If the Country reels on the skills map

Italy is in line with Europe for digital maturity, but often lacks a unique master data for functions. Mercer's HR Digital Survey insights

Take 120 HR Directors from companies with over 500 employees and a ROI over 500million euros. Ask them what stage the organization in which they operate stands on topics such as digital strategy, digital impact, digital hr technology. Collect the results, map them, and you’ll have the litmus test of the affirmation of digital wave in our Country. With a fundamental dilemma: where are the Italian organizations on the 360-degree digital scale? Are we still deciding if and how to start the transformation, or do we already see some practical results? "Still transforming, or already performing?", the Anglo-Saxons would say. And this is the title proposed for the latest HR Digital Survey by Mercer, which photographs an alignment of our Country with respect to the European line on digital maturity, but also a context of organizations in distress on the role mapping front.

But let's proceed in order. Too many sources insist on the digital divide that would divide us from the rest of the continent – and the whole world. And they are wrong: against an EU index of 3,47 (that of digital maturity), our Country reaches 3,44. For the first time, we're not tailings. It's a good start, especially if we think we started behind the global trend (and this, unfortunately, followed not to amaze). Our HRs are catching up, therefore, and this is also great news. From which comes the observation that Italy, rather than deciding whether to follow the long wave of digital, at least has already taken this path. Rather than running, it is a run-up, the need to recover, of course. To accelerate by leveraging innovation now dominating the markets. Where will our innovation come from? The good HR would answer: from the ability to know people. To map the skills present in the company (and take note of those absent). To identify new skills, or revitalize those already active.

Now, these principles, once applied to digital, bring with them a whole host of additional considerations. For a digital strategy that is being developed, the problem of internal communication arises immediately. Telling your organization about new tools, features, and potential. This cannot be overtaken in any way, because miscommunication can shatter even the best of strategies, with the most robust of contents. Communication calls into question involvement. Also because a transformation is true only if shared by everyone, Top Management (as an exemplary case) in the very first line. Still, to be effective, digital strategy must be linked to the company's overall strategy. There must be mutual contamination. And here begins the sore notes detected by Mercer: only 6% of the Italian sample can testify that, inside its organization, the two strategies "talk one to each other".

Perhaps, it depends on the fact that in Italy, unlike what happened in Europe, digitization starts from Operations (i.e., from business), and then propagates to other functions (HR, etc.). In the European Union, transformation moves in a more systemic way, while at the same time involving the entire value chain, greatly shortening the distance from the customer. It goes without saying that, as far as our Country in general is concerned, and HR in particular, digitizing becomes an even more pressing need. Because not doing so, means putting further distance from the business. In fact, in the Top10 companies with the highest digital maturity index, Mercer sees a 20% reduction for HR, in the effort to manage routine activities. Time and value that could be capitalized on people caring's strategic assets. But people caring is a way that imposes the need we talked about above: to know people, to know them, also, in an analytical way.

Which means: using HR technologies to build unique, representative and integrated master data between functions, that enable HR to take care of resources, profiled and segmented according to their specific needs. Learning achievity, the specialists call it. For us, it is the new skills challenge, the one that will put us in a position to hone Italian talent.