Digital transformation in businesses demands employee upskilling

by Contributor03 Oct 2017
A whopping 96% of companies in Singapore believe the skill shortage epidemic will impact their operations in the year ahead. Bernard Solomon, Oracle's head of applications, Malaysia & head of HCM applications, ASEAN, outlines what your company needs to do to keep up

Today, realising the value of digitisation is not just about picking and choosing technologies, but establishing complete integration inside and outside the organisation. Over the years, we have noticed that dynamic digital architectures and a diverse combination of technologies, processes and people allow organisations to make the most of new opportunities. Simply put, companies today need to move beyond simply using digital tools to think, act and being ‘digital’ . To quote Oracle’s CEO, Safra Catz, the hardest part of digital transformation isn’t technology – it’s managing the business through change.  

As one of the integral components in digital transformation, talent and workforce management is crucial. The question we should be asking is – how are we keeping up with technological advances and changes in the organisation? 

Why is talent upskilling crucial – especially for Singapore?

According to a study by recruitment company, Hays Specialist, a whopping 96% of companies in Singapore believe the skill shortage epidemic will impact their operations in the year ahead. In fact, when we drill down to the specifics by looking at only the IT industry, we noticed a shortage of local skilled employees in niche areas as well. In a recent study on Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) adoption by Oracle, Singapore was seen with 21 per cent of in-house IT teams reporting a lack of skilled employees to embed IaaS in their company.

Fortunately, the Singapore government has put in place measures to help companies and employees upskill to future-proof themselves in this digital age. For example, “SMEs Go Digital” is a programme aimed at helping SMEs to use digital technologies to strengthen their capabilities in tech to better participate in the digital economy.  

As the economy transforms itself in the digital age, these initiatives will ensure that the Singapore workforce is ready, resilient to disruption, and competitive in the global market; and that employees remain relevant and are ahead of the changing workforce and economy.

Although we are still in the early days of automation, artificial intelligence and smart devices, these technologies will only gain traction rapidly as they help companies discover new ways to work faster and more efficiently, helping customers to interact with them in a more fluid way. For the HR department, the challenge will be to ensure employees develop the necessary skills to make the most of new tools and processes.  

HR’s role in a company’s digital transformation 

The incorporation of the cloud, mobile, social, big data, and digital consumer experiences into Human Capital Management (HCM) technology is disrupting how organisations manage and engage with their workforce. Today’s modern chief human resources officers (CHROs) are using new ways of managing people to support an agile workplace where people can quickly access knowledge and data to get their jobs done efficiently. 

One example is Fuji Xerox (Asia Pacific) – the company was looking to update its own HR operations to help facilitate a widespread organisation-wide transformation from a manufacturer of printing devices to a document solutions/services company. This required new employee skillsets as well as a new organisational mindset. The company was also looking for greater insights into the skills, competencies and aspirations of all employees, especially its high performers. 

Fuji Xerox started by aligning its HR transformation initiative to its overall business strategies, followed by reviewing all people-related policies and procedures to ensure consistency across geographic borders. With the support of Oracle’s cloud-based HCM system, Fuji Xerox was able to relieve unnecessary transactional processes and administrative work from the HR team, allowing them to focus on strategic work which is imperative to the overall success of the company. It also made it easy for the company to manage employment, positions and jobs, including global assignments, on a single platform.  

Transforming talent into a high-performing workforce: Build or hire strategy

The ideal strategy for HR depends on which skills and talents are most critical for executing the strategies that achieve the goals of the business. Based on talent evaluations, businesses can decide whether they want to groom existing staff or whether they need to introduce new talent into the fold. The optimal answer might be a combination of both strategies, so companies may want to reassign priorities and timeframes to determine their initial focus. 

At Oracle, we have rethought the business of talent management and have designed a system to support HR’s shift from administrative to strategic. Areas such as performance management have been redesigned away from manual tracking of papers, forms, and ratings and moved toward strategic growth and development activity with feedback and ongoing goals. Our Oracle Talent Management Cloud provides end-to-end talent management in a single system so that HR can do the following: 
  • Drive a strategic, end-to-end talent management strategy with a single, integrated system for all talent-related activities
  • Find, grow, and develop key talent with modern talent management
  • Align individual goals with corporate goals
  • Leverage social media and mobile technology to broaden recruiting reach, generate high-quality employee referrals, and increase employee engagement 
Let’s be clear: this isn’t a far-off dream. The tools for employers to get deeper and truer insights about employees are available today. Those that choose to use these will find they understand their staff better and as a result will find ways to get the best out of them.


Bernard Solomon is Oracle's head of applications, Malaysia & head of HCM applications, ASEAN. Bernard is responsible for all pillars within the Application business that covers Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Customer Experience (CX) and Human Capital Management (HCM). Bernard joined Oracle in 2017, as the Head of Human Capital Management - ASEAN. As Head of Human Capital Management – ASEAN, Bernard was responsible for growing the HCM and cloud adoption in the ASEAN region. 

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