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Technology and HR together: Is this the future?

As the demand for digital intelligence explodes across industries, one company has created a new job title to fill their technology and HR needs for the future.

One of the largest beverage companies in the world has announced a brand new HR position to head up its New Zealand and Fiji operations.

Coca-Cola Amatil has named Graham Robertson as general manager of people and technology. It’s a newly created role at the firm, which combines two functions.

Robertson had been managing both roles for some time, according to managing director at Coca-Cola Amatil New Zealand and Fiji Chris Litchfield. He says it made sense for them to roll these two “very important” departments into one position.

“One of the positive things about being a great leader and a great executive is that you need a very diverse set of skills that can be applied across all functions,” says Litchfield. The decision might be a little bit different, he explains, but it’s not surprising given current industry practices. According to Oxford Economics, 80 per cent of executives in the HR industry consider implementing technologies that will improve workforce planning as essential to success over the next three years.

Is this new role a sign of an emerging trend?

It very well might be. Rather than representing a compounding of resources, Robertson’s appointment is indicative of the growing demand for digital skills across industries by recruiters. And it’s a trend that’s of particular significance to HR, where digital disruption is bulldozing many of the administrative functions of the industry.

A new report by Deloitte, Global Human Capital Trends 2016, states just that. The study surveyed more than 7000 HR and business leaders from 130 countries.

This year’s standout finding? In the face of sweeping global forces, HR must upgrade its skills in order to assist organisations. These organisations are “embracing digital technologies to reinvent the workplace, focusing on diversity and inclusion as a business strategy, and realising that, without a strong learning culture, they will not succeed.”

Similarly, another Deloitte report, HR Technology for 2016: 10 Big Disruptions Ahead, suggests that the current wave of technology-led HR transformation has two primary implications for organisations. The first is that it offers a range of new tools to help leaders better manage and engage the talent inside their organisations. The second is that it creates opportunities for increased HR-IT partnerships as HR leaders seek vendor selection and technology integration advice from CIOs and other technology executives.

“We’ve seen a much more definite trend towards the intersection of technology and HR and there’s been more recruitment of people who have an analytical or HR information systems focus,” says David Owens, managing director of specialist HR recruitment firm HR Partners.

He’s excited about more HR people embracing the intersection of technology and HR and increasingly becoming part of the conversation. But he does see the need for HR to develop the skills to meet demand.

“Some people are getting into HR from payroll or benefits administration and oftentimes we see those kinds of people having a strong analytics capability – and those skills are very much in short supply,” Owens says.

In the case of this new position, it’s a telling example of the desire for diverse skills and holistic business understanding in order to facilitate cross-pollination between company departments.

Robertson says he plans to strengthen the capabilities of the technology and human resources teams in his new role. His first order of business is accelerating the ways technology and IT solutions further the company’s high employee engagement and strong performance culture.

What can HR do to foster professional development?

Plan for your future and invest in yourself in 2017. Check out AHRI Training Directory 2017 to advance your skills.

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