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Meet Digital Disruption in the Workforce Head-On

by Yvette Cameron | SAPinsider, Volume 17, Issue 3

August 3, 2016

The disruption caused by digitization spares no line of business and the challenges that HR faces are especially unique. As the nature of the workforce evolves, HR departments are faced with reinventing themselves to support this new workforce. But with its reliance on customized solutions and complex processes, HR often faces difficulties when attempting to simplify and transform. In this article, explore strategies for simplifying HR in preparation for the workforce of tomorrow.

Digital disruption is causing an upheaval that spares no line of business, organization, or industry. Digitization changes how companies engage with customers and bring goods to market, and in some cases it can even create entirely new and unexpected business models. When the one constant is change, organizations are under tremendous pressure to transform their business in kind by adopting an agile, digital framework.

Embracing this digital transformation, however, means more than just deploying the newest digital technologies to run new and reimagined business processes. From the human resources (HR) perspective, digital disruption is also measured by its significant impact on the workforce in a transition to a gig economy. From an increase of contingent workers to a relaxed definition of what constitutes a standard work day, digitization is completely changing how people work. HR needs to shed complexity to meet the challenge and opportunity brought on by this constant change and to support the workforce in a transition to a digital enterprise.

While every line of business is challenged with simplifying, the task for HR is perhaps even more challenging due to its reliance on heavily customized solutions and complex processes that have resulted from fewer standards and regulations than other areas have seen. With an endless number of customized, tailored processes for functions such as talent management and performance management, HR is tasked with managing complexity rather than focusing on more value-added functions of fostering workplace engagement, enabling the business with insightful decision support, and helping to develop the right skillsets for a digital enterprise. Ill-spent custodial resources constrain growth and prevent HR from becoming a more strategic partner to the overall success of the business.

Getting to Simple

On a digital transformation journey, SAP and SAP SuccessFactors offer innumerable ways for HR to shed complexity and drive simplification. With the adoption of a hybrid landscape that integrates SAP SuccessFactors solutions in the cloud with SAP ERP Human Capital Management (SAP ERP HCM) on premise, organizations can begin to extricate themselves from unwieldy processes by transitioning to streamlined best practices.

Flexibility in the SAP SuccessFactors suite allows companies to build their hybrid landscape to their own specifications, allowing them to decide what capabilities to keep on premise and what new or reconfigured processes might be better served in the cloud. This “start anywhere, go everywhere” strategy enables SAP ERP HCM clients to extend their current investments with new possibilities in a high-reward, low-risk approach.

Accepting a transition to a hybrid landscape is often thought of as the first step on the journey toward digitizing the enterprise. But to embrace this journey doesn’t mean an HR organization must turn its back on the unique customizations that differentiate it from competitors. The SAP SuccessFactors vision is that a configurable cloud environment serves as the foundation of a digital footprint, with extensibility options giving shape to an even more dynamic, flexible landscape.

With SAP HANA Cloud Platform, for example, partners and customers can build, run, or extend custom-built SAP and non-SAP applications that seamlessly integrate with an SAP SuccessFactors and on-premise environment with this best-in-class, in-memory platform as a service (PaaS).

Approximately 2,600 customers and 450 partners are using SAP HANA Cloud Platform to innovate and add functionality with new applications, or to fill in the white space in existing applications. One example of this in the HR space is JobPts by Semos, a new employee engagement and rewards tool that integrates with SAP SuccessFactors solutions for employees and managers to recognize superior work on a points-based system. The application extends existing performance, goals, and compensation functionality by automating motivation and rewards practices, providing deeper insights into talent and performance trends.

Software innovation is not exclusive to SAP, and SAP HANA Cloud Platform is a good example; it is an open-source, Java-based platform. Additionally, SAP recently announced a partnership with Apple that brings the iOS development platform into the SAP ecosystem.

A More Intelligent HR

Another way SAP SuccessFactors helps shed complexity is recognizing that complex systems in many cases can be significantly simplified by managing workforce events in a new way. Rather than build out complexity to handle different standalone day-to-day tasks, automating them in an intelligent way to manage not only the data changes but the actions and events affected by those changes enables a full, end-to-end approach for workforce events.

SAP SuccessFactors’ Intelligent Services manages and recommends actions in typical HR events within and beyond the entire SAP SuccessFactors HCM suite. As an example, if an employee is going on leave, Intelligent Services can look at the impact this will have on everything from access and security to ongoing projects, customer engagements, expenses, workflows, and succession planning. This relieves users from having to complete myriad actions for each event that crops up to ensure the best outcomes. Augmenting human processes with machine learning and intelligence drives simplification because it will become more intelligent over time as it learns about more users, roles, common actions related to events, and more details about a particular business unit or workplace.

A more intelligent HR system is important not only for what it brings in, but also for what it takes out; namely, bias and discrimination in hiring practices and in the workforce as a whole. Addressing workplace bias — intentional or otherwise — has been a thorny challenge. With machine learning and text mining, the SAP SuccessFactors HCM suite will be augmented by the automated capability to review content such as job descriptions, performance reviews, and feedback for potential bias, and to receive suggested alternatives to promote unbiased language. Other opportunities in mentoring and career management, and tools for balancing family life and work, are also being explored as part of this initiative.

SAP’s new partnership with Microsoft — which includes the integration of Microsoft Office 365 and SAP SuccessFactors solutions — was another major SAPPHIRE NOW announcement in 2016. For HR, this partnership exemplifies the SAP SuccessFactors vision of connecting disparate systems across the enterprise into end-to-end workflows. For example, actions such as vacations captured within SAP SuccessFactors seamlessly interact with Microsoft Outlook to proactively manage the planned activities and tasks affected by the event.

At SAP SuccessFactors, simplification isn’t just a buzzword. Intelligent Services, partnerships with Microsoft and ADP, SAP HANA Cloud Platform, and dynamic functionalities in a robust cloud application all reinforce SAP’s commitment to being a digital pacesetter in the HR space. The way we work is changing quickly, and shedding traditional complexity with tools that support a digital framework ensures that a workforce is functioning at peak performance.

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Yvette Cameron
Yvette Cameron

Global Head of SAP
SuccessFactors Strategy

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