Dr. Umut Köksal: HR department is one of the pioneers and drivers of digital transformation process

Dr. Umut Köksal: HR department is one of the pioneers and drivers of digital transformation process

Dr. Köksal, can you introduce yourself to our audience?

First of all, thank you so much for this interview. My name is Dr. Umut Köksal. I am the founder of UK Training and Consulting Company in Turkey that mainly operates in digital HR and digital transformation areas. As a company, we serve multinational, world and industry leader organizations in different countries, including Turkey and some other countries.

At the same time, I am an assistant professor of digitalization and emerging technologies at the university in Turkey. I teach Digital HR, Artificial Intelligence, Robotic Process Automation, Technology Trends and Innovation Management courses at the university.  

Moreover, I am the digital transformation leader of private and public organizations and try to design their digital transformation, digital HR strategies and execute their digitalization roadmaps, some of my references include the world’s biggest multinational organizations.

Besides digital transformation and digital HR, my other concentration area is HR Marketing. I am the author of book called “HR Marketing: A Marketing Touch to HR” which was a bestseller in several countries in 2015-2016.

What are the top current trends in digital transformation on the European market? Do you have any observations on Bulgarian companies in that regard?

Digital Emotional Intelligence, Total Experience, Understanding the Implementation of Metaverse, Practical Blockchain, Advanced Internet of Things Practices, Internet of Behaviors, AI Security, Hyper Automation are some of the emerging technology trends in the European Market in 2022.

There are so many trends and these trends change rapidly. The common theme in their implementation is big data and data analytics.Data is the oil for all these technology trends, whether your department is Finance, Quality, Production, Sales, Marketing, or HR. It does not matter. Data analytics is the heart of all these technological trends.

During the peak of Covid-19, the main concentration was to foster sustainable remote working by the help of technological trends. But after Covid-19, CEOs and CTOs changed their strategy for the successful interaction between technology and employee, and began to return to work integration mentality.

For Bulgarian companies, I also have some observations. They are limited but may provide some signals. Some of the Bulgarian companies have the awareness of digital transformation and understand that they need to integrate their business processes with technology, but some of them do not have this awareness. Most of those who have this awareness are the ones that are multinational companies or large-scale operations.

According to you what is the role of the HR department in the overall process of digital transformation in the company?

According to me, HR department is one of the pioneers and drivers of digital transformation process in an organization. Most of the time, professionals in the business life, even my MA students in Digital Transformation, say that digital transformation is all about technology and technology means financial investment. So that, only companies that have financial power may digitally transform. This is not 100 % true.  Digital transformation is a mentality, it needs management philosophy, it needs culture, it needs communication, it needs strategy.   As a department, HR has to act as the facilitator of digital transformation strategy. Digital transformation is not only the responsibility of IT department, other departments, mainly and primarily HR are also crucial parties of the company’s digital transformation projects. The HR department’s procedures, processes and the HR systems also should be directed towards the company’s digital transformation goals. One of the reasons that companies fail in their digital transformation projects is that they perceive digital transformation as a technology implementation or technology purchasing process. But this is not true. Digital transformation is not a destination, it is a journey and HR is one of the critical passengers and at the same time drivers in this journey.

Digital transformation of all functions is inevitable. What has your personal experience with the digital transformation of the HR function been like? What have the key milestones been?

According to my global experience, the milestones of a successful digital HR transformation are analyzing the digital maturity of each HR process in the HR departments and after this analysis, deploying a sustainable digital HR strategy. These two steps are the key milestones. If these milestones are adopted successfully, then implementing a digital HR project plan or road map becomes easier. Technology is not the main issue, as I mentioned in the previous question.

Technologies change, they are not constant. But digital HR maturity analysis, writing down a digital HR strategy compatible with the management philosophy and organizational culture are more important. Moreover, adapting data analytics to HR, clarifying all HR data, such as recruitment data, training data, talent management data, salary management data, employee demographics, payroll data etc. is another key milestone in successful digital HR projects.

Digital transformation all starts and ends with data…. Data is the fuel of digital transformation and of course digitalization of HR processes.

What do your trainees most frequently find challenging when trying to integrate the key concepts of digital transformation in their daily work? What do they find most useful and immediately applicable?

Human beings all have habits, we all have habits, attitudes, different style of making business. Moreover, digital transformation is still a new area for most of the people.My trainees most of the time find the concepts of digital disruption, digital maturity and digital transformation models challenging. These are the dominating concepts of today's agile, proactive oriented, post-Covid 19 period. Trainees that have different backgrounds and have different perceptions about doing business in traditional methods have sometimes challenges when trying to integrate these concepts. But it is not so high in percentage, maybe 1 or 2 trainees out of 10.

They find the technology aspect, e-commerce aspect and data analytics aspect of the digital transformation most useful and immediately applicable. For instance, e-commerce or implementing digital channels for their products/services is beyond applicable, it is the only reality post Covid-19.Moreover, for HR departments, preparing their reports, their dashboards and presenting these digital dashboards to their CHROs or CEOs are very applicable for them. By implementing HR analytics, HR Departments find a chance to market their HR processes and consolidate their HR department metrics. Preparing a sustainable HR Department, action plan or roadmap is the gift of this process. As the pioneer & guru of Management, Peter Drucker has once mentioned “If you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it”. Digital transformation and data analytics give HR professionals a chance to acquire important metrics, for example their return on investment in HR programs.