e-vangelist: Forget the hype, make it happen

Have you noticed that everyone is involved in a major, hush-hush e-business or e-commerce initiative that will change the way they do business, transform their organisation and their careers? Your company will be no exception.

The most important factor in any such project is people. Do they have the collective mindset to succeed in the new world? Above all, can your organisation unify its resources, focus and energies around these mission-critical projects, on which the future of your company will depend?

This is great news for HR leaders, who can take on a powerful, new coordinating role, ensuring key people are recruited, retained and motivated. By working closely with IT and marketing you can bring together the thinking in your organisation like never before, increase your personal and departmental profile and ensure success.

Too many organisations are not involving HR in these plans – that is a huge mistake. I know of companies that are full of internal politics and power struggles about who “owns” e-business. Such an attitude sounds the death knell for the future. The whole company must own these projects.

While IT is outstandingly placed to make new technology initiatives succeed, and marketing understands the customer imperative, HR can adopt a strong, coordinating, cultural role. These three departments, supplemented by external skills, can translate all of the industry hype into commercial reality.

Window of opportunity

If you are bypassed in planning and discussions on e-initiatives, you must act quickly. The window of opportunity for e-business to succeed is short, possibly only three months.

But just as it is not enough to moan and shout that IT should, or has, an automatic right to be involved, HR leaders and teams also have to earn that acceptance.

There are proven ways to achieve this: come up with the answers yourselves; make a joint board level presentation with IT and marketing on the possibilities that e-business holds for you as an organisation. Include real bottom line benefits in the areas of increased revenue, improved information and knowledge and/or closer alignment with your customers.

Place people at the heart of everything – become a passionate champion of new thinking in your company by leading a programme of cultural transformation.

• Schedule an external speaker to ignite your board’s interest in its possibilities. Make sure the importance of people and a one-company approach are emphasised.

• Find out what your rivals are doing, and tell your CEO – make him/her paranoid.

• Use this exciting new world as an opportunity to rename, reinvent and reposition HR.

The front page headline in a recent issue of The Economist was, “Who owns the knowledge economy?” The answer is everybody who takes action and brings together the various strands of the Internet, technology and new business culture. As an HR leader, you are perfectly placed to do this.

If you are not at the heart of your organisation’s thinking, planning and delivery, you are at the heart of nothing.

David Taylor is president of the association of IT directors, Certus. david.taylor@dtaltd.co.uk

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