Navigating Digital Transformation: Insights from Malaysia HR Tech Conference and Expo 2024 (Part 1)

Apr 23, 2024 8 Min Read
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Workforce 2.0: Innovations in HR Tech

The landscape of digital transformation has shifted dramatically today, marking a pivotal moment for HR professionals across various industries.  Malaysia HR Tech Conference & Expo 2024 (“HR Tech Expo”) held recently, served as a beacon of insight and innovation in this evolving era. The HR Tech Expo 2024 was organised by Leaderonomics and Malaysia HR Forum. Mr. Arulkumar Singaraveloo, CEO of Malaysia HR Forum,  set the stage for two days of intensive exploration. He emphasised the critical role of HR professionals in driving digital transformation, from recruitment to performance management and employee engagement. Arulkumar's opening remarks underscored the abundance of solutions available for every operational challenge, urging attendees to leverage the resources at their disposal for growth and success, all aimed at empowering them to become architects of change within their organisations. With over 2700 sign-ups for the conference, it's evident that professionals are recognising the need to embrace technological solutions to address operational challenges effectively.

Wan Yon Shahima Wan Othman, Chief Customer Officer of HRD Corp, highlighted the indispensable role of HR in navigating the seismic shifts brought about by the pandemic. She emphasised the importance of embracing  artificial intelligence (“AI”) in HR functions, blending technology seamlessly into the fabric of organisational operations for enhanced process efficiency. The call to action was clear: HR must transcend its traditional boundaries, evolve from carrying out an administrative function to being a strategic business partner in organisational transformation.

However, there remains a gap in preparing employees for this digital transformation, underscoring the importance of upskilling initiatives. The keynote address by Wan Yon Shahima shed light on HRD Corp's pivotal role in realising Malaysia's vision of achieving a 35% skilled workforce by 2025. 

As we delve into the speeches and pitches delivered at the HR Tech, we're confronted with a profound reality: the landscape of human resources is undergoing a radical transformation. The COVID-19 pandemic has acted as a catalyst, accelerating the urgency for digital transformation from a mere choice to an imperative for survival and growth. Amidst this backdrop, HR professionals find themselves at the forefront, tasked with navigating this evolving terrain.

Roshan Thiran, CEO of Leaderonomics then moved the conversation into the paradoxes facing HR professionals – balancing business needs with employee welfare, navigating hierarchical structures while fostering a culture of collaboration, and embracing technology while retaining human-centric approaches. It became evident that success lies in leveraging technology to gain insights into employee behaviour and preferences while curating personalised experiences that drive engagement and performance.

With the complexities and paradoxes of modern HR leadership, the HR Tech Expo offered various innovative solutions that empower HR professionals to navigate these challenges effectively. Here are just a few innovative solutions shared at HR Tech Expo.

Innovative HR solutions and technologies 

  • Coursera. Coursera empowers organisations to upscale their teams efficiently and cost-effectively with an extensive catalogue including MBA-level content and specialised courses from industry giants like Microsoft. By leveraging AI-generated content and top-quality videos, organisations can swiftly deploy comprehensive training programs to address evolving skill demands. Coursera's latest initiative, according to Wilson Tan is the Generative AI Academy which endeavours to democratise access to AI knowledge, catering to both employees and senior leaders. 
  • ABA Traits. Do we truly understand our strengths and weaknesses as employees? Acknowledging the complexity of talent optimisation, Sharmila Thiagarajan introduced a comprehensive business assessment tool designed to identify and address organisational talent gaps effectively. ABA Traits provides detailed assessments and intuitive reporting, categorised into actionable insights. By leveraging colour-coded indicators, organisations can pinpoint areas for improvement and capitalise on existing strengths, driving performance and engagement.
  • EQWIP. EQWIP equips the workforce for success  through strategic learning initiatives, for continuous growth and development. EQWIP's diverse offerings, includes assessment solutions, blended learning programs, content curation, and consultancy services. Vivian Po's impassioned plea for organisations to embrace a culture of lifelong learning resonates deeply, underscoring the transformative power of strategic talent development initiatives.
  • Pulsifi. Christine Sterk, takes the stage with a powerful message about the role of data-driven insights in talent management. Sterk captivates the audience with her insightful commentary on the pervasive biases and flawed decision-making processes that plague traditional talent management practices. Drawing parallels between sports analytics and workforce optimisation, Sterk introduces Pulsifi's innovative approach to talent matching and personalised learning by harnessing the power of AI and data analytics.
  • Jobstreet by SEEK - Revolutionising Talent Acquisition – “Better Matches, Better Experience with Better Advice”. Likening AI to a car with data as its fuel, Vic Sithasanan opined that  just as a car needs high-quality fuel to run efficiently, AI systems require vast amounts of quality data to make accurate predictions and recommendations. Sithasanan elucidated how AI enhances various facets of the hiring process. Market insights derived from AI algorithms enable businesses to understand supply and demand dynamics, facilitating informed decision-making in recruitment strategies. Acknowledging the evolving nature of careers, Sithasanan emphasised AI's role in facilitating career transitions and providing credibility verification. AI-driven analytics empower employers to monitor ad performance, manage recruitment spend effectively, and benchmark against competitors, thereby optimising recruitment strategies.
  • Happily.ai - Employee Intelligence. Do we truly understand how our employees are faring, and more importantly, how can we leverage this understanding to enhance workplace outcomes and employee well-being? Tareef Jafferi emphasised the need to humanise data collection processes and to view employees as living, breathing entities striving to contribute positively to their workplaces. Highlighting the flaws of conventional engagement surveys, Jafferi introduced a paradigm shift towards real-time data collection through digital pulse surveys. By deploying tools that gather timely insights, organisations can gain a nuanced understanding of employee sentiments, proactively address emerging issues, predict and influence employee behaviours more effectively, leading to tangible improvements in engagement and performance.

