HR and digital transformation with Google’s Yuval Dvir

Yuval Dvir joins HRD Connect to discuss the role for HR in digital transformation and top tips for HR leaders. 

How has the shift to a tech-savvy world required HR to reinvent itself?

Technology is changing the way we work and what we do when we leave work, so there is definitely a change our behaviour at home and at the office. What hasn’t changed, or at least not in the same sort of frequency, is how the organisation is structured and the processes and the operations within it.

If you take the analogy of software over hardware, in software the technology with the people have advanced much further even if the hardware within the organisation is still pretty much in the seventies. That creates the same sort of the tension and it’s up to HR to bring organisations, which are basically a human phenomenon (built by people for people) to bring it on par with technology and the way people work and live nowadays.

How have organisations dealt with this reinvention?

On a scale, there are organisations who are more tech savvy and understand that digital itself doesn’t just mean technology (it means a good balance between technology and humanity in order to take full advantage and materialise on technology). At the other end of the scale, some organisations just starting out and therefore lagging, but I guess we’re seeing innovations coming from a different direction, and within different processes. Netflix has been a big innovator in HR process. It’s a matter of time and it’s an evolution, changing and maturing as the years go by.

Why is putting technology in place not enough to achieve digital transformation in itself?

The simplest answer is that technology is only as good as the people implementing, adapting, and using it. Technology itself cannot solve problems; it’s the people leveraging technology that can solve the problem. I am from Google and I’ve worked technology companies for most of my life, but I still believe technology is still an enabler, albeit a massive enabler that can even sometimes automate human processes. With technology as an enabler we’re still very much dependent on the human ingenuity and the soft touches that we have.

Why is adaptability to change important for companies to thrive in the digital age?

The frequency of change, and innovations hitting the market is much more frequent than we’ve ever been used to and that’s one of the reasons that we’re talking about agile technology to manage sort of that risk.

The ability to learn to change course, to move from one area to another is the most important skill set that HR recruitment must have in an organisation because what an organisation does today may not be the same thing that it does in a few years’ time. So, the ability to take that workforce, adapt it to a new way of working and a new business model is crucial. You hear that from a lot of start-ups.

That’s also why potential is more important because, again going back to the start-up example, the ability to have a diverse workforce who can adapt, gives you optionality. Conversely, if you have someone with a certain set of experiences that has done something for their entire life, this does gives you someone who can hit the ground running but when the shift requires them to change and they don’t have that flexible mindset or adaptability and the you’re pretty much stuck.

Where can HR make the biggest difference in your organisation?

Everywhere. As I said, an organisation is still very much a human phenomenon built by humans for humans, so who better than ‘human resources’ to actually lead the way forward. All the elements of HR – of digital, of lean – HR should be expert on them and lead the organisation into adopting them as opposed to being just a business partner, following the organisation. So, moving from a follower to a leader, that’s where I see the biggest potential for HR nowadays.

What is your top tip for the HR leader?

I would say, just move to the front line of the organisation. Don’t be an adjacent department but know your business as well as anyone in an organisation; know the data, know the people, know the types of people – the dissidents, the bureaucrats, who has the potential to be a manger and who shouldn’t be a manager. Know all those elements and be able to have a seat at the table and, not only advise but also decide.

Yuval Dvir, Head of Online Partnerships at Google will join HRD Connect at HRD Summit/Europe on 30 – 31st May 2017.

Find out more about the event in Amsterdam and join us by visiting the HRD Summit Europe

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