Why CHROs are earliest adopters of digital platforms

HR chiefs are leading the charge, but need to align on priorities with their C-suite peers

CHROs are more bullish on enterprise digital platforms than any other C-level executive, including CIOs. According to a new ESI/ServiceNow survey, 77% of CHROs say that digital platforms are significantly or vitally important to their company’s success, compared to 57% of CIOs and 40% of CEOs.

While that 20 percentage point gap may be surprising to some, it suggests that digitization isn’t about technology but instead about improving human connection and work outcomes. Integrating data, applications, and employee workflows on a single digital platform is critical, for instance, in processes like employee onboarding, which cuts across IT, finance, operations, and legal business functions.

As the chief designers of employee experience, HR leaders are uniquely situated to recognize, and evangelize for, the value of digital platforms. They’re also attuned to what emerging talent wants from prospective employers.

“Gen Z and Gen Y-ers who are coming into the workforce are digital natives, and they expect a consumer-level digital experience where they work,” says Matt Parrish, director of digital talent experiences at ServiceNow.

The ESI survey reveals some of the main reasons why CHROs have become the biggest digital-platform advocates in the C-suite.

Major platform benefits

  • Boosting collaboration: 73% of CHROs say cloud-based digital platforms are improving collaboration across the company, compared to 61% of all other executives.
  • Broader adoption of new tech: Three out of four CHROs believe that digital platforms are promoting enterprisewide adoption of AI and automation.
  • Faster upskilling: More than half of CHROs credit platforms with allowing the business to equip its workforce with the right digital skills to succeed.
  • Customer experience benefits: CHROs also see those benefits getting passed along to consumers. More than half of CHROs believe that, thanks to digital platforms, their companies provide more personalized customer experiences.

The platform ‘priority gap’

While all senior execs are generally enthusiastic about digital platforms, CHROs diverge from their peers when it comes to deciding where the greatest immediate needs are for platform integration of workflows over the next three years.

CHROs are looking for where they can scale talent through automation, digitization, and workflow integration.

This “priority gap” is a window into how companies will wrestle with strategic investment in digital platforms in the coming years. It also highlights how they are leveraging talent strategy to increase revenue, decrease inefficiencies, and innovate for the future.

Here’s a look at where CHROs prioritize which workflows to integrate into their digital platforms and how their priorities differ from those of the other C-suite executives:

  • Product design and development
    CHROs: 66%
    Others: 38%
  • Procurement, sourcing, and supply chain
    CHROs: 45%
    Others: 23%
  • Finance, accounting, and budget
    CHROs: 70%
    Others: 52%
  • Operations management
    CHROs: 61%
    Others: 46%
  • Employee engagement and training
    CHROs: 55%
    Others: 44%
  • HR and talent management
    CHROs: 41%
    Others: 33%
  • Manufacturing and production
    CHROs: 73%
    Others: 65%

What explains the biggest gaps? Parrish offers one explanation: “HR is seeking efficiencies,” he says. “CHROs are looking for where they can scale talent through automation, digitization, and workflow integration.”

CHROs, he adds, are keenly aware that digital platforms can save HR resources in the supply chain, finance, marketing, and other areas. “If they find those savings, then they don’t need to grow their workforce in proportion to the growth of the company,” says Parrish.

In the eyes of CHROs, at least, one thing is clear: They see digital platforms as a primary means of corporate success for years to come.