Discover: How Can Managers Use AI to Find The Right People?

Building a Courageous Tech-Driven Culture: Insights from Karin Hurt

In her enlightening sharing, Karin Hurt, CEO of Let's Grow Leaders, emphasises the importance of fostering a courageous culture in today's tech-driven workplaces. She defines a courageous culture as one that empowers individuals to share ideas and best practices without fear of judgment. Karin identifies common barriers to innovation, such as lack of encouragement and scepticism, and offers strategies for overcoming them.

Firstly, she stresses the importance of psychological safety, where team members feel safe to express themselves authentically. Clear communication is also vital for aligning team members towards common goals, with specific questions facilitating actionable insights. Encouraging curiosity allows teams to explore problems from various angles and generate innovative solutions. Lastly, Karin emphasises the significance of leaders responding with regard, expressing gratitude for contributions and providing transparent feedback.

Overall, Karin's insights highlights the transformative power of cultivating a fearless tech-driven culture, where open communication, curiosity, and respect are valued, leading to remarkable outcomes for organisations.

Digitising Rewards and Employee Engagement: Insights from Omar Hadoui

Omar Hadoui's insights shed light on the crucial intersection of technology, employee engagement, and digitalising rewards. Today, digitising rewards and recognition has become vital for organisations to remain competitive. He stressed the importance of fostering a culture of reciprocity, where employees feel valued and appreciated.

Omar identified five key factors driving employee engagement: ownership, growth, rewards, a frictionless environment, and collaborative teamwork. These factors, he argued, should be central to every organisation's strategy for future success.

Sharing a client success story, Omar showcased the power of incentivising employees (to identify market opportunities), which lead to significant revenue growth. Omar highlighted that digitalising rewards and employee engagement is not merely a technology purchase but a strategic imperative towards profitability in the digital age.

Designing A Comprehensive Digital Employee Experience: Insights by David Madhan

With a staggering loss of $8.8 trillion in productivity attributed to employee disengagement in 2022, Madhan highlighted the pivotal role of employee engagement in organisational success.

He emphasised that employee engagement depends on the experiences created by organisations, managers, and team members. As the workforce grows increasingly diverse, spanning multiple generations, HR faces the challenge of effectively managing this diversity, especially with Gen Alpha poised to enter the workforce with advanced digital skills and high expectations.

At the heart of HR's mission is the pursuit of sustainability, which Madhan defined as meeting current needs while anticipating and addressing future challenges. This begins with prioritising people in organisational strategies, recognising their role in driving revenue and solving business problems.

Madhan underscored the importance of designing a holistic people experience, encompassing every interaction within and outside the organisation. HR's role extends beyond traditional functions to include marketing skills in effectively portraying the organisation's brand.

He introduced the concept of a People Experience Platform, outlining the 3C framework: Contemporary, Contextual, and Composable. This platform aims to design a complete people experience that is modern, relevant, and adaptable to individual needs and roles.

Madhan emphasised the need for HR to adopt predictive, collaborative, and vigilant approaches in designing and delivering great people experiences. By leveraging technology and insights, HR can anticipate employee needs, provide relevant information proactively, and adapt to changing circumstances effectively. Madhan stressed the importance of placing people at the center of their strategies and embracing innovation and personalisation to cultivate an engaged, productive and resilient workforces.

Leadership and Growth

Dr. Avnesh Ratnanesan provided valuable insights into the intricacies of employee experience and leadership in the digital era. He introduced the concept of the "leaders universe," simplifying its complexity into three essential steps: aligning leaders, clarifying problem statements, and leveraging the voices of the workforce.

With over 25 years of experience, Dr. Avi emphasised the enduring impact of transformative ideas, urging HR professionals to adapt and innovate amidst rapid technological advancements. He highlighted the necessity of adopting a transformational mindset to navigate evolving technologies.

Using storytelling, he shared personal anecdotes to underscore the importance of people-centric leadership in driving organisational success, referencing research findings that prioritise employee experience. He addressed common challenges faced by HR leaders in Malaysia, emphasising the role of psychological safety in fostering well-being and success.

In conclusion, Dr. Avi offered a roadmap for HR professionals. In order to navigate the digital age, organisations must emphasise employee experience and effective leadership. By embracing innovation, fostering psychological safety, and leveraging data-driven insights, organisations can embark on a transformative journey towards sustainable growth and excellence.

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Lead Editor leaderonomics.com

Kiran Tuljaram, the Lead Editor at Leaderonomics, brings a wealth of experience to her role. With a background as a trained lawyer, she dedicated nearly a decade to the banking industry before embarking on her entrepreneurial journey. Following her tenure as a Legal Manager at a bank, Kiran founded and successfully ran multiple businesses, including the establishment of her own fashion accessories label. Balancing her entrepreneurial endeavours, Kiran is also a devoted mother to three girls. Her varied background in banking, motherhood, employment, occasional social work, and managing director in her business has provided her with invaluable insights and a unique perspective on the critical importance of leadership within organisations.

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