How HR and Digital Transformation are Closely Related

Technological disruption is a given in the world of business, across its many dimensions. And in this scenario, the connection between HR and digital transformation is undeniable. Deloitte research suggests an increase of 25 percent in digital transformation budgets in 2021, and HR teams looking to capture the benefits of automation, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and much more need to step up.

HR and digital transformation

Why is digital transformation important?

An outcome and a process, an evolution and a revolution, digital transformation is more than moving analog systems to digital and bringing in more technology to everyday business processes. HR professionals must ensure an accompanying transformation in the mindset and culture of the organization.

Digitization, digitalization, and digital transformation are very different, yet are often used interchangeably, and wrongly so. Here are the differences:

  • Digitization: A shift to digital processes from manual processes
  • Digitalization: Changing organizational functioning such that the organization uses digital tools in its day-to-day operations i.e. running the business with technology.
  • Digital transformation: Covers both digitization and digitalization; includes not just process automation but process rationalization and elimination of manual tasks not required in a digital organization; looks to use organization-wide mindset changes to deploy technology to efficiently tackle the identified problems

What does the digital transformation of HR aim at?

The goals of digital HR are many:

  • Reduce time spent on manual, repetitive tasks by automating processes
  • Spend more time on creating strong strategies and thereby boost the bottom line
  • Bring about an excellent employee experience

How can HR help the digital transformation of business?

Along with transforming the operations of the HR team, HR professionals must aid the digital transformation of the entire organization. People are the most critical asset of an organization and any such transformational initiative, especially one at such scale, cannot succeed without support from the people. HR is in charge of the human experience at the workplace, thereby driving digital transformation initiatives. HR must focus on creating the right culture and changing mindsets – the human aspects of digital transformation.

HR teams play the following roles in digital transformation:

  • Using automation and data-driven digital processes to transform HR operations
  • Leading digital evolution and transformation of organizations in collaboration with IT teams by boosting productivity and improving workforce processes through digital mindsets in empowered employees

Is it important to treat employees as consumers?

In their personal lives, employees are used to and appreciative of consumer experiences, such as interacting with chatbots to complain about product or service deliveries. However, in the workplace, there could be the fear that data shared with the chatbot could be shared with those not privy to the discussion or could be used against them, or that the chatbot could take away their own employment.

A key part of the acceptance of new technology is a change in behavior. People make the business successful, and getting them on board is intrinsic to the success of the digital transformation. Effective, engaging, and fun learning initiatives are a good way to get employees on board for digital transformation, showing them how the hr technology helps and why they should embrace it. Other positives include:

  • Speed of getting work done
  • Ease and simplicity of use
  • Freeing up time for creative tasks and getting rid of repetitive tasks
  • Preserving the identity of respondents by looking only at overall organizational trends

What are the steps to take for digitally transforming HR?

To successfully enable digital HR and truly bring about the benefits of the digital transformation of HR, there must be a clear statement of why it is needed and how its success can be measured. Here are the steps to the proper digital transformation of HR:

  • Clear goal definition: Such an initiative is useful if it makes things simpler for all individuals who are part of the process i.e. the end-user must see a clear benefit. The goal should be measurable and should have a clear financial benefit.
  • Proper delineation of responsibilities: The right people must helm transformation initiatives, along with the proper tools being in place. Line managers, for instance, must be a part as they directly deal with employees. Additional people may need to be brought in.
  • Setting a time frame: New processes and tools must be evaluated against a set time period to see if they are worth the effort.
  • Understanding processes to be substituted digitally: Certain processes will be eliminated by digital HR, for which management itself may need to be reorganized and even strategic inputs will not be subject to hierarchical processes and structure.
  • Getting a buy-in from top management: Give meaningful reasons to leadership to invest in digital transformation.
  • Preparing teams for change: Start with pilot projects and apply the learnings to company-wide rollouts.
  • Creating digitalization culture: Use automated solutions to enhance human capabilities.

Which challenges get in the way of HR digital transformation?

HR and digital transformation often face challenges that affect a smooth rollout. These include the following:

  • Poor agility in moving to digital upgrades
  • Opposition from the C-suite
  • Low expertise in spearheading digital transformation
  • Insufficient budgets
  • Unclear digital strategies


Digital transformation is aimed at boosting the agility of an organization in the digital era. HR plays a key role in prepping the organization and its people to adopt the technology properly and at the right time.

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