“Invest more in your people, or face the risk of going extinct”: Oracle’s Yazad Dalal

Wednesday, 4 April 2018 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Head of HCM Cloud Applications (Asia Pacific) at Oracle Corporation, Yazad Dalal recently warned companies and business leaders that no matter how successful they are today, they may risk extinction if they fail to invest in their employees and won’t transform with changing times.

To prevent this, Dalal advised companies to invest in the people functions, and to focus more on modernising HR within an organisation. “In reality, the values of companies are largely lodged in your people, so the way we treat them and interact with them is going to be increasingly important,” he told the SLASSCOM People Summit 2018. 

Dalal who is responsible for strategy, operations and overall growth of Oracle’s Human Capital Management Cloud solutions across the Asia Pacific region, emphasised that people are a company’s primary intellectual property, and therefore it becomes incredibly important that organisations invest more in them if they wish to not go extinct, which is no more a far-fetched concept for companies, no matter how successful they are today. 

He recalled how at least 98 percent of companies listed in the New York Stock Exchange that was successful 100 years ago no longer exist. “That seems logical, as it was 100 years ago. But, what is surprising is that from the Fortune 500 global companies in the year 2000, only a certain percent exist now. So, extinction is definitely a reality and possibility for all of us,” Dalal told his audience, which comprised of business leaders and HR professionals representing the IT/BPM industry. 

Dalal pointed out that profits and strong business outcomes will be achieved based on the experience that organisations provide their employees. “We must provide our employees an enjoyable experience, and for this we must built human centred systems and processors that offer employees an enjoyable experience,” he said.  He also highlighted that when investing in employees, an organisation should not only invest in their white collar professionals, but instead they must invest on all its employees including the lady who plucks tea at as well as the person who handles the textile machine. “They are all people and they should be treated the same,” he said, while adding that investing in its employees also empowers them.

Dalal who possess nearly two decades experience working in the human capital space, said that emerging technologies are creating new opportunities, and technologies such as artificial intelligence, autonomous software, internet of things (IoT), and human interface have been identified as the way forward.

“Industries are changing at an unprecedented rate, with new entrants, and new business models, and this has resulted in customer expectations increasing and also changing dramatically. Everyone in this room works at an organisation that might not exist in five years. Because no industry is immune and it doesn’t matter if you’re providing a professional service in technology, tea or power. But, the good news is that as technology advances, it also creates new opportunities,” Dalal said. 

Amidst increasing concerns of the possibility of robots replacing the jobs of people, Dalal was quick to assure that while robots can be known for their efficiently it doesn’t mean that they can take over every capability that a human is known for. To further elaborate his point, Dalal showed a picture of a robot in an operating theatre conducting a surgery at a hospital in Singapore. “But, while the robot is doing the surgery, it is the doctor and the nurse who are guiding it to carry out the surgery,” he said, while adding that even though the robot was carrying out the surgery, it didn’t mean that neither the doctor nor the nurse lost their job. “The doctor and nurse have adopted with time and they have adapted to a new and different way of applying their knowledge and skill set,” Dalal pointed. 

He also said that while robots are good for productivity, what they are not good for, at least for the moment, is ‘how to think’ or even ‘dream’ which are important words for innovation. “Humans are good at thinking, dreaming and no robot can ever replace that,” he said. 

Dalal said that mankind’s intelligence can be best manifested when it can combine its own intelligence with machines.”They are not going to be our lords, and we are not going to smash them up like in some sci-fi movie, nor will our demand diminish because of robots, instead we will have a renewed sense for a renewed purpose and we will work together with these amazing innovations than against them,” he added. 

Speaking on the importance of transforming a company by using technology, Dalal said by computerising certain HR related application filling process, against the age old manual filling applications process at his company, Oracle, helped them in successfully saving 16 man years. 

Elaborating on his claim, Dalal said sometime back when a new employee was recruited to his, he or she had to go through the process of going to the HR department and filling various forms on their first day at work, which takes around two hours. Instead, his company computerised this process, by sending the letter of appointment, and when the selected candidate clicks ‘I accept,’ and then they are directed to a page where they can electronically fill in all the relevant forms online before they start work. “This is what efficiency should be like,” he said. 

Dalal noted that it was increasingly important to focus on using technology which can in turn make the employee’s life better and even help him or her to enjoy the work they do at office, while also promoting a better professional output from them.

“The same way we can friend and unfriend someone on Facebook, why can’t we promote someone at office with just two clicks. This technology exists, and we must use it,” he said. 

Dalal also said that employees should be able to apply for leave the same way they check in at a restaurant from their mobile phone. “These shouldn’t be felt as a transaction, instead they should be an interaction with the company. We must respect our employees and give them an enjoyable experience at the work place,” he reiterated.

Dalal disclosed that today there were several companies where its employees used the voice technology to send out emails and text messages. “Even though only a few are using this technology at the moment, in time everyone from every company will demand this technology. But, the longer we take to transform and change, the sooner our employees are going to leave,” he warned. 

“The way we transform, the way we think and connect and work, will eventually result in how successful our organisations will be,” Dalal added. 

The People Summit 2018 organised by SLASSCOM, which was held for the seventh time, this year revolved around the theme ‘Transforming the way we think, work and connect.’ The summit brought together over 300 business leaders and HR professionals representing the IT/BPM and other industries in Sri Lanka.