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Why HR must lead in evolution of business

HR needs to become better equipped to lead an organisation’s people through change as they need to build a more agile workforce that is ready to adjust, writes ANJA VAN BEEK of Sage International.

Most organisations are under pressure to evolve their businesses at a faster pace as they try to get in step with rapid changes in the business landscape, technology and customer behaviour.

That means HR departments, too, need to become better equipped to lead the organisation’s people through constant and rapid change. They need to build a more agile workforce that is ready to adjust to the evolving needs of the market. This goes beyond offering people flexible working arrangements such as flexible hours or the ability to work from home.

It is about helping to shift the organisational culture to one that embraces learning, change and innovation. It is also about recruiting, developing and retaining people who thrive in a changing world – chameleon workers who can adapt to change, learn new skills in a short space of time and seamlessly move from assignment to assignment.

The HR department of the future must thus shift its focus from reducing risk and managing red-tape towards a highly strategic role of guiding change, improving agility, and ultimately driving higher performance.

Here are a few ideas about how HR must evolve in the years to come:

 Accommodate a more fluid workforce

The way that businesses structure their workforces is changing as they begin to source more of their talent through freelancers, crowdsourcing, and other approaches that give employees and companies more flexibility. What’s more, we can also expect to see a further churn in the workforce as more young professionals join an organisation to take part in a project or achieve a specific career goal – and then leave after two to three years.

Even within the walls of the business, we can expect to see teams become more fluid as people are brought together for specific projects and initiatives, and then disbanded so they can move to other parts of the business. In a sense, many parts of the business will follow the same sort of ‘gig economy’ model as movie studios and agencies, building bespoke and sometimes virtual teams of in-house and external skills for each project.

HR teams will need to facilitate this shift, making it easier for managers to source and develop the talent when they need it and where they need it.

For example, they might build databases of skills that they share with managers and facilitate talent exchange programmes between different business units and departments.

Create flexible career options

In an agile workforce, HR will need to rethink how it develops career paths, salary bands and job descriptions. It will need to support managers and their teams as they organically develop their own roles and tasks, often on a project-by-project basis. This will also mean new ways of measuring performance and rewarding employees that meet the needs of a changing workplace.

For example, tech companies like Google allow engineers to spend some of their workday working on passion projects and innovative ideas rather than making them spend all their time on a narrowly defined scope. This has the benefit of creating new ideas for the business and keeping employees engaged – in turn, helping with talent retention.

Facilitate a culture of innovation

HR departments play an important role in shaping organisational culture – from helping to source talent to supporting change management and designing rewards and incentive programmes. To support a more agile business, they need to look at how and where they source talent; how they reward and incentivise the right behaviour; how they support managers and employees through their tools and processes; and how they measure performance.

Develop a learning organisation rather than a ‘training strategy’

One of the major challenges HR face is helping the business and the workforce keep up with the rapid pace of change in today’s digital world. With mobile technology, the cloud, analytics, blockchain and the Internet of Things changing the world so rapidly, companies and their workforces need to learn fast.

This means that HR departments need to look beyond rigid learning programmes towards creating a culture where continuous learning is valued. This is all about creating opportunities for mentorship, providing on-the-job learning opportunities, and responding quickly when new skills are needed.

Closing words

Integrated HR management systems play an important role in helping HR departments become more agile and to provide their businesses with strategic support. They automate red-tape so that HR professionals can focus on where they can add value, and they provide data and analytics tools to support agile decision-making.

In a time of seismic technological change, Sage is focused on using the smartest technology to reinvent and simplify HR processes and this has made us an indispensable business partner to our customers.

* Anja van Beek, Vice President for People, Sage International

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Veeam passes $1bn, prepares for cloud’s ‘Act II’

Leader in cloud-data management reveals how it will harness the next growth phase of the data revolution, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

Veeam Software, the quiet leader in backup solutions for cloud data management,has announced that it has passed $1-billion in revenues, and is preparing for the next phase of sustained growth in the sector.

Now, it is unveiling what it calls Act II, following five years of rapid growth through modernisation of the data centre. At the VeeamON 2019conferencein Miami this week, company co-founder Ratmir Timashev declared that the opportunities in this new era, focused on managing data for the hybrid cloud, would drive the next phase of growth.

