One evening on July 6, 1988, fire and explosion broke out on Piper Alpha, a North Sea oil production platform off the coast of Aberdeen, Scotland. One of the superintendents at the rig, Andy Mochan, had two choices:
(1) Stay on the platform and die, or (2) Jump into the sea where the oil was already ignited and face the risk of dying if not rescued within 20 minutes.
He jumped. And he survived.
In relation to the story above, chief executive officer (CEO) of Accendo, Sharma KSK Lachu says: “If we don’t create an environment for change, humans will not change. This is because change is not something that humans can naturally embrace.”
This could not hold more truth as Mochan would likely not have jumped if he had not been in a life or death situation.
Similarly, today’s businesses are forced into a life-or-death situation due to the rise in automation and artificial intelligence, a growing gig economy, and big data. If they don’t adapt, they risk becoming irrelevant.
In light of this, businesses are beginning to see a competitive advantage in having a liquid workforce. According to Accenture, it is a workforce that is able to “rapidly adapt and change depending on the environment they find themselves in.”
What does this mean for human resources professionals, the people who are essentially leaders of the workforce?
We spoke to Sharma, who has 15 years of international experience in human resources (HR) technology under his belt, to understand the critical traits HR folks need to possess today.
1) Business acumen
Looking at the local context, Sharma says that while HR already has a “seat at the table”, there are very few HR leaders who are actually able to contribute meaningful insights during strategic discussions.
He says: “I find HR today sitting at the fork where branding and marketing used to sit 10-15 years ago where decision-making was instinct instead of insight.
“Today, branding and marketing experts can tell you exactly how to build a social media campaign that can help achieve desired results because they know how to turn data into insights.”
HR is – unfortunately – not there yet, Sharma admits. So, how we behave in the coming years will determine how relevant we will be in the future, he adds.
CEO of Leaderonomics Roshan Thiran wrote in an article last year saying that HR leaders need to possess knowledge in the areas of statistics and technology because they need to be able to make the link between analytics and human behaviour. Otherwise, big data initiatives in HR will most likely fail.
2) Acceptance that technology can help
Sharma says that people seem to be concerned with the idea of technological singularity; the creation of super-intelligent machines that have a capacity beyond the control of humans.
“This won’t happen any time soon,” he assured.
Rather, he believes in the concept of augmented intelligence, where humans and machines work hand-in-hand to push the boundaries of human performance.
For instance, machines today have the ability to analyse and interpret relevant data. HR professionals can then formulate new strategies by connecting the dots between these analyses with business goals and see how they fit into the bigger picture.
This is how HR can really earn their seat at the table, all whilst simplifying their work process.
3) Be clear on reasons to digitalise
Due to the pressure to keep up with the pace of technological advancements, companies tend to make the mistake of investing in various digital tools and technologies without first evaluating their fit within existing processes as well as the consequences of implementing them.
A 2016 study conducted by Genpact Research Institute revealed that “out of an estimated USD593bil spent yearly on digital technologies, up to US$394bil is spent on efforts that deliver insufficient ROI (return on investment)”.
Sharma advised: “It’s important for HR folks to remember that technology is an enabler for what you are trying to achieve. If your process is rubbish, technology is just going to enhance that.
If you already have a strong and clear reason to digitalise but are unsure of which tools to use that can enhance your workforce’s efficiency and productivity, Accendo may be able to help. To know more, visit www.accendo.com.my
Accendo is a local HR technology solutions company with two decades of industry know-how. They are firm believers of re-engineering people performance at work. Their award-winning tools and solutions enables their customers to adapt effectively and complement the fast-changing ASEAN market.