July 19, 2018

What every HR leader should know about enterprise acceleration

People are key to an organization’s speed of change. So HR and C-suite leaders need to adjust their approaches to how they maintain and elevate people skills. Here, Constellation Research VP and principal analyst Holger Mueller muses on key areas of focus to move faster.

Holger Mueller

Holger Mueller is VP and Principal Analyst for Constellation Research covering Next Generation Apps and Human Capital Management. Holger provides strategy and counsel to key clients, including Chief Information Officers, Chief Technology Officers, Chief Product Officers, Chief HR Officers, investment analysts, venture capitalists, sell side firms and technology buyers.

This blog was originally published in full on the Constellation Research website.

Enterprises have always been faced with competition –  it is a key mechanic of success in the free market economy. But the need for adopting and reacting to the competition and creating new creative strategies has never been as high as it is today. Digital transformation has substantially changed the game here, forcing enterprises to move faster towards a new objective, while having less room than ever for error. Constellation Research has shown that in digitally transformed industries, the leaders are taking more than 70% of revenue and over 77% of profit. This means the risk of being left behind is bigger than ever before. What’s worse, when left behind, it is almost impossible to catch up.

As a consequence, what matters for an enterprise leader is how much their enterprise can accelerate as a unit. It is impossible and unrealistic for an enterprise to catch all the successful trends that become relevant in an early phase, so it is even more important that CxOs look at the speed to at which their enterprise can adopt to challenges thrown at them from existing and new markets. 

The formula for enterprise acceleration

So how do we define enterprise acceleration? We look at two key criteria: technology, manifested in software, and people. For the sake of this blog post, we will look at people only. People speed is determined by the talent that people have, their ability to learn new skills, over the speed of forgetting skills and the rate of skills being obsolete.

For HR leaders, the variables are:

  • Hire extraordinary talent, of course with applicability for the enterprise’s current and future talent needs.
     
  • Understand people have to continuously learn, and need modern tools to enable this.
     
  • Make sure skills do not get lost, especially the relevant, just trained ones.
     
  • Minimize the percentage of obsolete skills in the enterprise’s people base. 


This requires a very different approach to people skills, their augmentation and conservation.

The three key focus areas for Enterprise Acceleration

Strategy

Enterprises need to shift their strategy from satisfying executive, reporting, and compliant needs, to a focus on helping the people leader, whose role is to achieve business results for the enterprise. These people leaders manage teams of employees and are chronically under supported by executives, tools, and processes. Most requirements from the leadership team coming down the chain of command neglect the situation, needs, and challenges of these people leaders.

CxOs need to analyze what people leaders need for their and their team's work, and what they need to become more successful. This requires a change of focus from administration and reporting needs to productivity and efficiency needs, as required by the organization’s people leaders, as well as the enterprise’s targeted setup from a strategy perspective. This makes the business user focus a key success factor in the overall strategy for implementing an enterprise acceleration strategy. 

SaaS

CxOs need to have conversations with their software providers on five key topics on the enterprise automation side:

Talent depth chart. The talent depth chart is crucial for enterprises to understand where its talent is. As seen in the enterprise acceleration formula, the innate talent of people is one of the key success factors for people speed. This means that finding internal talent for the right job is key to identify and transport the talent to the positionwhere the enterprise needs the people with the right skills.

Transboarding. This is the ability of company to "transport and onboard" talent in a faster and better way than ever before. This means that transferees will be trained for the next position even before they take it on. It also means a seamless transfer between jobs can happen with significantlylower cost and friction for both the employee and the people leader.

21st-century learning. CxOs need to have a conversation about modernizing their learning systems to meet the needs of the 21st century workforce. This means that learning content has to be pervasive, can be self-created, and can be self-curated and consumed.. Too much learning happens at the wrong time in the wrong place, and the speed of forgetting newly learned information and capabilities is killing any speed an enterprise was planning to pick up from the training/learning in the first place.

Fixed performance management. In order for the enterprise to know where the good people are, it needs to know who's performing well. Unfortunately, the state of performance management in enterprises is mostly in a sour state. Fixing whatever needs to be fixed to make performance management work is crucial for the enterprise that wants and needs to accelerate.

Lean recruiting. As the talent of its people is critical for the enterprise, the need to recruit fast is also crucial.. Removing the friction from the talent acquisition process by directly enabling hiring managers to see what talent is available in the market and facilitating the conversation between manager and future candidate is a key step to accelerate on recruiting side.

So, enterprise executives need to ask their software providers how they can help achieve these five capabilities. Are any of them coming, are any on the roadmap? Or is this the first time the vendor hears about them? 

Technology Platform

These are three topics for a conversation that people leaders need to have with their CIO/CTO colleague:

Machine learning. No technology will change the work life more than machine learning. An enterprise that wants to accelerate needs to have a strategy on how to leverage machine learning for its needs. HR leaders need to understand what their enterprise wants and can do in the near future and understand the repercussions and benefits of technology for the people leaders and their teams. And ,achine learning needs to run automatically on top of the enterprise data that is ideally stored inbig data clusters.

Big data. All planning starts with data. In a faster moving economy, enterprises can no longer afford to go on long data collection, cleanse, and acquisition projects. All electronic information that is at the disposal of the enterprise, needs to be available in Big Data clusters. This is the only way for enterprise to directly make decisions based on where data is and where it needs to move/react towards the competition in the respective markets. Establishing enterprise wide Big Data capabilities is a must have for enterprises, so they don't lose time directly at the starting blocks when starting in enterprise acceleration needs to happen. 

Non-monolithic. Traditionally enterprise software would provide only one way of doing things. That meant that when the enterprise needed different automation for different divisions, organizations or department's customization was needed. Today, a more modern approach to enterprise architecture is needed, which allows each area of the enterprise to run their own set of automation, a non-monolithic approach to enterprise software.

My POV

There is only one thing that is certain, and that is that business will never be as slow as it is today. It's vital for enterprises to find ways to help them move faster and be able to accelerate when it matters. It is also clear that more moments will be ahead where the ability of an enterprise to accelerate are crucial. The ability to reach the speed necessary for any transformation ahead is something CxOs needs to focus on, this blog post looked specifically at the people side of enterprise acceleration, something that is near and dear to HR leaders, but ultimately really all people leaders of an enterprise.

This post was originally published on Constellation Research – read the full post here.

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