Digital Opportunities For HR

June 2nd 2016

How do we seamlessly weave the old and the new together while making sure that all of our valued baby boomers go along on this journey into an increasingly digitised future?

Acting on the Digital Shift

Organisations around the world are facing a paradigm shift – moving away from the world of the physical, of the tangible, into a digital future of doing work where the user interface of work is massively being disrupted. Change is happening whether we like it or not. Unless we as organisations can make the transition from the analogue physical world to the digitised virtualized future seamlessly, we’re running a serious risk.

How Do We Sell the Idea Of Digital?

Change can be tiring, and that’s why selling the idea of change is often so hard. Consider the task of selling someone on the concept of why 2016 is going to be different: Paleo diets, cross-fitness training, gluten-free eating. How does that pan out 21 days later? Change can be extremely disruptive, but it can also be very, very hard, as you know as HR professionals, to sell.

Here are three ideas on selling the idea of technology disruption to business:

1. Target Early Adopters: The iPad

One of the best case studies of early adoption of technology is the launch of the iPad. Apple thought very, very carefully about how they were going to diffuse this new innovation. Now we still don’t really know what an iPad is at this point, but because Steve (Jobs) told us we really needed one, we all bought them. And now our organisations do as well. How did they do it? Apple focused on the innovators, the 2.5% who were likely to camp outside the Apple shop for days to buy it. They then focused on the early adopters in the design of this diffusion of innovation to ensure that those who wanted to read the blogging reviews before they bought it could, and maybe had placed an option to buy one with their mates who were in sleeping bags outside of the Apple store. We were all using them via WiFi in cool cafes making the earlier majority and even the late majority wanting to buy one as well and that’s where they’re starting to reach critical mass after they crossed the chasm of the critical 16%.

So, that’s where we’re heading in the future. How do you sell IT and technology inside your organisation? Do you design the rollout of your new interfaces like this? Have you identified who the innovators and early adopters are? And have you thought about psychologically how you’re going to win across the chasm – perhaps to the board or senior management?

2. Present Ideas Beautifully

Today, we are truly living by our digital digits, and a consumerised, beautiful interface is something we’re now expecting at work. How do you show your project progressing from point A to point B? If you give me an Excel spreadsheet, sorry that is not a beautiful interface. We tend to underestimate the impact of beautiful visual design but consider this (very early) example of using visual data to effect change.

Back in the 1850s, London physician John Snow (not to be confused with Game of Thrones Jon Snow), had a theory about cholera during the 1854 outbreak. Contrary to popular belief he claimed that cholera was a water-borne, not an airborne disease. Nobody, of course, would believe him. So he started gathering and visualising some data. As he started mapping data on a map of Soho he found that 656 deaths occurred in several houses. He then saw that there were several water pumps in that particular area that people collected their water from. He realised that one of them was contaminated, and by using big data visualisation was able to go to the authorities in Soho with a beautiful visual interface of this data and within days they had shut down the pump. So, ask yourself – do you present data as beautifully or as convincingly as John Snow did? Have you considered using data in more visualised fashions to convince people of the benefits of your new HR rollout? Because this is key for your success.

3. Bring Back Some Heart- CISCO’s Valentines Message

When we’re dealing with nostalgia, we need to remember this is an affair of the heart. CISCO gives us an insight into how we might bring a little bit of the heart back into modern technology in order to convince not just rational minds, but also laggard hearts and this video is a great example. (This video was of course conveniently launched for Valentine’s Day.)

Here’s a little visualisation activity to end on. Imagine it’s 2020 and you’re looking back at today, 2016. You realise that on your watch your company went belly-up. And the question is this: What were the trends that you totally missed? What were the signals you chose to ignore? And what were the decisions, you delayed and delayed which led to this demise?

And what change would you make today to prevent this from happening?

This article was originally published on HR Tech Fest

For further reading about the future of work and the human resource industry check out these blog posts from Anders:

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