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The future of enterprise demands a new future of HR

Reimagining human resources

Disruptive forces are sharply changing how we live and work, creating an imperative for enterprises to rapidly adapt. But there are several areas where the pace of change has yet to catch up with the new realities of business. Chief HR officers and their teams must take the lead with agility and sustain exponential value for the future of human resources.

The changing enterprise

Enterprises are fundamentally shifting with new business models, technologies, and changing expectations of—and by—the workforce. Often, HR teams are left straddling the needs of the legacy organization while planning for the needs of the future.

This creates unprecedented opportunity for HR to play a new and vital role in shaping the way enterprises compete, access talent, and show up in the communities where they operate. Enterprises can compete—and succeed—by changing entire business models in the field, product and services development, sales, production, leadership teams, and back office. And, of course, in the HR suite.

Disruption is creating three key futures that HR must address:

The future of the enterprise, accelerated by a tsunami of data that has increased by more than nine times over the past two years, the shortening lifespan of S&P 500 companies now a mere average of 15 years, and the expectations of businesses that are trusted more than governments by people around the world.

The future of the workforce, which sees the length of careers increasing to as much as 50 years at the same time that the half-life of skills has diminished to between 2 and 5.5 years, and the rapid rise of the open talent economy with more than 40 percent of the workforce estimated to be contingent by 2020.

The future of how work gets done, enabled by digitalization that fundamentally changes how humans work together as networked and adaptable teams and with their emerging machine coworkers to create massive value for customers, the enterprise—and create new roles for workers we have yet to even imagine.

HR must step into a new future by shifting in four areas

Many HR leaders have renamed their functions, using terms such as "employee experience," "people," and others to signal a shift in brand. Words matter, and this isn't the first time that the rebranding of "HR" has happened at major inflection points in the history of the function.

Of course, a fresh brand can easily backfire without fundamental changes to the business outcomes that HR drives. The challenges that come with the three futures described above are plentiful. Yet with challenge comes opportunity, and HR has the chance to drive tangible impact as organizations face the futures of enterprise, workforce, and how work gets done.


From doing digital to being digital. Embracing new traits and behaviors will allow the entrprise to thrive in the digital age. As artificial intelligence, robotics, and cognitive solutions grow in sophistication, organizations must reconsider how they design jobs, organize work, and plan for the future growth.


From center-driven to human-centered solutions. Applying personalization to the entire enterprise workforce will supercharge employee-centered solutions. The future of HR focuses on driving tangible, measureable value across the enterprise that's both qualitative and quantitative. 


From compliance and control to trust and empowerment. Adopting a high-impact HR operating model lets organizations flex based on dynamic business needs. The future of HR demands a strong ecosystem of trusted partners to build upon and enable internal capabilities with speed, while creating new channels for talent and innovation.


From integrated systems to a unified engagement platform. Deploying advanced technologies promotes productivity and simplicity of experience. Robotic process automation, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, machine learning, and social collaboration allow organizations to truly reinvent rather than automate.

There’s no single path to driving value through HR. Your route will be unique to your journey. In today’s disruptive world, it may be the path less traveled that leads you to the ultimate destination. What will be your route?

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