Are our leaders divided over Digital Hype ?

Last week I was a part of, and a speaker at the Talent Leadership convention. Over 2 days, CHROs from leading organizations shared thoughts, and ideas, about future of “Talent” (acquisition, management, development and engagement) in the new Digital Era.

When I reflect on my notes, two schools of thought clearly emerged. There are evangelists of the digital transformation, and there are an equal number of nay sayers.

Those with the digital transformation agenda, were clearly arguing, with data, employee-centric designs, and focus on technology.

The other group, banked on their legendary history, of doing this for several decades. It was backed by rich testimonials.

Stefaan from Flipkart, made a compelling case on how the times have changed and so we need to re-imagine learning. Even traditional organizations like Raymond’s Geeta had recognized the need to create customized solutions for their talent management, and engagement programs.

It was surprising to see some established organizations in the Industry and the ones that we all look up to for Industry trends and future like Deloitte had bare bones design about managing and developing their talent.

A lot of the leaders, who were not comfortable with the arguments of Stefaan and Geeta, came across as, threatened with the changing trends, and found it hard to acknowledge the obvious. It came across as though it was their established reputation at stake. They would rather fared better if they presented their argument with equal data.

It seemed like they hit a plateau in their thoughts and kept going into loops. It came across as though, they stopped learning long ago. Considering they were in the business of talent management and learning, it was disappointing.

I cannot help but feel anxious about the careers and fate of thousands of employees in these organizations, or places where they sell their products and services. I agree that not all tech may not be useful, but dismissing it without even considering the possibilities, just because as leaders they are not comfortable, is illogical.

Leaders have a responsibility to learn, probably, more than the others in the organization. They define and shape careers of people working for them.

My opinion may be one sided. I believe in adapting technologies to make our jobs simpler, effective and relevant. Technology helps us design experiences, programs and processes that are scalable, personalized to the individual and a lot more engaging.

With changing business dynamics, talent will be the center of an organizations ability to set themselves apart from the rest.

What do you think? Do you feel this divide in your conversations with leaders? Do you feel this whole digital thing is just propaganda? After all conventional models are tested, proven and hence not to be messed with right?