How can HR take advantage of digital disruption?

The very mention of the phrase digital disruption can bring a sense of apprehension to many business professionals and HR is no exception. However, with the right mindset, technology can radically improve HR processes across the board and offer benefits to both workers and employers.

What does digital disruption mean for Australia?

According to Deloitte, the Australian economy has already seen major changes due to a number of emerging innovations. 

The urgency to address the next wave of technological change is dependant on the industry a company is in. Deloitte's report categorised sectors based on how rapidly disruption will affect firms and to what extent. 

Industries that were pegged for both fast and impactive change included finance, information and communications technology, retail and media. HR professionals in these sectors especially should prepare themselves for oncoming shifts in their operating environment.  

Consulting and outsourcing firm Accenture believe that in the future, HR will start to closely resemble a marketing department. Rather than relying on pre-established management models, HR professionals will become increasingly more reliant on data analysis for solving problems. Seeking ITIL training may be useful in dealing with growing amounts of information.            

HR professionals will need to become accustomed to data analysis.HR professionals will need to become accustomed to data analysis.

HR employees will also work more closely with other parts of the business, including the IT department. This is due to flattening organisational structures and less rigidly defined job roles. 

Lack of software holding HR back

According to an Advanced Business Solution's survey, 73 per cent of HR employees believe that analytics software is important for strategic decision making. However, only 17 per cent have access to the relevant programmes needed.

HR was also the least likely to understand the nuances of this software, highlighting the need for IT governance training to evaluate risks and possible management issues. Out of the HR professionals surveyed, 30 per cent didn't know the difference between business intelligence systems and analytic systems.

"Without the right technology in place, HR departments will struggle to effectively nurture the talent of employees and obtain vital information, which can be transformed into actionable insight to help their company obtain a competitive edge," said Simon Fowler, managing director of Advanced Business Solutions.

As HR departments will likely become more involved with technology, it is vital that business leaders prepare their professionals early. Through improved IT literacy and understanding of how programs can be applied to their pre-existing tasks, HR employees will be better prepared for the future.

Addressing security concerns

Despite the many benefits that technology can bring to the HR department, it is also important to be aware of potential security concerns.

HR professionals were rated as the second-most likely department to cause a security issue.

In a survey conducted by security technology company Clearswift, global data security professionals were asked which parts of a company poised the biggest security risk.  HR professionals were rated as the second-most likely department to cause a security issue, with 42 per cent of respondents highlighting this risk area. 

There were two main issues that affected HR security; a particularly sensitive database and a lack of universal knowledge regarding proper security.

Heath Davies, chief executive at Clearswift, explained that HR intermediaries presented the biggest risk to a company.

"Middle aged, middle managers [have] access to the data but no obvious stake in the consequences of losing it. They are also more likely to be under time and financial pressure, and so may be more inclined to take risks," he said. 

Investing in information security training courses for your HR intermediaries may be a useful solution as the workplace digitises. 

Although technology will spur many changes in the HR department, the right training can help make sense of this new environment. With a strong IT knowledge, this particular area of business will excel in the future.