Posted: 05 Nov. 2019 3 min. read

Does Global Mobility transformation always have to be Digital?

Having come back to work after a year out of the business, everyone is still talking about ‘digital’. Nothing new there, after all digital is an ongoing conversation and articles on digital have been in the media for many years now.

So, why are we still talking about digital and are we really doing anything about it in global mobility?

Let’s focus on the first part of that question first – why are we still talking about digital?

The requirement to be digital is becoming more and more critical. External forces are changing the way we work, where we work and who we work with - and technology is accelerating the pace of these changes. If organisations are to survive and prosper in this complex and continuously evolving environment, they must set themselves up to be able to keep up with the pace of change.

For me, this sentence defines what digital is:

Digital is the ability to respond to the rapidly changing external environment and adapt to meet the evolving needs of employees and customers.

Every organisation’s strategy needs to be digital at its core to drive the continual business transformation required to be successful in the digital age.

Just like the rest of the organisation, the team that manages Global Mobility is no different in its need to be agile and put its stakeholders at the heart of its day-to-day operations. Global Mobility functions have often struggled to demonstrate the value they add to the organisation and now more than ever need to position themselves as an essential strategic partner to the business.

To enable this objective, there is an increasing need for Global Mobility teams to re-evaluate their priorities and longer term goals with a truly digital focus: Global Mobility transformation should always be digital in today’s world.

Going back to the question of what organisations are doing about digital, they will generally be at a specific point along the digital maturity spectrum, often ‘exploring’ and ‘doing’ rather than ‘becoming’ or ‘being’ digital.

The majority of Global Mobility teams we speak to with a digital agenda are focused on specific operational aspects of being digital. These usually involve implementing some kind of technology, for example, to automate a manual process or create a virtual assistant to respond to employee queries. These technologies, when implemented effectively, increase operational efficiency and are a great step towards being more digital. This is just one piece of the bigger digi-puzzle however.

Are global mobility teams thinking strategically about being digital, i.e. actually planning and implementing a digital strategy? This involves thinking longer term about how to develop a global mobility programme which is agile and thus able to adapt to the external environment as well as the changing needs of the business. Of course different organisations will have different long-term priorities, but ultimately every organisation must work towards the goal of ‘being digital’ to enable them to keep up with the rapid pace of change.

Let’s be realistic too – typically many Global Mobility teams may not be quite ready for a full-on, technology-enabled digital transformation. A digital strategy is not finite however - it is continuous and iterates and evolves over time as needs change. In the short term, the focus may be on building and developing a Global Mobility programme at a more foundational level, or focusing on really developing one or two key areas of the programme, however this should always be done with the longer term digital vision in mind.

To stay ahead in this ever-digital world, global mobility teams should reassess their longer term vision, and work backwards from their desired outcomes to understand the smaller steps on the journey they need to take.

Nobody ever said digital nirvana would be easy…

Are you thinking about digital transformation in a global mobility context? Let us know how!

Sign up for the latest updates

Key contact

Demetra Karacosta

Demetra Karacosta

Associate Director

Demetra is based in our London GES practice and has 13 years of Global Mobility experience. She leads large scale and complex Global Mobility projects for multinational organisations who are reviewing their Global Mobility strategy, operations or focusing on a particular area of their programme. Demetra works with various senior stakeholders within HR and her projects span different industries, all with the ultimate objective of creating the best way to move people within the organisation based on the business’ priorities and talent agenda. Demetra has recently also been focusing on how organisations’ DEI strategies and objectives can be embedded within their Global Mobility programmes to maximise the return on investment of global moves and promote a more inclusive approach to working internationally.