“Veeam created the VMware backup market and has dominated it as the leader for the last decade,” said Timashev, who is also executive vice president for sales and marketing at the organisation. “This was Veeam’s Act I and I am delighted that we have surpassed the $1 billion mark; in 2013 I predicted we’d achieve this in less than six years. 

“However, the market is now changing. Backup is still critical, but customers are now building hybrid clouds with AWS, Azure, IBM and Google, and they need more than just backup. To succeed in this changing environment, Veeam has had to adapt. Veeam, with its 60,000-plus channel and service provider partners and the broadest ecosystem of technology partners, including Cisco, HPE, NetApp, Nutanix and Pure Storage, is best positioned to dominate the new cloud data management in our Act II.”

In South Africa, Veeam expects similar growth. Speaking at the Cisco Connect conference in Sun City this week, country manager Kate Mollett told Gadget’s BRYAN TURNER that the company was doing exceptionally well in this market.

“In financial year 2018, we saw double-digit growth, which was really very encouraging if you consider the state of the economy, and not so much customer sentiment, but customers have been more cautious with how they spend their money. We’ve seen a fluctuation in the currency, so we see customers pausing with big decisions and hoping for a recovery in the Rand-Dollar. But despite all of the negatives, we have double digit growth which is really good. We continue to grow our team and hire.

“From a Veeam perspective, last year we were responsible for Veeam Africa South, which consisted of South Africa, SADC countries, and the Indian Ocean Islands. We’ve now been given the responsibility for the whole of Africa. This is really fantastic because we are now able to drive a single strategy for Africa from South Africa.”

Veeam has been the leading provider of backup, recovery and replication solutions for more than a decade, and is growing rapidly at a time when other players in the backup market are struggling to innovate on demand.

“Backup is not sexy and they made a pretty successful company out of something that others seem to be screwing up,” said Roy Illsley, Distinguished Analyst at Ovum, speaking in Miami after the VeeamOn conference. “Others have not invested much in new products and they don’t solve key challenges that most organisations want solved. Theyre resting on their laurels and are stuck in the physical world of backup instead of embracing the cloud.”

Illsley readily buys into the Veeam tagline. “It just works”. 

“They are very good at marketing but are also a good engineering comany that does produce the goods. Their big strength, that it just works, is a reliable feature they have built into their product portfolio.”

Veeam said in statement from the event that, while it had initially focused on server virtualisation for VMware environments, in recent years it had expanded this core offering. It was now delivering integration with multiple hypervisors, physical servers and endpoints, along with public and software-as-a-service workloads, while partnering with leading cloud, storage, server, hyperconverged (HCI) and application vendors.

This week, it  announced a new “with Veeam”program, which brings in enterprise storage and hyperconverged (HCI) vendors to provide customers with comprehensive secondary storage solutions that combine Veeam software with industry-leading infrastructure systems. Companies like ExaGrid and Nutanix have already announced partnerships.

Timashev said: “From day one, we have focused on partnerships to deliver customer value. Working with our storage and cloud partners, we are delivering choice, flexibility and value to customers of all sizes.”

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‘Energy scavenging’ funded

As the drive towards a 5G future gathers momentum, the University of Surrey’s research into technology that could power countless internet enabled devices – including those needed for autonomous cars – has won over £1M from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and industry partners.

Surrey’s Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) has been working on triboelectric nanogenerators (TENG), an energy harvesting technology capable of ‘scavenging’ energy from movements such as human motion, machine vibration, wind and vehicle movements to power small electronic components. 

TENG energy harvesting is based on a combination of electrostatic charging and electrostatic induction, providing high output, peak efficiency and low-cost solutions for small scale electronic devices. It’s thought such devices will be vital for the smart sensors needed to enable driverless cars to work safely, wearable electronics, health sensors in ‘smart hospitals’ and robotics in ‘smart factories.’ 

The ATI will be partnered on this development project with the Georgia Institute of Technology, QinetiQ, MAS Holdings, National Physical Laboratory, Soochow University and Jaguar Land Rover. 

Professor Ravi Silva, Director of the ATI and the principal investigator of the TENG project, said: “TENG technology is ideal to power the next generation of electronic devices due to its small footprint and capacity to integrate into systems we use every day. Here at the ATI, we are constantly looking to develop such advanced technologies leading towards our quest to realise worldwide “free energy”.

“TENGs are an ideal candidate to power the autonomous electronic systems for Internet of Things applications and wearable electronic devices. We believe this research grant will allow us to further the design of optimized energy harvesters.”

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