Originally published in BOSS Magazine.

The way a business operates, and how it is expected to connect with clients and employees, is changing faster than ever. The desire for near-instantaneous response times, robust and agile project delivery methods, and transformation and change initiatives that see immediate results has resulted in more tech-based solutions across all business functions.

HR, Marketing, and IT–BFF?

But finding talent with the skills necessary to design, implement, and then manage these new technologies, whilst at the same time lead a traditionally structured team within the business is no easy feat.

HR is not immune. In fact, HR is now being asked to deliver business-driven tech solutions despite having little experience or training in the area. Technology and social media have literally blurred the lines of what were–in the not-too-distant past–quite distinctive roles.

It’s Not You, It’s Everyone

Over the last 18 months, we have seen an increase in the level of industry discussions around the digitization of HR and in the demand for HR talent with experience leading these tech/digital transformations. And I suspect this is mirrored in almost all support functions–marketing, ICT, and finance.

Technology (in its various forms) is already impacting the way HR delivers services to the business and, more fundamentally, the role HR plays in the business. It’s evident from ChapmanCG’s Global HR Interview podcast series that CHROs are increasingly taking steps to up-skill their people, deliver successful projects, and add real (quantifiable) value to the business.

But education takes time, and time is a rare commodity when it comes to implementing technological change. HR would be well advised to perhaps look a little closer to home for some quick, easy, wins.

IT and Marketing: New Best Friends…FOREVER

In the brave new world of HR digitization, the lines between HR, marketing, IT, and even finance are becoming increasingly entwined. The employer brand is now directly linked to the public perception of a business (also known as marketing).

And although the future implications of social media confuse almost everyone equally (if they’re honest), social media has certainly brought the three functions closer.

The ability to work cross-function effectively has become non-negotiable. CHROs need the specialist skills marketing and IT bring to the table. Certainly, from a career perspective, the ability to show how you have proactively brought in other skill-sets onto HR projects will do HR leaders a great deal of good.

While we are not at the overarching CHR-ICT-M-O leadership role yet (some COOs would disagree), I do see a future where there is an increasing overlap between the three functions. HR will have a crucial role in humanizing an increasingly tech-dominated work environment, but we need to prepare the profession for some major changes first.

The Role of Business and Academic Education

Are academic institutions doing enough to equip HR graduates for this wave of professional digitization and professional cross-over that organizations expect of the next generation? I suspect the answer is ‘no’ and this is deeply concerning.

With each function trying to ‘catch-up’ independently, there is much we should be learning from each other. Perhaps future HR education will need to include secondments into marketing and IT, which will be a reflection of how the functions should interact on a daily basis. As CHROs move into a more project-orientated, gig economy, the skills to effectively practice HR will reside in more of a project management capacity.