If you travel at all, think about how the nature of a hotel stay has changed in the last decade. Guests today demand speed in securing, confirming and managing reservations.  Travelers are largely technology astute, self-sufficient individuals – who expect to the ability to connect multiple devices during their stay, mobile check-in and check-out capabilities, and a digital concierge.  During their stay, clients will evaluate their stay in very public forums.  Rapid response times, connectivity and a keen sense of interpersonal customer service are essential in the digitally transformed travel industry. That’s right. It’s not all about the technology.


MikeEttlingsm.jpg“With business model disruption comes people disruption,” says Mike Ettling, President of SAP SuccessFactors, “and people disruption can be positive or negative.”  Success in a digitally transforming workplace is going to require Human Resource leadership in a way we have not seen in the past.  “HR,” says Mike, “will no longer exist for it’s own sake.”  Every CEO of successful organizations knows their company needs to put people first because performance of the organization depends on people. 


Are your employees “all in”? Employee engagement is absolutely essential, and today that engagement is created by more than a competitive compensation and benefits package.


Yet, employees step through the door of most workplaces and go backwards in time in terms of the technology they will use.  Frustrating. And the frustration knows no age. Sure, we have the younger generation who grew up on 3g connectivity.  But a large portion of the workforce – regardless of age – is equally engrossed in our digital economy.  For many, a cell phone’s internet connectivity is the primary way they get things done – read email, find a restaurant, converse with friends, book a ride or check in for a flight.  Why isn’t it as easy to get things done at work?


  • Simplify. Processes in many workplaces continue to be bureaucratic and complex.  Simplification comes both as a result of and as the impetus for change.  For example, tools like SAP’s new Intelligent Services can enable a world that is not totally unhinged by one worker’s unexpected absence.  At the same time, that worker’s tasks are more easily automated by extracting unnecessary data and steps.  Imagine an HR career center that does not get sidetracked by one recruiter’s untimely absence.


  • Empathize. Set a vibe in your organization that creates and maintains engagement. Give employees a sense of purpose.  Lars Dalgaard built an organization that epitomized this value with SuccessFactors slogan “It’s time to love work again.”  Today, Mike tells us, SAP SuccessFactors creates energy with the phrase “Success is simply human.”  Sure, SAP is a technology company, but everything they do is about enabling human success.  How do you find a vibe that excites your company and then how do you execute on that vibe?  Talk to others. Visit other companies, Mike recommends. Feel what an all-in company is like.


  • Culturize. Don’t miss the opportunity for change. Digitization, says Mike, is not going to wait for us.  It will move full steam – er, full gigabytes – ahead. Those of us not ready for the rapid changes and massive opportunities that await us in our very near future will be left behind. We probably need to do some of the same things we’ve always done as an HR department, but don’t miss the chance to do things differently.  Talent reviews are one example. Today, it’s a rear view mirror approach – looking at how talent performed in the past. We need to adapt that, counsels Mike, to a more current process where we are regularly looking not as much as what talent we have as what talent we will need in the future.     


So much of our success in the Fourth Industrial Revolution depends on Human Resources being more than administrators. It’s our time in HR!  Time to step up to the plate and offer innovative solutions instead of waiting to execute what the CEO and CFO have architected for the company.  Be part of the business.  Liberate yourself from the shackles of compliance and process. Map out your company’s future needs and forward march!



Listen to a replay of the webinar recording with Mike Ettling on Preparing HR to Meet the Needs of a Digitally Transformed Workforce. This content qualifies listeners to earn one SHRM Professional Development Cr