Monday, June 3, 2013

Hey, HR, have you hugged your CIO today?

Josh Bersin recently wrote an article about why HR technology is so hot today.  These are all great reasons but all too often either IT tells HR which solutions they can use or else a charismatic CHRO drags a reluctant IT into this century. 

The result is typically incremental improvement in some areas, which is good but falls short of what is possible when HR and IT join forces. 

If you're curious about why, watch this HBR video called 'Change the Conversation, Change the Game'.  (Or, y'know, just keep reading...)

Here are a few highlights :

There are three forces changing the world of business: 1) The accelerating pace of change, where the future is no longer an extrapolation of the past; 2) Technology as a disruptive force changing how companies connect with people; 3) A new ‘authority phobic ‘ generation that expects openness, transparency and opportunity.

To be fit for future, companies must be adaptable, innovative and engaging, which is why traditional organisational models no longer work in today’s world. Too much authority is held by too few. There's too much emotional attachment to the past. It's difficult and personally risky to experiment and try new things. Business are slow to change and tend to weigh experience over new ideas and squelch initiative.

That's why here's what's top of mind for CEOs who want to do more than a bit of financial restructuring and an acquision or two:
  • If I want to run an agile, innovative, engaging company I can’t run it in the same way;
  • The new value proposition is in service, and to deliver world class service people need instant, accurate information about the people they serve.

 To succeed today, companies need to find new solutions for both organisations AND technology. These two things need to happen together, i.e., you can’t just throw some open source ‘innovation wiki’ at a traditional Management 1.0 organisation and expect innovation to ensue. Nor can you implement wide-sweeping organisational innovation without supporting it with the right technology.

Wallgreens CIO Tim Theriault spoke about being part of the ‘healthcare revolution’ and driving innovation that ‘increases revenue, lowers costs and enhances the customer experience’.  As an example of innovation that meets all three criteria, Walgreens allows customers to scan prescriptions on a mobile app and sends a text when the prescription is ready for pick up. 

Theriault also talks about changing the conversation from ‘opening more stores’ to ‘what happens in stores,’ i.e., the traditional inside out products focus evolving into an outside in services focus.  To make that shift you must empower people with the necessary information about customers in order to provide the best care and retain business. 

Whole Foods empowers people at all levels of the organization to take ownership of their part of the business with real time information on profitability for their departments and rewarding for targets met in each paycheck. Technology is used to hold everyone accountable as well as empower them to be successful with accurate, real-time information.

Bottom line: Both HR and IT often find themselves in the role of ‘order takers’ focused on keeping the lights on rather than driving true innovation. Together they can change the conversation because both new techonologies and new organisational models are needed to transform the business. 

So, have you hugged your CIO today? 

(Hey, it's a great conversation opener and you have LOTS to talk about.)

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