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Katherine Jones


Partner and Director of Talent Research

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The Journey to Digitization: The Executive View


The Plainspeak Analyst is Katherine Jones, Partner and Director of Talent Research at Mercer, the world’s largest human resources consulting firm. Her job is to design and deliver insight research and services to Mercer’s global clients. She was previously VP, Human Capital Management Technology Research at Bersin by Deloitte. She has a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction from Cornell University.

Investment in human capital management technology continues to grow, with software, most often in the Cloud, addressing the issues of ease of use and mobile access.

Market research firm IDC predicts that spending on HCM and payroll software combined will reach $23 billion by 2020, seeing a steady year over year growth in investment in software to both manage and reward employees.

Rather than a “nice to have,” an HCM investment is recognized as a business imperative.

Corporate executives globally recognize the importance of technology to the future of their businesses.

With aging legacy systems, they face a new world of smarter, faster, and better choices ranging from thinking machines, predictive solutions, robotics, virtual reality, blockchain, voice-activated smart support, and more.

They also face the burden of better securing their digital assets as hackers become both more brazen and more sophisticated.

But few executives consider themselves a true “digital organization” today.

Mercer recently surveyed C-suite executives globally as part of its 2017 Global Talent Trends research.

The majority of executives (61%) see technologies in the workplace as the single workforce-related trend likely to have the most impact on their organization over the next few years. The technologies they see as impactful include robotics, wearables, and AI—those imbued with “machine thinking.”  

Despite the ubiquity of technology both in business and for consumers, executives often say they are lagging in this key area of commercial competitiveness.

They rank their external digital presence ahead of their technology for internal operations — but just slightly. Only 8% consider themselves a digital organization in how they conduct their business externally today.

The majority (97%) of global executives perceives the necessity of technology in their employees’ experience at work, yet just 7% see their internal HR organizations as capable of shaping a digital experience for their employees.

In this global study, German companies stood out for recognizing the importance of technology for their future almost twice as much as their peers worldwide. More companies in Asia deemed themselves a digital organization today (18%) than the global average of only 8%.

The readiness for the journey to digital varies by location.

Of all the countries studied, HR professionals in UK companies see themselves as least prepared to use technology to collaborate.

HR members in Australia and Japan report the least digital support for employee interaction with HR, unlike Canadian HR organizations, which report that nearly everything related to HR-employee relations is available digitally.

While only 10% of executives strongly agree that their HR organizations provide a digital experience for their employees, close to one-quarter of Asian executives strongly agreed this was provided.

Among US responding executives, 39% said that the digital HR experience provided to employees is “consumer-grade.” 

On another note, technical talent to support corporate transformational initiatives is viewed as an over-supply in India and severely under-supplied in China.

The results of the digital effort are impressive..

Mercer research of high vs. low performing HR organizations demonstrates the value from an investment in an optimal mix of HCM technologies both to procure key metrics for driving strategic decision support and delivering consumer-level HR experiences for managers and employees. 

These high-performing HR organizations realize significant results through analytics and technology when compared to their lower-performing peers. (See “How HR Needs to Change,” by Karen Shellenback, Mercer Select Intelligence, 2017 for more detailed information on the traits of high performing HR organizations.)

One Response

  1. Due to digital and modern
    Due to digital and modern technology, we have found some growth in our business and professional field. Most of the business organizations are taking the help of different digital strategy to grow their business and it is the best way to reach their business customers and market their business. Digital media is now playing a crucial role in our business and personal success. Thanks for highlighting such important issues.

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Katherine Jones

Partner and Director of Talent Research

Read more from Katherine Jones

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