CHROs embrace AI while protecting humans at Workday Elevate


“AI will augment and amplify humans rather than replace them. AI needs a lot of trustworthy and accurate data to be effective,” says Jonathan Randle, vice president, EMEA at Workday.

Workday Elevate Johannesburg was a befitting reminder for individuals who work with human capital and are tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that an organisation has the right human resources. CHROs came in their numbers to this prestigious event to learn, reflect, and embrace the power of artificial intelligence (AI). In today’s dynamic business landscape, CHROs face numerous challenges in managing their organisations’ human capital.

To drive business success, CHROs require a robust HR management system that can provide real-time insights, enhance employee engagement and streamline HR processes. This is where Workday and the technologies they offer come into play.

“Technology is a differentiator. It is shaping the way we work. This ongoing shift and transformation is not new to us” Kiveshen (Kiv) Moodley, country managing director at Workday, told those gathered.

Being the torchbearers of everything technology, Kiv further emphasised the role Workday plays in ensuring that companies are well prepared for AI adaptation. He explained: “AI is not new to us. Through AI, we want to drive transformation, viewer experiences, simplify interfaces, boost employer engagement and increase productivity levels. Our ambition lies in our commitment to putting people first.”

But what would the human resources department be like if it was not people-centred? Kiv meticulously detailed the importance of empowering employees.

“Organisations become hugely successful when their people are empowered, engaged, and, most importantly, valued – whether that means improving financial processes or employer experiences, or putting that together and building a culture where everyone feels valued,” said Moodley.

With Workday, CHROs can analyse HR data to identify trends, skills gaps, and talent development opportunities. This enables them to develop strategic plans, optimise workforce resources, and drive business success. JSE-listed companies such as Old Mutual are taking advantage of Workday cloud-based software that specialises in applications for human capital management (HCM).

Real-time benefits from a professional services perspective

During the fireside chat between Kiv and Vanessa Goonahsylin, HR director at Accenture South Africa, Vanessa reflected on a journey between Accenture and Workday that began five years ago. “We were looking for a platform that was engaging, productive and empowered leaders, while transforming how we work at Accenture,” said Vanessa. “We found that partner in Workday and walked that journey together – played a part in the configuration of the tool before going live!”

From a day-to-day benefit of the platform, Vannessa revealed that the Workday platform works as a point of contact and one place destination for the Accenture workforce. “It helps people update their skills, understand their application process until they get onboard, and their overall employee lifecycle,” she added.

Vanessa added that the platform also allows people to update their priorities, which is tied to Accenture’s KPIs, very important for the firm.

There are also benefits for business leaders: the Workday tool provides data that is accessible and easy to navigate without the help of HR. In addition, it helps leaders connect with other leaders in the organisation in order to make important talent decisions.

What about the benefits for HR professionals? “It saves time and eliminates the administration process and channels energy into other key areas, but most importantly makes things simpler, better and faster,” Vanessa continued.

Insights from an insurer

Celiwe Ross, the director for group strategy, sustainability, people and public affairs at Old Mutual, explained, “Our human capital priorities at Old Mutual can be grouped into three – focussing on talent outcomes, performance and continued improvements in our employee experience. Workday is a key enabler to achieving these.”

Workday is helping CHROs to be empowered and to empower their employees to see AI as a tool to enhance their work environment and improve their productivity, creating a harmony that makes future-ready employees.

“For any organisation embarking on a technology transformation, it’s important to start with what needs to shift in your people (both the business partners and line managers) and current processes. Then the technology implementation can follow. It is critical to remove the complexities from past processes and aim to always stick to the standard process as built by Workday in order to realise benefits,” Celiwe noted.

“Keep it simple, be aware of temptations when it comes to new products and enhancements, especially early on in your implementation journey,” was Celiwe’s advice to HR leaders.

“Our new mantra at Old Mutual is ‘why not Workday’ which simply means that you need to leverage the technological investment you’ve made,” she concluded.

Additional reporting by Kabelo Chabalala, Managing Editor of CFO South Africa and Reabetswe Rabaji, Managing Editor of CIO South Africa. 

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