Total Business Magazine

HR: The Right Hand of Business IT

Businesses all around the world are facing ever increasing pressure to adapt and evolve their IT strategies to keep pace with technology to attract and maintain a productive, talented and happy workforce.

However, it’s not just as simple as starting a fresh IT strategy, particularly as many businesses at an enterprise level have decades of legacy IT to contend with. This is where, according to Dan Power, UK regional manager at OneLogin, HR steps in.

The goal of a successful digital transformation and digital security strategy is to ensure employees have the right access to the right information and applications from the right location and devices, at the right time. It is imperative that employees have access to the right systems, so they can hit the ground running and are productive from day one. As the Human Resources (HR) department has access to employee information, regarding changes to their employment i.e. change in roles (promotions etc.) and also if an employee is leaving the company – placing HR in the key position of power when it comes to systems on-boarding and off-boarding.

In addition to visibility of employee movements and needs, HR is also one of the most strategic roles within a company, as they tend to be the right hand to the CEO and seen as an advisor to the organisation’s leadership team, informing decision-making processes and resulting decisions. A great HR advisor must be a change champion who has the agility and ability to disrupt, pivot and try new things, just like an entrepreneur.

A combination of HR’s visibility over a company and their advisory position to senior leadership has resulted in an IT power shift. The focus has moved from the traditional IT decision makers into the hands of the HR department, who are now expected to manage IT operations to ensure efficiencies and effective change management, as opposed to the traditional IT department. However, with great power come great responsibilities.

IT vs. Employee Retention

While the entire workplace has become accustomed to living and working alongside technology, Millennials are the first generation to drive digital transformation in the workplace. This generation is now infiltrating management level, with Generation Z hot on their heels and born into a world they have never known without technology.

For many organisations, internal communications is fragmented and has begun to impact wider company innovation and digital transformation. Cloud migration is a perfect example; economic savings are seldom realised while the benefits of driving business momentum and IT agility are under appreciated due to lack of internal communications to decipher the business need.

It is important that HR understands the influence of IT in the workplace and must consider the benefit of a potential solution to employees. To do so, HR must question how a solution will continue to facilitate employees in the future as their demands grow, how it will attract and retain valuable employees and whether the solution will demonstrate trust or alienate employees overall. At the end of the day, people are the driving power of any company, and if the company doesn’t demonstrate a people first approach when it comes to IT, the businesses bottom line with ultimately suffer.

A successful IT strategy should focus on harnessing IT that will upskill, retain and enable a positive working environment. This includes the emphasis that a business places on IT and the role of IT within its infrastructure. If a business is using inefficient outdated systems, this will in turn affect employee’s productivity and won’t promote a flexible working environment, talented millennial staff will simply go to the competitors who are. In fact, 42% of millennials are likely to quit a job if the technology they have available to them is substandard[1]. Across most consumer demographics, but especially millennials, most people complain that the technology they have at “home” is more modern and more valuable than the technology they have in the workplace.

If HR is perhaps slow to respond to internal IT requests or doesn’t see the value in the use of new IT, such as cloud-based applications, employees will circumnavigate the approval process and simply purchase the IT they need or alternatively move to a company that can. Welcome the nightmare that is Shadow IT. Cisco recently found between 17 and 20 times more cloud applications running in companies than their IT departments had estimated.

The role of HR in the future of business IT and business growth

HR has now become a central corporate south of truth and has a responsibility to drive digital adoption to maintain staff. While HR departments are finding themselves frantically trying to keep IT and employees both happy, the volume of data businesses are producing is growing exponentially and the pace of technology is accelerating. As IoT (Internet of Things) reaches upwards of 163 zettabytes will be collected by 2025[2], new challenges will continue to arise around how businesses secure and analyse data to benefit the business.

Speed, intelligence and agility will ultimately define the new digital dawn. Great tech is not just about business enablement, but business empowerment and this is what defines digital transformation. With HR well positioned between the people and the management of businesses, they are well placed to inform IT decision making processes but also IT management. For example, Identity and Access Management is used by companies to make sure the right people have the right access to the right applications at the right time and from the right location and the right devices. HR is imperative to the smooth running of IAM tools, as they know when people’s’ roles change or even when they decided to leave the company. HR then updates internal employee records, which they already do, which triggers automatic updates to user provisioning rules. This includes revoking an employee’s access rights to the corporate network to ensure they are appropriately off-boarded from every application as soon as they leave the company. A simple act of HR updating IAM user provisioning saves IT departments hours of having to individually update a user’s access rights manually for each and every corporate application, the same goes for when a user leaves the company.

Central to empowering HR and IT to work together seamlessly is digital cohesion; seamlessly integrating the power of computing and analytics to harness the full capabilities of the modern IT enabled workplace. The objective is to foster more convenience and applied decision making that maximises business value and minimises the mundane. At the end of the day, the critical issue is about time, and not necessarily money in the same respect. The era of digital business is about accelerating business momentum and business agility by orchestrating around the cloud and mobile. Equally, at its core, a digital business is heavily dependent upon analytics, new security models and automation.

Without harnessing the value of cloud and mobile, businesses will lose out on talent. Never has the use of technology to attract and retain great talent been so important. To ensure digital transformation remains an ongoing business priority, HR must become the central source of truth when it comes to IT.

[1] https://www.dell.com/learn/us/en/uscorp1/press-releases/2016-07-18-future-workforce-study-provides-key-insights

[2] https://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewcave/2017/04/13/what-will-we-do-when-the-worlds-data-hits-163-zettabytes-in-2025/#d13590a349ab

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