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4 steps to ensure your workforce is ready for IR 4.0

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The region’s most innovative HR technology conference, HR Tech Interactive 2019, Singapore, was held at Shangri-La Hotel on 1 August 2019.

This year’s conference was produced by Low Yee Ching and saw more than 100 attendees sharing industry ideas through a series of interactive sessions, keynote presentations, and a panel discussion. [check out some of the event photos]

From the on-site conversations, we gained insight into the four key steps to ensure the workforce is ready for IR 4.0.

Step 1: Do not only focus on technology

Despite AI being the buzzword today, for organisations to see an entirely new performance, leaders need to shift the focus away from just the technology aspect. Instead, they should focus on harmonising the strength of human cognitive intelligence and machines like AI.

To redefine work to fit the new future we are heading into, organisations have to look beyond cost savings – cutting jobs by making machines more productive. To prevent from being vulnerable to competitors who only rely on tech, it is necessary to work towards a symbiotic relationship between AI and humans. Enabling people to work together with machines to harness the human potential will enable us to produce results that exceed what either can achieve alone.

To do so, tech adoption shouldn’t just be driven by the CIO, it should be a multi-disciplinary effort. HR needs to be a strategic partner to the C-suite. HR will play a huge role including facilitating the implementation of tech into the workforce, pre-empting skills gaps, implementing the corporate vision, forming talent clusters to facilitate the strategic vision of the board, and advising on cultural issues into the workforce.

Instead of following the latest trends when implementing new systems, HR leaders should ensure the system implemented is the best fit for their individual organisation.

Step 2: Select the right technology and the right vendors

While organisations should not focus solely on technology, it cannot be denied that technology is an integral part of moving into IR 4.0. Having the right technology for your organisation will be crucial to business success.

However, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. What works for one organisation may not work for another. Hence, instead of following the latest trends when implementing new systems, HR leaders should ensure the system implemented is the best fit for their individual organisation.

When building a tech stack for the organisation, research and categorise, then organise the findings and identify the aspect of HR it helps.

When organising, it can be helpful to create a table with the following details: category, HR aspect/stage of the process, vendor, focus, offering, status, feedback and pricing. This will help in organising thoughts as well as presenting the findings to stakeholders.

Before picking something, it is crucial to come to a consensus on whether the organisation needs an integrated system or a best of breed system. Look at what is needed, what is available, the drivers and the risks, as well as consider if the organisation should ‘wait and see’ or ‘act now’.

Throughout the process, bear in mind carefully and slowly (but not too slowly) select what works best for the organisation, instead of focusing on being the first mover. Not being a first mover has its advantages as well, since there are precedents to learn from.

Get management buy in and get them to be the champions by showing them how it will affect the bottom line.

Step 3: Change the mindsets of management and employees

Organisations need to recognise that digital transformation is not about the latest technology, but more about having the right mindset and embracing change in organisational culture.

Make sure people are ready and that they understand why change is needed. Get management buy in and get them to be the champions by showing them how it will affect the bottom line.

Ensure you share with them (management and employees) how they can apply the new technology to their daily lives and bring the value proposition that it will ease their workflow.

For instance, if it’s just another KPI for them, their heart might not be in it; but if it frees up one hour of their time, employees will be more inclined to adopt it.

If intelligent systems are being introduced, it is natural that workers will fear losing their jobs. To grow trust, leaders should proceed sensitively and gradually when introducing these systems and focus on the human-machine collaboration.

As with every new initiative, don’t forget to set up communication channels to get feedback.

Step 4: Encourage a culture of lifelong learning

With IR 4.0 bringing in new technologies, jobs will be lost and created. An estimated 75 million jobs will be lost; at the same time, approximately 133 million will be created.

When new technologies are introduced, people will be scared of losing their jobs. This is where HR comes in. It is HR’s role to help these people reskill to take advantage of the new jobs that will be created.

To bridge the skill and competency gaps, every company should be a learning company. This means there has to be a culture of continuous learning and learning has to be self-directed.

HR can help by:

  • Ensuring learning is just in time, not just in case.
  • Making learning accessible. This can be done via mobile learning platforms.
  • Creating easily consumable content.
  • Ensuring learning is agile. With the decreasing knowledge half-life, we have to stop creating programmes that takes months to build.
  • Implementing peer-to-peer and team learning, as well as micro learning, instead of just sending people to formal training programmes.

Apart from upskilling the workforce, HR leaders also need to equip themselves with new skillsets. They have to know the technology – at least enough to be able to tell the tech guys what they want the system to look like.

Some believe in the saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” But, that cannot be further from the truth. As long as employees keep the spirit of lifelong learning, it shouldn’t be difficult for them to pick up new skills and move into new job areas.


This knowledge was shared at the Human Resources Online’s conference, HR Tech Interactive 2019, Singapore. To know more and attend such events, please visit: http://www.humanresourcesonline.net/events/.


Presenters, panelists, and moderators at HR Tech Interactive 2019, Singapore included:

  • VJ Posadas, General Manager for APAC, Arctic Shores
  • Jocelyn Chan, HR Director, Aspial Corporation
  • Eric Low Chung Yuen, Head of Human Resources, Carlsberg Singapore
  • Rachel Chew, HR & Corporate Affairs Director, Durapower Holdings
  • Helen Sigalas, Director & Head of Learning, Ericsson Southeast Asia, Oceania and India
  • Luke Ng, Chief Operating Officer, Fuji Xerox Singapore (pictured above)
  • Adele Png, Head of Talent Acquisition, Asia Pacific, Kone
  • Ramani Amar, Talent Director, Mccann Worldgroup Singapore
  • Seema Balani – Global Talent Acquisition Lead, NTT
  • Terrence Ng, Head of Human Resource, PetroChina International
  • Leon Kwang, Global Lead, TA Innovations & Talent Research, Philips
  • Alan Sumano, Global Director, People Analytics, Schneider Electric
  • Karen Lim, Country Director and Head of Human Resources for Singapore, Schneider Electric
  • Sebastian Schwab, Senior Vice President Human Resources for APAC, Siemens Healthineers
  • Tan Lee Choo, VP, People Operations and Employee Experience, Singtel
  • Alvin Goh, Global Head of HR Projects and Processes, Sivantos Group
  • Jaclyn Lee, Chief Human Resources Officer, SUTD
  • Pauline Loo, Vice President Human Resources, Taiyo Nippon Sanso Holdings
  • Suresh Rai, Vice President of HR for South East Asia & Australasia, Unilever Singapore

Photo / Jerene Ang, Deputy Editor, Human Resources Online hosting a fireside chat with Luke Ng, Chief Operating Officer, Fuji Xerox Singapore


Human Resources Online would like to thank all its sponsors and partners who have supported this event:

Silver sponsor:

  • Arctic Shores

Exhibitors: 

  • Ramco Systems
  • Unit4


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