Will HR be Redundant in the Digital World?

Will HR be redundant in the digital world - People Development Network
Will HR be redundant in the digital world - People Development Network

“We have entered a new Digital World of Work, a world which will dramatically change the way we manage.” – Josh Bersin

Today we are on the edge of a technology revolution, which will profoundly change our way of life and work by virtue of the speed at which the revolution is evolving and the way that it is going to be a disruptor for all industries worldwide.


The evolution of work has already begun; organizations have started to put together the missing pieces to make sure that the transition to change is less disrupting for the employees. For example, we see many organizations are already moving to the cloud from on premise systems, thus removing the need for hardware and enabling employees to have access to their portfolios from anywhere through mobile devices or offering flexible hours instead of fixed working hours .

Jacob Morgan in his thought provoking book – The Future of Work has mentioned about 5 trends which will shape the world.


  • BEHAVIORS: Our behaviors will be influenced by the technologies in our organizations. Today we are governed by email as the primary form of communications. This will evolve to a more public, social & collaborative, connected world. No longer, will we send out 167 emails looking for profiles, but will use collaborative technologies to look within the company using keywords searches. We will start engaging with people halfway across the globe or crowdsource for ideas. Eg: building and sharing our professional profiles on LinkedIn, reviewing companies on Yelp, use SIRI to answer our questions.
  • TECHNOLOGIES: Technology is advancing to stages which were only in our wildest dreams or sci – fi movies. A friend was narrating his experience in Marriott, LA recently. He had called housekeeping for shampoo. When the door was rung, he opened it to see no one but could hear his name being called and looked down to see a small bot calling out his name and asking to lift its cap, where a personalized packed kit was stored. The bot after delivery scampered away to its station beside the elevator. Apart from use of Automation (Read: Bots) and Internet of Things, what will impact the workplace is the radical movement to Cloud technologies and the use of Big Data & Analytics.
  • MILLENNIALS: They are the first generation to be wired from birth. Not only are they more agile and tolerant of the various diversities , their value systems make them think more about sustainability and global concerns. Their workplace expectations are being connected, collaborative and flexible where they are not tied to their workplaces from 9 to 5 but are provided with technologies to work from anywhere and anytime yet leave them to pursue their passions at their liberty.
  • MOBILITY: The age of working in a cubicle and commuting to office is slowly coming to an end. All one needs is a smartphone or tablet and an internet connection thus making an employee location independent. Over 91 percent of the world’s population owns a mobile and 22% own a smartphone with the numbers rising. It is but natural that this will become the primary mode of communication and work.
  • GLOBALIZATION: The world is evolving into a diverse workplace with no boundaries thanks to technology and facilities like co-working. Organizations, small or big, corporates or startups will no longer be restricted by communication or currency and will soon become a diverse global playing field.

Thanks to these trends, enterprises will start seeing changes sooner than they imagined in the workplace. This disruption will compel enterprises to adapt and reorganize to the following new developments.


  1. Bottom-up approach – Employees bring in new values, attitudes which will be adopted by managers and thus by the organization.
  2. Flatarchies – Combination Hierarchy which is flat yet creates an ad hoc hierarchy to work on a project and then disband
  3. Holacratic – Circular hierarchy. Top Circles set direction & provide guidance, Circles below Implement democratically
  4. Intrapreneurial – Being an entrepreneur while working inside an organization, come up with new ideas and bring them to life.
  5. Democratized Learning- Structure Independent Learning , learn on the go with collaborative technologies at own pace , Can be a teacher or a learner


  1. Gig Economy – Rise of the nontraditional worker like temporary , Independent contractors , freelancers or nomad workers
  2. Co-Working Spaces – Creation of ad-hoc collaborative ergonomic business oriented working spots for multi organization employees
  3. Manager Less – No micro management. Leaders will mentor, reward and create an environment of success
  4. Flexible Working – Work anytime , work anywhere , output focused , end of the conventional work timings
  5. Connectivity Modes- Email no longer primary mode, employees uber-connected to work using mobile devices or tablets at all times.

So what does this reckon for HR professionals? Jeanne Meister (uses an interesting concept – Consumerization of HR. What this means is a User Experience through social and mobile technologies for not just employees but potential candidates as well.


  1. Shift to Cloud – With the elimination of physical hardware, absolutely tiny implementation timelines, real-time upgrades sometimes several in a year, offering flexibility through mobile applications, not to mention enormous reduction in costs, there is no way that future organizations will run only on cloud. HR will move out from just workflow approvals and transactions to much more evolved strategic work.
  2. MOOC – This has already transformed the learning experience, not to mention a huge reduction in corporate training budgets. Corporates can now give learners or new joiners or campus recruits access to course materials to complete certifications at their convenience. They also provide a discussion forum with professors, managers, and peers. Additionally, Real-time Analytics track the individual learning progress.
  3. SPOC – Small Private Online Courses offered as bespoke learning experiences rather than standard e-learning
  4. Gamification – moving beyond the realm of fun and games , this concept has already started foraying into a whole gamut of HR applications – Talent acquisition ,learning, and development , Onboarding , employee engagement
  5. HR Hackathons – Assemble a group of interns or trainees to give feedback to leaders or develop new models for increased employee engagement


Even today, there are enterprises which feel that they are too large to need to or want to change with times. But the effective organizations adapt to changing cultures and trends when things are running efficiently. The years to come will be really thrilling and stimulating for the employee, the manager and the organization. But the key to a successful organization will be to design a work experience for the employee not as a mere daily grind to receive remuneration but to accomplish a sense of happiness and self-actualization.




HCM Consultant at Tata Consultancy Services
HCM Consultant
- 8 months ago

Latest posts by chandrimanag (see all)