By Patrice Barbedette

The businesses that thrive in today’s disruptive environment won’t be the unicorns, but the phoenixes. These are the businesses able to rebuild and transform themselves in the face of disruption. Yet how does a phoenix emerge and what traits define it? They aren’t limited by aging and customised technology systems. Instead, streamlined and efficient human capital management (HCM) helps them change direction and transform quickly.

A waste of talent

The pandemic has forced HR leaders to make very difficult but crucial decisions – who should we furlough, who can we no longer afford, whose skills will be most useful and where? Maximising your internal talent pool through HCM has never been more crucial. 

Yet data is critical to this process. Is employee information easily accessible, and do you have the tools to interrogate and analyse it? When businesses were forced into lockdown, too many HR teams had to make decisions based on data contained in disparate spreadsheets. Updates had to be keyed in manually and decisions were based on incomplete insight.

As a result, the right decisions came too late and many workers were furloughed or let go based on the jobs they did rather than the value they could create. That’s the danger when a business has a partial understanding of its staff – valuable skills that could help the business adapt and respond are overlooked when it’s needed most.

A change of pace

Even before the pandemic hit, HR leaders were struggling to work quickly and make decisions due to disjointed data and systems. Over a third of CEOs and business leaders believed their technology infrastructure was constraining knowledge management within their organisation. 

Taking HCM practices to the cloud, by contrast, boosts integration and gives everyone access to the same data and tools. HR practitioners aren’t dealing with every single entity and managing information in small portions. Instead, they have a complete, real-time overview and can make decisions rapidly.

Having payroll, compensation, and performance as parts of one unified system ensures HR data format is consistent with compensation and payroll formats. Practitioners can more easily track changes, gather richer data for analytics across the board, and extract more impactful insights through the cloud. Having this single source of truth also helps HR managers generate credible reports in real-time with the best available information.

One organisation able to utilise cloud HCM during the pandemic was British food retail association Co-op. With its employee and operational data centralised in the cloud, Co-op HR leaders were able to identify their talent gaps at the onset of the crisis. This gave them the insight and confidence to quickly hire 5,000 employees in key areas, and train 40,000 staff in a single week.

Understand, respond, reimagine

Risk exposure is a key part of HCM planning, but it’s a highly involved process requiring data from across the organisation. While the cloud provides an ideal environment for sourcing masses of relevant data, monitoring and analysing it is a Herculean effort when performed manually.

AI-driven automation is key for managing the complexity of HCM and risk assessment while delivering at speed. A unified platform with smart monitoring capabilities quickly surfaces points of risk – such as uniquely skilled employees leaving the business. With the analytical heavy lifting done, HR can focus on controlling the risk. According to Gartner, HR leaders believe that agile HR processes like this increase speed (84%), quality (75%) and reduce costs (45%).

AI and machine learning will also play key roles in helping HR teams attract, onboard and find the right person for the job. Chatbots are already proving very effective at sourcing new channels and disseminating information to candidates.

Yet AI can also greatly deepen your understanding of employees through data analysis and monitoring. As part of a hiring process, AI solutions can quickly trawl through large data sets, identify and score candidates based on their suitability for a role. HR leaders can then simply choose the best candidate for the job or task. There’s great potential for new technologies to streamline succession planning and make HCM more agile.

By migrating its communications billing and revenue management services to an autonomous cloud computing platform, Poste Italiane has been able to streamline and transform itself rapidly. Automating its billing processes has shrunk the company’s project timeline significantly and reduced its billing query response time by 30%.  

HCM transformed

HR plays an essential role in driving the success of new workforce structures and transformations. When supported by the right AI tools and cloud infrastructure, they can make decisions quickly and confidently based on data rather than instinct. When the next crisis hits – no matter what it is – they won’t be paralysed by indecision. They’ll have the insight to make decisions and the will to bring their employees with them on the journey.

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