“We have to remember that we are not IT people, we are digital HR people. For me, those are different skillsets,” Tonkin told HRD.
“HR professionals often try to assess themelves as IT people and concern themselves with things like whether or not they understand how the cloud operates - they try to talk like an IT person.
“I think it’s more important to be a digital HR professional and that is about understanding how to change the organisation and the culture to be more digital.”
Too often HR lets the IT function talk in the digital space, yet HR has the right to be a very strong voice in this area, Tonkin added.
Moreover, Tonkin said that in this age of fast-paced technology and innovation a lot of organisations are currently talking about agility and responsiveness.
“The main focus of change in these organisations is around speed and how quickly they need to support the organisation, be agile and create a new way of working,” he said.
“It’s essential to have that integration of HR systems or HR processes because if you don’t have it you are going to be managing all the fragmentation within your HR function.
“That just slows you down and you cannot respond quickly enough because your underpinning infrastructure doesn’t always allow you to do that.
“It’s also about trying to get that consistently great employee experience and that is where integration really pays dividends in an organisation.”
Tonkin added that HR can be a major beneficiary of disruption and innovation.
“I think depending on your company and its maturity, the decision I would make as an HR professional is to apply the technology to the area that is going to have the greatest return on your employee experience,” he said.
He added that, particularly in the HR space, people like to ask questions, use their mobile phones and hear a voice.
“When I say ‘voice’ I mean several things: using voice to collect feedback, for automated responses, for approvals, asking questions and receiving the answer back in a voice.
“So it’s really cutting edge to use voice as a tool for automation.”
HR has often been criticised in recent times for not keeping their capabilities up-to-date in the digital space. However, it’s important to consider the context around what the HR role actually is, according to Rowan Tonkin, Senior Director HR transformations, Aus/NZ at Oracle.