To the magazine

Human Resources 4.0 | HR Management Soon everyone can help with finding

In the future, teams will increasingly search for,
qualify and motivate their members themselves.
The human resources department must use new
technologies and concepts to enable every area
to identify suitable talents and deploy them in
the best possible way.

Read article

Whether it’s big data, digitalization, Industry 4.0, new business models or smart service – the business world is changing rapidly and profoundly. Companies are facing major challenges. People are discussing the future of production, sales and service concepts as well as the IT structures that are needed to realize them. However, concentrating on technical and organizational issues threatens to shift focus from another key success factor: employees.

HR managers need to digitalize

“We need to embark on a journey through every part of the company,” says Katharina Heuer, Management Board Chairperson of the German Society for Human Resources Management (DGFP). “HR managers need to get involved in this transformation process: They play a key role in many areas.” There is still a great deal to do in deploying digital technologies in human resources, according to “The Digital Transformation of People Management,” a study by the Oxford Economics Research Institute. 

Although 84 percent of HR managers surveyed say that business analytics will influence their work longterm over the next few years, only one-third provide other departments with strategically valuable knowledge for selecting and qualifying employees.

Thomas Sattelberger, Chairman of the association HR Alliance, is calling for HR 4.0 hand in hand with Industry 4.0. “Many HR departments know too little about the technological and social forces of digitization in the business world,” notes the former CEO of Deutsche Telekom. “They are stabilizing conditions at the moment instead of discovering the creative potential for people.” Yet the time for centralized control is coming to an end. This conclusion was also reached by the study “Digital Radically Disrupts HR,” a new analysis in the Accenture series “Trends Reshaping the Future of HR.” The essence of its findings: Through the use of digital technologies, many decisions that affect employees are being shifted from the central HR department to individual departments, teams or the employees themselves. For example, if information about an 

employee’s strengths and weaknesses as well as experience and potential are stored in a database and can be evaluated in a meaningful way with analytics, then that person can plan her career directly with her supervisor without detouring through the HR department. Any additional training that may be necessary can be triggered automatically.

Training becomes customized

Modern technologies enable employees to study with mobile devices whenever and wherever they want. The result – learning new knowledge and skills – ultimately counts for more than their presence in a seminar room at a given time. Especially for Generation Y, who grew up with social media, tablets and smartphones, motivation and training concepts based on mechanisms from computer games are very effective. There is no way around gamification in HR activities either. If the knowledge gained this way is processed in a wellmaintained database, self-organizing teams working on specific tasks can 

use it to autonomously identify talents that they need to successfully realize their project. Even employee salaries or additional bonuses can be influenced by supply and demand in such databases.

Fewer experts accomplish more

However, circumventing the central HR department does not mean it will become obsolete. Quite the opposite. “Talent practices will become more integral to the business’s strategic capability, because they are data-driven, and talent data is better integrated with an organization’s business data,” says David Gartside, Accenture’s Managing Director Strategy, Talent & Organization. “The HR function may become smaller as digital more efficiently enables transactional processes, and line managers and employees adopt consumerlike applications to handle HR processes themselves. What remains in HR may become more project-oriented and aimed at improving organizational effectiveness – such as helping to integrate a new acquisition. Already, in some leading 

companies, HR analytics groups have been established to analyze data and determine drivers of workforce performance.”