September 02, 2019
Post-digital SAP: Building a tech-augmented future workforce
By: Stéphane Martin

This blog series has so far focused on how the post-digital age will redefine the technological capabilities of companies and change how they relate to their customers (see also Accenture's Technology Vision for SAP Solutions 2019).

For the SAP customers we work with day to day, the way SAP solutions and technologies can support this change is obviously fundamental. But, in fact, this is about much more than technology. It brings into play questions about process, individual mindsets, corporate culture, and how the whole organization meets the post-digital needs of its people.

#FutureWorkforce demands more “human” experiences—Stéphane Martin on the role of #SAP solutions in a #TechVision2019 blog:


Like much of the post-digital agenda, it’s all about “human-centricity.” Ultimately, this involves blending the best of digital and post-digital technology with the best of the human workforce. It means having a culture that uses technology to augment and elevate employee capabilities, rather than simply trying to upskill or even replace them.

Building a radically human workplace

Post-digital AI technologies like natural language processing, computer vision, voice recognition, and machine learning mean systems are starting to talk, listen, see, and understand the world much like people do.

By leveraging or extending SAP capabilities, companies can seamlessly connect these technologies into their core enterprise systems and use them to change the way their workforces interact with machines. That means creating radically simpler, more natural, more “human” kinds of employee-centric experiences.

Chatbots are a great example of how these experiences will evolve. Our Liquid Studio for SAP Solutions built HERBOT, a conversational chatbot which connects into SAP SuccessFactors, answering employees’ HR questions and performing actions on their behalf.

It’s already a great experience for employees. But the possibilities go much deeper here. Instead of asking a chatbot a simple question like “how much vacation do I have left?,” imagine being able to ask something far more complex, like “when’s the best time for me to use my remaining vacation?”

With an intelligent post-digital system linked into the enterprise core, you’d be able to get an answer to that question that analyzed all the relevant data—your current projects, any upcoming projects that might need your input, important events, your clients’ own availability, and much, much more.

The impact on enterprise efficiency could be huge. And, what’s more, this is not some far-fetched future concept. It’s entirely possible to build these kinds of capabilities today using SAP solutions and technologies.

Intelligent human capital management

Post-digital technologies won’t just change what employees do and how they work, they’ll change how they’re recruited and upskilled too. And in a world where highly skilled talent is in such short supply, anything which gives a business an edge here will be vital.

In recruitment, companies can use AI tools to screen employee resumés at scale, addressing potential gender and other imbalances by correcting for known biases and focusing on objective attributes and complementary skills.

With extended reality and gamification, recruitment teams can assess problem solving and employee curiosity in new ways. And by working with third parties, they can extend the talent pool, building new pathways into the organization.

Learning platforms can also be transformed by post-digital technologies, with AI tools used to tailor learning to individual needs, and HR systems connected seamlessly with external partners and third-party learning resources.

Many companies are using extended reality to create more interesting and more effective learning experiences. Even in a field as complicated as medicine, doctors are finding that immersive training tools are up to 76 percent more effective than traditional classroom learning.*

One important point: I believe it’s vital that the learning companies offer their workforces goes beyond just mastering new technologies. In a radically human, post-digital world, interpersonal skills are becoming even more important to employees than they already are—and learning programs need to reflect this.

Understanding employees on a new level

Just as they look to understand their customers on a much deeper level, post-digital companies will develop a far more rounded profile of each of their employees: their skills, their preferences, their ambitions, their career hopes, and more.

This is where SAP customers can use Qualtrics to really differentiate themselves. By embedding feedback and insights into everyday processes, and applying analytics to unstructured sentiment data (from both internal and external sources), they can understand their employees in a far more profound way.

That deeper understanding will be essential in organizing the post-digital enterprise, identifying in-demand skillsets among the workforce, bringing people together to solve particular business problems or develop new solutions, and sensing and responding to changing employee sentiments.

This will be also be key to retaining your best people, and offering them a personalized career path based on deep insights into their real needs (rather than simply what you assume their needs to be).

In this post, I’ve tried to sketch out how employee experiences are about to change dramatically. It’s a very different kind of workplace than many are used to right now. But I believe it reflects the new workforce reality as we move from the digital to the post-digital age.

Next time, I'll explain why I think that trust and security represent the foundation which underpins all this—and everything else—in the post-digital organization.

* Source: Stanford University Research