There appears to be a constant discussion about Who Owns Digital Transformation. I wrote already in the past that I think that HR needs to play a vital role in this journey. A recent survey by Talent Garden in Italy goes one step further. It arrives at defining that 32% of the interviewed people think that the Chief People Officer should drive the transformation.
As an HR, I should be flattered by such a result. However, there are a few issues. First, the survey involved 500 HR managers. It does not mean that the results are wrong but poses for sure the question of how “objective” is the point of view of the respondents.
Second, the understanding of what Digital Transformation is, pose already some concerns. 52% of the respondents to the survey thinks that Digital Transformation is just the “Digitization of processes by the introduction of new technologies”. Only 30% thinks of Digital Transformation as a new way of conducting business or managing a relationship with customers. 40% of the survey respondents admit that they don’t have clear what Digital Transformation really means.
Third, when the survey looks a bit more rooted in what HR thinks to be able to achieve in Digital Transformation, responses are again pretty limiting. At the question “What contribution can HR Bring to Digital Transformation” 34% of respondents identify “Process digitisation and change management”. 27% identifies” new People Management practices”. 23% “Employees Service & Process Digitization”.
A true role for HR
Let’s face it: HR today in most organisations doesn’t have the credibility to Own Digital Transformation. But it can lead the way, and enable the transformation by creating the necessary added value for the organisation to thrive in a new digitised world.
If I can interpret Chiara Bersano’s comment on the research done by Talent Garden: It’s our sacred role as vectors that HR should play in leading the way towards digital transformation.
I think that the work that Talent Garden is doing on the front of Digital Transformation is innovative and relevant, especially in the Italian cultural context. Their goal of developing an actual Digital HR is genuinely innovative. But we cannot forget that Digital Transformation will not be achievable without full ownership by the business in the organisation.
This is a crucial element. Also, at a recent event, we discussed what role HR should play. We need to take the lead on the cultural side of the transformation. But we don’t have to confuse this with full ownership of a change that goes down the inner DNA of most organisation. Yes, we have the tools (such as Organisation Design, and Matteo Sola recognizes this in the intro to the research) to facilitate and even orchestrate the transition. But we can only succeed if there is a genuine business commitment of all functions in the organisation.
And you? What do you think about Who Owns Digital Transformation?