Today, businesses across industries face similar pressures: how to get to market faster, with new products, services and experiences to delight today’s connected and demanding customers. But there’s a challenge. Most organizations are struggling to become as flexible and responsive as they need to be to thrive in this new, dynamic digital world. The good news? A large part of the solution already exists within organizations: talent. To unleash the full potential of their people to power their intelligent enterprise, companies need to proactively reimagine the nature of work itself, the workforce and the role of HR.

Companies are at different stages of digital maturity. Regardless, their strategy needs to include three interlinked objectives:

Reimagine work

Intelligent functions enable the flexibility to organize around customer outcomes and solve priority business challenges, with digitalization and advanced analytics creating a clear view of processes.

Reimagine the workforce

Identify critical skills and the right dynamics for new talent ecosystems: buy (talent acquisition), build (develop workforce skills), borrow (adapt outside enterprise workforce), BOT (robotics/AI).


Reimagine HR

CHROs need to become the chief transformation officer. How? Be a talent architect, experience designer, transformation catalyst.

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Three steps toward the future workforce of an intelligent enterprise


Design engaging experiences for the workforce. Employee experiences must inspire the workforce to bring their best to their work every day by focusing on engagement, retention and productivity. Engagement has two principal dimensions:

  • Moments that matter: From first interview through onboarding, career development and even exiting the business, every experience must count, creating a personal bond across physical, human and digital domains.
  • Hyper-personalization: HR can boost engagement by personalizing activities like career advancement, performance management and learning.


Create and support the workforce of the future by sourcing talent in new ways, reskilling and using predictive intelligence to identify future workforce needs.

  • Adaptive re-skilling: a key dimension of developing the future-ready workforce. Talent shortages prevent companies from adapting and innovating; continuous reskilling is mandatory to remain relevant.


Transform the HR function itself. The goal? To create an integrated HR strategy with digital technologies and a global HR operating model that supports an agile organization equipped to drive new business value. To get started:

  • Comprehensively digitize HR capabilities, including core HR, succession, performance, pay, learning, planning and advising. With a digital foundation—from robotics to predictive analytics—services and strategic support HR functions provide will become more efficient, automated and differentiated
  • Implement a new operating model to ensure HR can produce relevant strategies that drive value and support the agility and responsiveness that are the hallmarks of digital businesses.
By building the new HR on an intelligent platform, companies can completely shift the whole “HR as usual” paradigm.

Enabling the future workforce and agile HR with an intelligent platform

How can companies accelerate their progress? By building the new HR on an intelligent platform. In doing so they can completely shift the whole “HR as usual” paradigm. Focused on decreasing costs and increasing efficiency, it will make HR stronger and leaner. And incorporating new and innovative technologies like chat, advanced analytics, robotics, and AI into HR processes will make HR more effective and agile as well as offering a differentiated employee experience.

This new intelligent platform supports the organization’s evolution to both new digital HR capabilities and the means to shape the workforce of the future. As well as providing a digital foundation with a new HR operating model, Cloud HCM capabilities and new social/collaborative workforce practices, this platform supports differentiated workforce experiences and a new talent architecture that brings people and machines into integrated teams.

Unlocking new opportunity throughout the talent ecosystem

To create and enable the organization and operating model they’ll need to thrive in the digital era, enterprises must reimagine work, the workforce and the role of HR. They must reimagine work by allocating tasks to machines and people, balancing the need for automation with augmentation. They need to deploy new digital tools to train and upskill employees at speed and scale. As important, they must continually seek out opportunities to expand the talent ecosystem, establishing the rules, pools and tools to provide access to the right skills on a project-by-project basis. And they need to offer employees a new set of experiences that will delight them as much as the consumer interactions they encounter every day.

A total workforce and HR transformation is non-negotiable. It requires the whole enterprise to engage in reimagining what work is, how it gets done—and how a more agile organization empowers it.

About the Authors

Melanie Douglas

Managing Director – HR Transformation and Workforce experience

Nick Campbell

Managing Director – SAP services for HR

Les Abernethey

Managing Director – HR Transformation and Workforce experience

David Pereles

Managing Director – SAP Technology for Talent and HR North America


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