HR’s Crucial Role in Digital Transformation

Sep 20, 2022

HR’s Crucial Role in Digital TransformationIf I said you had a one-in-four chance of success, would you even try? 

According to McKinsey, seventy percent of organizational transformations fail. It makes taking on a digital transformation project seem almost doomed to failure. Failure in this sense means it takes too long, you don’t

 accomplish your goals, or it’s only temporary.  

When it comes to successful digital transformation the odds might be grim, but HR ca

n fix that. 

Why do almost three-fourths fall flat? The answer is most companies start them believing that simply implementing new tech is enough. They’re mistaken. It isn’t just about the technology, it’s about people.  

We can understand the mindset. But contrary to common belief, digital transformation isn’t difficult. Nor is it solely the domain of IT professionals and the tech-savvy. Changing that mindset is an HR task.  

Experts believe that digital transformation is the perfect opportunity for HR to shine. Why? Because digital transformation is as much about your people as it is about technology.   

What is digital transformation?  

Digital transformation (DX) is a change strategy to use upgraded digital technology tools to improve how you do business. It has implications not only for business processes but also for culture and customer experience (CX).  

The digital tools at the forefront of DX include AI, XaaS (Anything as a Service - Cloud technology), and robotic process automation.  

HR’s Role 

Since digital transformation has implications for people and culture, You have a prominent role in guiding the transition.  

Key areas: 

  • Change Management 
  • Skilling and Talent 
  • Organizational structure 
  • Adoption 

Change Agent  

Digital transformation often fails when we don’t consider how it affects employees and company culture. Since it has the potential to change how your people work, you must prepare and support them before, during, and after implementation.  

HR can take the lead in setting expectations, a prerequisite when introducing new ideas or ways of doing things. This includes information on how jobs will be affected. Humans are naturally resistant to change, so you must mitigate knee-jerk negative responses. Remember, it is a technological shift and a cultural one.  

When people get used to doing things a certain way, you must convey how the change is beneficial. The new way must be better, not only for the company but also for them. Show, don’t tell them that the new digital culture will empower them to deliver better results faster.  

HR should help your employees understand what is happening, why it’s happening, and how it will happen. Their understanding is essential to getting their buy-in. Without buy-in, there may be overt or passive resistance because they don’t want to take part. That buy-in calls for regular, clear communication and training.  

BCG research found that nearly 90% of companies that prioritized culture reported consistently strong performance.   

Talent Whisperer  

Who will execute the transformation? Your human capital.  

How? By adopting the new digital tools and processes needed to grow.  

Does your workforce have the skills they need to deliver? They will not spontaneously or accidentally get the necessary skills. A skills gap analysis followed by a training plan will have to be at the top of HR’s to-do list. Once you identify knowledge gaps you’ll need to crank up the LMS.  

Upskilling or reskilling may be the order of the day. In some cases, you will find it necessary to hire new talent to meet the changing needs of the organization and support the new technology. Devise a talent acquisition strategy to fill the need.  

Organizational Designer  

More often than not, digital transformation calls your organization’s design and structure into question. Existing structures may not adequately support the transition and, left alone, may not be able to respond to the change as they should. A redesign may be the only recourse. 

Redesigning may even become a regular occurrence as your organization reaps the benefits of transformation and builds agility to respond to opportunities. This is the way of the digital, data-driven business world.   

Adoption Champion 

 With people at the center of digital transformation, it’s up to HR to take the reins. While new technology is supposed to make our jobs easier, its adoption isn’t easy. It is by nature disruptive and rapidly evolving, so keeping pace is paramount.  

Digital adoption is the ability to fully grasp digital technology and use it with ease. Don’t confuse it with digital usage, though. Usage has a much lower bar allowing users to meet a minimum requirement of narrow, limited use.  

It may seem that digital adoption would naturally occur with time, after all, isn’t that how we all learned to use smartphones?  

Here’s the deal: over time, while we become more comfortable with technology, we don’t necessarily become better at using it and keeping up as it evolves. This is not the way to realize its full value.  

To justify the investment and ensure a positive ROI, HR must use analytics to track usage and engagement with the technology. Getting users up to speed is a challenge. A lack of proper user adoption can drain other resources unnecessarily as they fall back, at least partially, on old methods. 

By monitoring, you can ensure that they are making the most of the functionalities and optimizing the digital tools at their disposal. For your people to extract maximum value they need a strong grasp of features and processes. Strong support during and after the adoption process will pave the way.  

Sometimes employees find themselves navigating multiple systems in performing their jobs. An adoption strategy will help prevent the “employee overwhelm” that can cause productivity to suffer. 

The test of true adoption is whether your employee’s life has improved. The evidence lies in smoother, faster completion of tasks and improved productivity.  

The digital adoption strategy must include lots of support and training. HR’s job is to rally the workforce around the new tech and mitigate any anticipated issues. 

Rewarding employees who show willingness and creativity in adopting new technology and methodologies can also go a long way. 


To leverage technology effectively to improve workforce performance, efficiency, and business outcomes, HR has to play a starring role right alongside IT.  

Pixentia can get you started on the path to digital transformation.  


About Pixentia

Pixentia is a full-service technology company dedicated to helping clients solve business problems, improve the capability of their people, and achieve better results.  

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