HR Tech Festival Asia Online 2020: Women at the forefront of digitalisation

Day 2 of the HR Tech Festival Asia Online 2020 saw female leaders share their experiences and challenges in driving digitalisation.
By: | October 1, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrust the global workforce into digitalisation, regardless if you are male, female, young or old.

And we are seeing more women in the technology space than ever, with female leaders rising to the challenge and being at the forefront in their organisations’ drive towards digitalisation.

The Women in HR Technology sessions at the HR Tech Festival Asia Online 2020 has provided them a platform to share about their experiences, challenges and achievements in driving digitalisation and implementing technologies to help support their employees.

During the session “Women In HR Technology: Skilling, Reskilling & Upskilling For The Vital Digital Transformation” on Day 2, Stacey Harris, Chief Research Officer, Sapient Insights Group, hosted a panel discussion with Joy Koh, Head of Consulting APAC, Alexander Mann Solutions, and Siew Choo Soh, Managing Director, Group, Head of Consumer Banking and Big Data/AI Technology, DBS Bank, to discuss what technologies their organisations have adopted and the skill sets that are needed in the new normal.

“We’ve invested in a global HR system and we’ve encouraged our employees to update their skills and experience. And in the consultancy practice we’ve also recorded utilisation. When we put the two together we are able to work closely with our managers to identify where there’s capacity and vice versa, and to be able to use the data to support secondments to our clients and opportunities across different accounts,” shared Koh. 

“For example, recently we had a technology consulting project with McDonalds and Amazon where we needed to redeploy some of our resources very quickly. And with our systems and ability to see where we have people who are readily available to deploy, we manage to staff up that project really quickly.

“Besides talent management and acquisition skills, we are looking for learning agility. With the pandemic, it’s about how quickly you learn and relearn so that you can thrive in the environment where change is the constant. In terms of how we support our employees, we have on the job training programmes, mentoring programmes, online learning suites. It’s a combination of how we upskill and cross train our staff,” she added.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, DBS Bank has been lauded for its digitalisation efforts. In fact, it was named the World’s Best Bank for the last three years for its digital transformation. So what has the bank done during the pandemic to help its workers adapt to the new normal?

“The pandemic suddenly turned everything digital. We have to switch most of our employees from working in the office to working remotely. And in India, the switch happened within two days, from 100% working in the office to 100% working from home. Thanks to the investment in terms of employee collaboration, we have been able to implement the switch pretty seamlessly. We have measured the impact of remote working and productivity has been maintained,” Siew shared.

“Another way that we used technology is in contact tracing. We quickly put together data based on our employees calendar, our office gantries, to trace who has been in contact with employees who have been infected.

“In this era where every company is a technology company, the digital and data skill sets are fundamental. But that doesn’t mean that you need to learn how to code. I have to say the most important skill set is the mindset. Everything we learn is changing so rapidly and what we learnt in school will be outdated in no time. The only thing we have in order to be relevant is humility to continue to learn regardless of where you are in your career. And that calls for agility and flexibility,” she added.

While digitalisation is at the fore of many leaders’ minds, diversity and inclusiveness (D&I) remains an important factor for many organisations, especially when the talent pool is becoming increasingly global due to the rise of remote working.

Sharing how Ericsson built its culture of inclusiveness in Southeast Asia, Urvi Jobalia, Regional Head of Talent Acquisition for SEA Oceania and India at Ericsson, explained how there is a need to get a buy-in from C-suite and receive top-down support.  

“It is Ericsson’s culture to ensure there’s (D&I) embedded in every process and activities at every level of management. With the tone set from the top, I can get the sponsorship and support from each management level,” she said.

She also highlighted the important role of technology in Ericsson’s D&I journey which starts from the very early steps of selecting candidates, conducting interviews, selecting the right candidates that incorporate language and other abilities to reduce bias which commonly happens during the selection process by just looking at their resume.  

While talent acquisition has fallen down the pecking order for many organisations, it does not mean that hiring stops. In fact, less openings available in the job market will only translate to an increase in applicant volumes for each role. 

During her session “What Is Talent Acquistion’s Value When Hiring Slows?”, Michelle Hancic, Global Head of Consulting Psychology, pymetrics, explained why technology is integral in helping employers better manage their talent acquisition. 

“Firstly, while the number of open roles is declining, we are seeing a dramatic increase in applicant numbers for those few roles that are open. So competition is rife. Some of our clients are seeing a 700% increase in applicant volumes. So for those organisations that do not have automated screening processes, these increases in applicant volumes are putting continued pressure on their talent acquisition teams,” she said.

“The diversity of the applicant pool has also increased exponentially. We are not seeing people with a range of qualifications and skill sets applying to roles they may never have considered before. The increase in applicant volume and diversity can make it very challenging for talent acquisition teams to screen applicants, especially if they have not digitalised their screening processes.

“While internal talent mobility has been on the radar of organisations for a number of years now, COVID-19 has really accelerated its need. And talent acquisition can now play an active and driving role in talent agility and mobility. There’s no way you can do that effectively without technology,” she added.

During ADP’s session “The Secret Variable In The EX To CX Equation”, Rahul Goyal, General Manager for India & Southeast Asia, ADP, shared how the company has been working on building many HR collaborative tools and products at ADP to help organisations with their business continuity, automation, data security and many more by converting EX (Employee Experience) to CX (Customer Experience). 

“The appreciation of technology has improved many folds during the pandemic and surviving without technology would be challenging”, he said. 

Co-joining the session, Balaji Thiruvengadam, Senior Director, Product Development APAC, ADP, shared the key variable in the EX to CX equation that all business and HR leaders need to know. He also highlighted three components that make up EX which include culture, physical environment, and technological environment.

Balaji emphasised on the direct influence of EX to CX and Customer satisfaction. He called for HR leaders to pay attention to HR technologies that incubate the right UX (User Experience) to produce greater EX.

“Employee experience is something that refers to everything and anything that an employee would be exposed to during the course of employment right from the interview process, development and until retirement. There are three components that make up employee experience – Culture, physical environment and technology. Today’s leaders need to understand that they need the right technology to create great employee experience. Every employee is a recipient of HR technology,” he said.

Digitalisation has transformed many traditional roles and even created new ones. And this has further highlighted the importance of workforce agility. 

During the session “Forget The Workforce, Focus On Your ‘Skillsforce’”, Benny Ramos, Solutions Principle, Skillsoft, believes that leaders not only need to embrace and adopt technology, but also use it to better understand the skills their employees possess, which can help to fill the new demands and roles.

“Large organisations can use technology to become more agile and smaller organisations to compete with larger organisations. We’ve gone from hierarchy to ‘wirearchy’ over the last number of years. Instead of leadership coming from a central location or person, today we are not only leading people to people, but people to machines, and machines to machines. So the output of a leader is not just managing the output of a network of people, but a network of machines and people. 

“According to the World Economic Forum, one in six jobs are at risk of replacement from automation. However, about a third of those could be translated because the competencies the worker originally had can be brought with them into new roles. For example, a database analyst can translate his or her competencies into a new role like a data analyst or data scientist. So the number of jobs at risk can be mitigated by upskilling and reskilling,” he added.

Day 2 of the HR Tech Festival Asia Online 2020 wrapped up with the much-anticipated announcement of the HRM Asia Readers’ Choice Awards 2020, which celebrates the best of HR solutions providers.

And if you missed the Awards Ceremony, fret not. You can find out all the deserved winners across 19 exciting categories here.