Nokia works on HR that's simpler with Oracle HCM

Stuart Lauchlan Profile picture for user slauchlan March 18, 2024
The multi-national has unified disparate systems to make life easier for workers, says Lisbeth Nielsen, Head of People Business Services at Nokia.


Nokia has streamlined more than 100 HR processes and consolidated 14 different HR applications into a single, integrated HR management system for the company’s 80,000+ workforce across 115 countries. 

The new HR platform, named NokiaME, replaces on-premises systems previously operated at business unit or country level. With the Oracle platform, Nokia also expects to be able to introduce more automation and self-service processes to reduce manual administration and enhance employee productivity.

According to Lisbeth Nielsen, Head of People Business Services at Nokia, the telco’s status as a B2B innovation company means that it has a strong focus on technology. But people are also crucial: 

When you take it from that point of view, of course, it is all about having the right people, having the right talents, developing their skills, and really getting them to the point where they deliver at their best. That's really one of the big things in Nokia today, because it is all about innovation, all about fostering innovation, harnessing innovation, really growing that.

Nokia's vision is about creating technology that helps the world act together, she adds, and that mantra applies inside the organization as well: 

When you are a technology company, like we are, everybody expects technology inside the company to be exactly like it is on the outside when it says best. That's really what our employees expect and that's what we're trying to to give them now.

The idea is to create technology to help employees act together, she explains, and out of that comes Nokia’s ‘your work, but simple’ tagline that accompanies the firm’s digitization agenda: 

That's what we're trying to do. From the beginning employee experience was at the core of what we really focus on. All the decisions we take are taken on the basis that the first question we ask ourselves is, 'Is this really the right user experience?’…The other part of the challenge we're solving is to really give people time back. It shouldn't be that HR tools are what they're struggling with when it should be seamless. It should be easy and give them time back to work on their job.


Agility is also vital, she says, as Nokia is a “dynamic company” that needs to respond to change quickly. That means taking a longer term view: 

When we started this [HR digitization] journey, we took a very active decision. We just didn't want to  solve the problem we had here now. We wanted to lift our horizons up and look five years ahead and see where we go.

We spent a lot of time in Oracle building journeys, putting small videos and having the right tests so it was more intuitive for people. That really paid off for us. People can use  it without coming to us and asking [for help]. It's much more intuitive and it really was smooth. When we designed it, we looked at all 100 processes. We really went in and referenced all of our HR processes. Yes, we did some lift-and-drop, but for many of them we've said, 'Can we take steps out? Can we make them smoother  so that actually there's just half the steps on the way or should we redesign them completely?’

The firm went live with phase one in December: 

We went in for Oracle HCM across 80,000 employees, 115 countries. We're getting really good feedback. I have to say we were a bit nervous. We've heard all of this, you know, 'You might triple your tickets' or whatever could happen. So we were really prepared for whatever would happen. But actually it went really smooth. It was a good experience for us at go live. 

After that 6th December 2023 go-live, the firm had its first quarterly update last month and Nielsen can confirm: 

It works. It's fantastic.


After going went live on scope, on budget and on time, Nielsen has some learnings to share, starting with the importance of consistency of leadership: 

The leadership team for the project has been the same all over. So through the whole process has been the same, me as the business sponsor essentially and my counterpart on the IT side. We worked very, very closely with IT’s leadership team and had a very close unit with them. As a team, we have been very, very focused on what we wanted to achieve. 

The other advice I would say was we consciously try to push decisions down into organization. So really kind of keep it clear who's responsible. When something escalates up, we have a clear escalation path so it ends with me or my IT counterpart and we can be very close to it. 

Nielsen also credits Oracle for its role in the success of the move to the new platform: 

We have a good relationship with Oracle. We felt that they listened to us, and we very much still have that relationship with Oracle today. We're where we do feel that they listen to us. I think it's obvious with big contracts like this, you have stress at the end and we had stress at the end. But the last three months they were really there for us. So we had a really good relationship. Whatever problems came, they tried and help and so forth.

As to what’s next for Nokia, generative AI inevitably is on the agenda. Nielsen explains: 

We just finalised and launched our Digital People Strategy. Gen AI is in there. We have big expectations. Oracle's roadmap is a key enabler for us on the gen AI topic. We're looking at use cases at the moment. It's typically about digital assistance. It's recruitment and skills spaces that I see us go in for first. 

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