A Look Ahead at HR 2016 / 2017: Becoming Digital






HR is in a defining moment. Demographic upheavals, digital technology, and disruptive change are transforming the workplace and driving an approach to delivering measurable value and people services that will likely leave many conventional HR models far behind. A new focus on HR customer experience combined with a push toward increasing integration with the business and other corporate functions is prompting a redefinition of HR and a new approach to people in the workplace. The change is revolutionary—and it’s happening now.

Leading HR through this revolutionary change will involve bold action and a deep understanding of the trends behind the disruptions. Over the next year, we will explore the current trends in HR operations and service delivery and focus on new mind-sets to bringing people services and value to organizations in the digital age. Some of these trends include:

  1. Digital HR
  2. Networks of expertise
  3. HR culture
  4. People analytics and workforce management

Each of these topics is discussed in greater detail below.

Topic 1: Digital HR

Digital technology is disrupting business models, operational processes, and talent engagement, fundamentally transforming the way in which organizations function. In this context, a profoundly different HR incorporates design thinking; behavioral economics; and social, mobile, analytics, and cloud (SMAC) technologies to enhance worker experiences and increase the value they bring to organizations.[1]

The application of new technologies does not make HR digital, however. Digital HR should also align culture, talent, structure, and processes to balance efficiency and innovation, as well as to sustain measurable impact on the greater organization as it continuously transforms.

In a series of research reports, bulletins, case studies, and webinars, we will explore the operating models, service delivery approaches, and technology platforms—including robotic process automation—that can lead to an effective digital HR strategy. We will also look closely at ways to apply design thinking, a new approach to delivering engaging experiences for HR’s diverse set of customers.

Topic 2: Networks of Expertise

Our research shows that in order to be able to keep up with an accelerating pace of change in business, the delivery of HR expertise and services is increasingly distributed throughout organizations. Dynamic and flexible networks of HR expertise are replacing the old centers of excellence in a move toward agility, innovation, and better integration with the business. These networks help unify HR and extend throughout and beyond the organization, coalescing around specific challenges and opportunities as they arise in the business. Through a series of research reports, case studies, and webinars, we’ll probe into the structure, dynamics, and governance associated with these networks, as well as their impact in organizations.

Topic 3: HR Culture

Organizational culture comprises the values, beliefs, behaviors, and reward systems that influence day-to-day life within organizations. Culture is particularly important during times of disruption and transformation, and is a top leadership priority for organizations around the globe.[2] HR plays a critical role in shaping organizational culture, often assuming leadership of cultural initiatives and change management efforts. But what about the culture within HR itself? What type of culture allows HR to foster impact? And how does the wrong culture hold HR back? We propose that the right HR culture, measured correctly and aligned with the greater organizational culture, can drive digital transformation and generate significant returns for the enterprise. We will present this hypothesis in greater detail in a brief research bulletin and we will explore it further in our Digital HR and High-Impact HR research studies.

Topic 4: People Analytics & Workforce Management

Employee and contingent worker data represents a great source of untapped data in business, and the trend toward data-driven HR continues at a rapid pace. As a result, organizations are aggressively pursuing strategies to capture worker data and connect it to business outcomes in order to help them fully understand and maximize the value people bring to the enterprise.

In addition, people analytics is becoming the new normal for organizations; once reserved for highly specialized experts, this discipline is maturing into a core skills set for HR professionals. During the coming year, we will be conducting a new High-Impact People Analytics study that explores the ways in which top organizations are developing their people analytics functions, as well as the tools and technologies that support them. We will also explore strategies and technologies designed to optimize the return on labor investments and deployment of people in a shifting talent market.


Over the next 12 months, we will explore the emerging components of sustainable High-Impact HR by engaging Bersin members, Deloitte practitioners, and other stakeholders with our research agenda of qualitative and quantitative studies. Incorporated into all the topics above are the tools and technologies with the power to enable and catalyze the revolutionary transformation of HR. Our efforts will culminate in a new High-Impact HR research study and Maturity Model, scheduled for release during the Summer of 2017.

Now is the time for HR to lead. In so many cases, we have a proverbial seat at the table, the CEO’s ear, and an unprecedented demand for expertise and execution on people-related matters. We have to take bold, informed action in order to effectively generate the value and avoid the pitfalls associated with massive change. Bersin by Deloitte HR research will help show the way.

We’re always looking for feedback and new ideas. If you’re an HR leader working on any of these topics, please email me at jmike@deloitte.com to ask questions and share ideas.

In addition, we’d like to invite you to participate in the Bersin Research Exchange, sharing your leading practices and receiving research-based rewards such reports, diagnostics, and white papers. Please register here: http://tiny.cc/BREHR.


[1] Global Human Capital Trends 2016: The new organization—Different by design, Deloitte Consulting LLP and Deloitte University Press, 2016, http://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/HumanCapital/gx-dup-global-human-capital-trends-2016.pdf.

[2] Ibid.

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This communication contains general information only, and none of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, its member firms, or their related entities (collectively, the “Deloitte Network”) is, by means of this communication, rendering professional advice or services. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your finances or your business, you should consult a qualified professional adviser. No entity in the Deloitte Network shall be responsible for any loss whatsoever sustained by any person who relies on this communication.

Copyright © 2016 Deloitte Development LLC. All rights reserved.

Jeff Mike

Vice President, Human Resources Research Leader / Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP

Jeff leads HR research for Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP. An expert in building the capabilities of corporate HR teams, Jeff transforms HR professionals from process-oriented practitioners into strategic partners who are able to compete in complex global talent markets. His ability to combine research with innovative development activities was honed through experience as a faculty member in human resources development at Al Akhawayn University in Morocco. Also former head of human capital at IMPAQ International, Jeff has a bachelor of arts in English literature from the University of Washington, a master of science in organizational development and strategic human resources from Johns Hopkins University, and a doctorate in human and organizational learning from The George Washington University.

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