Delivering for Best-in-Class Wholesaler-Distributors
February 14, 2019  |  ByJia Wang, NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence Author

One of the greatest disruptors in today’s world is technology. Rapid and continuous technological innovations have fundamentally changed the way we work, forcing organizations to evaluate the way they think about and manage their businesses. As technology continues to automate jobs, and technologically savvy younger generations of employees enter the workplace, the entire process of people management is becoming a digital experience. Despite all the talk about technology and its recognized value in talent management, effective use of these emerging tools is lagging in wholesale distribution.

So, how can you utilize technology to optimize your talent practices? If you have not thought about this question, or are still trying to figure out the answer, here are a few ideas for you.

  1. Workforce planning. Many distributors adopt the need-based approach and project their human capital needs based on personal knowledge. This practice, while it may work in the short term, is largely reactive and highly risky. Technology can help you stay proactive in forecasting your talent needs down the road. For example, Foresight, the world’s first recruitment forecasting technology, provides an accurately predicted recruitment path in the following 12 months. This tool is easy to use, involves organizational members across all levels, provides real-time data, and updates forecasts on a monthly or quarterly basis depending on your company needs. When the right technology solution is applied, workforce planning will become a more factual, data-driven process, rather than a “guesstimate” process.
  2. Talent acquisition. With a younger generation entering the workforce, digital recruiting becomes the new expectation. In today’s mobile work environment where attracting the best minds is more challenging than ever, giving candidates an enriched experience can be a big differentiator for successful hiring. Smart recruiters are capitalizing on cognitive capabilities such as artificial intelligence (AI), mobile or cloud technologies, and social networks (for example, LinkedIn) to help them forge stronger psychological and emotional connections with candidates. They are using games and simulations to attract and assess potential candidates, particularly Millennials. Also, they conduct video-based job interviews to provide candidates a more compelling experience with their company. These technology-enabled recruiting strategies will strengthen your employment brand.
  3. Learning management. Technology is revolutionizing workplace learning, enabling organizations to engage with their employees in many creative ways. Examples of some top learning technologies include: mobile learning (learning through mobile devices such as phone, tablets and e-readers); video-based training (learning via YouTube, Google Hangout and Skype); and virtual learning (using a virtual avatar as a training coach, and platforms such as Second Life, Minecraft and Unity to bring the human touch into the e-learning environment).  The combination of these social media and learning platforms not only allows employees to participate in flexible, real-time, all-the-time learning; it also helps attract and train the young workforce who are naturally drawn to technology. Additionally, these technology-supported learning systems may help companies reduce their training expenditures by a substantial amount.
  4. Engagement and retention. The integration of social media feeds and platforms into self-service interfaces will become the norm in the digital workplace. With access to various, readily available opportunities, employees will be able to interact with members across an organization’s different levels and geographical locations, as well as learn new skills and knowledge at their own pace and comfort level. As a result, their satisfaction and engagement levels will likely be increased. In addition, to enhance the performance management process, technology—such as dashboard solutions—provides KPI information—such as turnover by salary, age and gender, absence management and trend analysis—in real time, which should result in a speedier and easier process.

Whether your company likes it or not, technology-driven talent practices are becoming the new norm in the digital workplace. The right technology solution will facilitate a full integration of your various HR functions. It will also support your business decision making and give your company agility to respond to the evolving demands of a constantly changing marketplace. So be wise and invest time and energy to understand the different and new technologies, and be intentional in selecting those that will best help you and your team accomplish your business goals.

You may learn more by reading Optimizing Human Capital Development: A Distributor’s Guide to Building Sustainable Competitive Advantage Through Talent Strategy. You’ll achieve business excellence by maximizing your human capital potential!

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Jia Wang, NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence Author

Jia Wang, NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence Author

Jia Wang is Professor of Human Resource Development at Texas A&M University. As a scholar, she has been actively promoting individual and organizational development through culture-sensitive and evidence-based research. Her research work has been disseminated through a wide range of academic journals and international conferences. Jia currently serves as the Editor-in-Chief of Human Resource Development Review. With 25 years of accumulated experiences in multi-cultural contexts, she has developed and conducted numerous educational workshops to diverse groups in both the corporate and university settings.

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