Over the last several years technology has tremendously shaped back offices by cutting costs and improving efficiency, but this transformation has not been easy. Based on our experience, there are two main pitfalls that HR departments should be wary of. First, change management: how can organisations get their employees energised about and involved in their (new) jobs? It's a task more complex than it sounds. And second, the IT landscape: how well is the new HR system integrated into the organisation's existing IT presence? The thoroughness of this integration can be an important, and sometimes neglected, factor in the context of an HR digital transformation.

Excitingly, new digital tools are emerging that can help both change management and the IT landscape. In this article, we'll look closer at these two challenges and illustrate their futures.

A centralised HR platform

Currently, employees expect a single HR portal for managing personal information, requesting absences, registering for e-learning courses, etc. This demand underlines the need, nowadays, for firms to have a unique framework in place that addresses the employee experience. In reality, however, firms tend to keep legacy systems for financial reasons—at the expense of user experience, opportunities to simplify processes, and centralising their governance. Related to this issue, almost 35% of HR directors have ranked "disparate underlying IT systems and lack of integration across IT applications and systems" as their third biggest challenge regarding new technology.

In response to this need, new HR platforms are hitting the market. They provide unique interfaces that allow employees to access HR services in standardised and centralised ways.

HR assistance should be ongoing, powerful, and on-demand

Cloud technology has offered new levels of customisation for HR processes, but simultaneously more standardisation. This has enabled many organisations to move away from focusing on process optimisation, and towards new topics like service level agreements, support models, delivery models, and new solution exploration. Artificial intelligence and automation in particular could end up being tremendously valuable: according to Bank of America, at Davos 2016, their savings from these technologies will range from 14 to 33 trillion USD by 2025.

Additionally, new HR platforms free up time for operators by using robotic process automation (RPA), i.e. the automation of parts of processes, or by directly funnelling employee requests with chatbots. Thus, issues can be resolved more quickly while allowing operators to focus more on the core business of reducing potential disruption.

Enhanced change management

With new technology comes new methodologies: firms are now executing change management on the whole transformation journey, with a view to avoiding disruption of day-to-day operations and to encouraging adoption of new processes and behaviours. Change management is one of our areas of expertise, and to that end we've developed a customisable change management approach. It's called Behavioral Change Management (BCM) and centres on enabling employees to engage in their day-to-day activities with enthusiasm.

In addition to this methodology, technology itself can foster change management by helping employees make better decisions. For example, some firms use text or video pop-ups on employees' screens to guide them (which also reduces the helpdesk's workload).

Change management is a very healthy area right now in terms of importance and development. With new tools and services hitting the market all the time, what's key is to select the right ones to enhance and enable your digital HR transformation and to create new employee experiences.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.