To Keep Up With Digital Transformation, First Transform Your HR Department

These days, it feels like every morning arrives with new, dramatic, and unexpected changes brought about by technological innovation. I’ve spent my life working on moving forward, making progress, and always believing there’s a way to disrupt our old habits and systems with newer, better approaches. Yet, with the world changing so rapidly, even I am tempted to just hide my head in the sand and dream of “simpler times.” Of course, we know there’s no going back.

Whether or not you are excited about the future or gazing longingly back at the past, the truth is that the world continues to evolve and change. Companies looking to succeed need to meet those shifts head on. The business world has already been transformed by technologies ranging from the internet and email to GPS, automation, and the cloud. But the effects of our most profound digital transformation are only just beginning to hit.


Companies can no longer just use technology. Now – as customer information, tracking, and online presence become increasingly important – every major company must become a technology company. Whether it’s finding ways to customize apparel through 3D printing or tracking customer behavior in store and out, clothing companies, food and beverage purveyors, and even the banking industry have all started to invest in and grow technology departments that will fundamentally transform their business over the next decade.

This change is both monumental and unavoidable. A survey by Forbes Insights found that 91% of companies have found an increase in revenue thanks to the implementation of data analytics. Companies simply cannot afford to be behind the curve. Before companies digitally transform, however, they need to renovate one of our oldest – and most outdated – business practices: hiring.

For a long time, we’ve talked about the importance of building diverse teams and study after study promotes this approach. However, the diversity we need now can’t simply be measured by race, gender, or sexual orientation. Companies looking to successfully thrive during this transition need to implement hiring strategies that will recognize the potential of a wider variety of skills, experiences, and potentials.

Organizations are accustomed to hiring for certain, industry-specific skills or experiences. Do you work in banking? Hire someone who has worked at a bank. This approach seems logical but is dangerously flawed. In a digitally transformed market, it’s no longer enough to build teams comprised exclusively of industry experts. While you certainly need those experts – people who have watched the industry evolve and know what’s worked and what hasn’t – you also need technology experts who have a grasp on the tech field. You need different, new faces who can provide a fresh perspective, and creative, out-of-the-box thinkers who bring different problem-solving skills to the table.

To meet the challenges of a digitally transformed sector, companies must leverage the best technology at hand. Only through technology can we remake our entire hiring process and create the teams companies need to succeed in our fast-changing and hyper-competitive environment. Software can use data to guide our decision-making and ensure that we’re making the best – not the most familiar – choice. Easy-to-use cloud-based platforms can structure interviews and align interviewers throughout the company on the capacities they most need to identify in candidates.

While I’m tempted, sometimes, to ignore change and continue doing things the way I always have, I know that such an approach simply isn’t an option. Let’s get excited by the challenge of digital transformation and the possibilities it brings. Let’s meet these changes head on with strategies for a new kind of hiring that will strengthen our companies and prepare us to make bold strides in brand new directions.

Engineer, entrepreneur, and mom, Laura Mather, PhD is an expert on the future of the workplace. After selling her cyber security company, Silver Tail, in 2012, Mather created Unitive, a software that optimizes data-driven decision-making in the hiring process, empowering companies to build stronger, more effective teams.

Mather was honored as one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business and as one of Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs. She is a featured speaker at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Next Generation Summit, HR West, and Ad Week, among others.

The GradsofLifeVoice Forbes team provides thought leadership, research and expert commentary on innovative talent pipelines and related issues such as the skills gap, income inequality, workforce diversity, and the business case for employment pathways. We seek to change employers’ perceptions of young adults with atypical resumes from social liabilities to economic assets. This post was originally featured here.

Business Case, Hiring & Retention Practices, Technology,
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