, a global survey of 1,200 HR leaders, forward-thinking professionals in HR are using such technology as analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and digital labor to develop the skills they’ll need to thrive in the digital era.
Among key findings in the survey, about two-thirds of the respondents agree that the HR function has undergone or is undergoing a digital change. Slightly more (70%) said they recognize the need for workforce transformation, while only 40% said they have a digital workplace at the organizational or HR level. Almost 40% said they feel “very confident” about HR’s ability to transform, but 35% said their company’s current culture is more task-oriented than innovative or experimental.
In other survey findings, 42% of respondents agree that readying the workforce for a future with AI will be one of HR’s biggest challenges during the next five years. In the next two years, 60% of those polled said they plan to invest in predictive analytics and 53% said they will invest in enhanced process automation and 47% in AI.

Dive Insight:
Unless organizations are willing to make the necessary upfront investments in technology that will allow their workplaces to advance, inaction by HR and other disciplines will likely continue. Digital inaction by many HR leaders might have to do with a lack of resources. A study by The Hackett Group found that 90% of HR executives said they believe that technology will substantially change their organizations’ operations, but less than half feel they have the resources for a digital undertaking. And 95% of HR professionals in an OutMatch survey said that predictive analytics would help their hiring and development efforts, but only a third can access the technology.

Digital tools alone might not be enough for HR leaders and their organizations to thrive and move forward in a digital era; creating a digital culture might be necessary. A Microsoft study found that merely adopting a new technology in the workplace doesn’t necessarily mean productivity will rise. The survey also found, however, that when organizations nurture a digital culture, productivity and employee engagement increase. HR leaders can take the lead in creating a culture that readily accepts, supports and expects digital change, while they learn and adopt tech skills that advance their profession and their organizations’ goals.


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