Michael Specht

A blog from Australia looking at technology, management, Human Resources (HR) and recruitment.

The Five Horsemen and you

August 9th, 2016 · No Comments · Future, HR Management, Management, Technology ·



A rambling post of thoughts for you.

For a few years there has been talk of the “five horsemen” of tech – Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. The opinion of having Microsoft included has varied over time the final number doesn’t matter, these five organisations are massive – in terms of impact, revenue, employees and valuation.

In fact they are the largest in the US stock market! What a change. In 1996 (20 years ago) the five largest companies were – General Motors, Ford Motor, Exxon Mobile, Wal-Mart Stores and AT&T. Even ten years ago the list had not changed a lot – Exxon Mobile, Wal-Mart Stores, General Motors, Chevron Corporation and Ford Motor. Today the top spots are filled with technology based companies.

(It is not just US companies – Alibaab is a valuation of $210b with approximately $16b in cash.)

Today I was listening to TWIT’s episode “Headless Body in Topless Bar” where the discussion continued and what struck me was the impact these five companies are (and will in the next decade) have on our lives and the workplace.

The impact is and will be profound  – they are all shaping today’s workforce and tomorrow’s. Be it through smartphones, collaboration, social media, retail, search, machine learning, logistics and artificial intelligence. Yes Microsoft might be replaced by a Telsa/SolarCity (or another) but the fact still remains technology and the companies that create it are defining the modern era.

Some initial thoughts – What is the impact of these technologies on your workplace? Are you embracing them?

It must of been the recent earnings announcements from many of the five, as Jason Calacanis today published an interesting piece on what the five could be also doing on the M&A front. As he states it is pure speculation based on a tweet, but the results are interesting.

Jason talks about how poker players act differently depending on the size of their stack. When you have a lot of money the game you play is very different to when you don’t. Just look at the “stack size” of the “five horseman” and then their M&A activity compared to some “traditional” companies:

Tech companies that are wildly deep-stacked right now:

1. Apple $200b+ in cash/equivalents, $593B valuation
2. Google $75b+ in cash/equivalents, $551B valuation
3. Amazon $16b+ in cash/equivalents, $366B valuation
4. Facebook $23b+ in cash/equivalents, $362B valuation
5. Microsoft $105b+ in cash/equivalents, $457B valuation
6. Cisco $60b+ in cash/equivalents, $157B valuation

Those six companies have $470b+ in cash/equivalents and $2.5t in market cap.

Zuckerberg has been the master of acquisitions in the past couple of years, having the audacity to pay $22b for WhatsApp and $2b for a *pre-customer* Oculus. Think about that for a moment. Zuck paid $2b for a company without a market, and that may take a decade to have 100m users — if that ever happens!

And look what just happened. Unilever, GM and Walmart just sat down at the big game and shot the locks off their wallets:

1. Unilever bought Dollar Shave Club for $1b
2. GM bought Cruise for a rumored $1b+
3. Walmart is buying Jet.com for $3b
4. Verizon is buying Yahoo for $4.83b

Jason goes on to review a few companies who are the most desirable to deep staked players aka “five horseman” and some companies “wanting” to sell.

Interesting in both lists are two enterprise software vendors – Slack (desirable), and Zenefits (“wanting” to be sold).

Finally have a think about your workforce. Is your talent pool deep-stacked? Can you use that talent to out maneuver your competition? Can you make bets like Facebook’s $22b for WhatsApp or are your stuck with buying Jet.com for $3b?

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What’s Next?

February 28th, 2016 · Comments Off · Blogging, Management ·



I’ve been thinking about writing on my blog for a while now, and this post doesn’t mean I will write regularly (but you never know).

So what is next? This is something I have been searching for over the last few years.

Today I read a good summary, by Chris Dixon, on some key computing trends that will shape our future. Chris sees that these trends are being impacted by two mega-trends in both hardware and software:

  • Hardware: small, cheap, and ubiquitous
  • Software: the golden age of AI

The mega-trends allow for profound new computing platforms to emerge, Chris says they are currently gestating. Chris’s six areas are:

  1. Autonomous Cars
  2. Drones
  3. Internet of Things
  4. Wearables
  5. Virtual Reality
  6. Augmented Reality

Now these should not come as a surprise to you, you would have to have been living under a rock to miss all of them.

But have you considered their impact on the future of work (yes I used that term)? What about on your HR Technology strategies? Are you vendors thinking about these changes? How are you going to educate the workforce? How are managers going to adapt?

Let’s have a quick look at each.

  1. Autonomous Cars – Obviously transport and delivery will be impacted big time. But what about employees and their commute with an autonomous car?
  2. Drones – Chris’s article mentions jobs that involve climbing buildings, towers, and other dangerous structures will be performed more safely and effectively using drones.
  3. Internet of Things – Equipment, plant and facilities monitoring all “run of the mill” examples. Will the use of IoT in the workplace give us our first truly useful digital assistants?
  4. Wearables – An obvious impact here is on wellness in the workplace. What about uses around monitoring for work for safety and productivity, ignoring the privacy debates?
  5. Virtual Reality – Training programs will be profoundly impacted by VR. Already we are seeing organisations use the technology, for safety training. What about eHealth design, construction etc?
  6. Augmented Reality – Again training will be profoundly impacted. So will meetings, presentations and conferences etc. Don’t forget all of those “manual” labour jobs that have standard operating procedures will be enhanced with AR.

This is a very short overview, in fact you could write 1,000’s of words on each an the future of work.

Chris briefly touched on deep learning which I see creating a seismic shift in how we manage recruitment, performance management and career development.

All of these technologies have the ability to profoundly change jobs in the workplace, are you ready?

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4th Australian HR Technology Survey

February 13th, 2014 · 1 Comment · HRIS ·



 

Earlier this week Navigo Research opened up our 4th Australian HR Technology Survey.

The survey examines the local HR Technology landscape and specifically focuses on vendors/solutions used, satisfaction, expenditure and future trends. The resulting free report is designed to provide organisations with the information to plan, justify and execute HR technology projects.

If you work in HR Technology in Australia (and New Zealand for that matter) please take the time to complete the survey.

This year we have expanded the survey. We are trying to get an understanding on purchasing trends, views on SaaS/cloud, budgets and overall satisfaction with the various solutions being used.

So please go take the survey:

http://NavigoResearch.com.au/HRTechSurvey

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HR Technology Conference

October 3rd, 2013 · Comments Off · HRIS ·



Next week I am heading off to Las Vegas to attend the 16th Annual HR Technology Conference. This will be my second visit to the conference, the last was in 2001/2002. That time the event was held in Chicago and was an amazing experience back then. I can only imagine the improvements over the last 10 years.

HRT Badge 2013

What am I expecting?

Three days packed full of conference sessions, walking the exhibition floor visiting many different vendors, meeting new people and catching up with old colleagues.

In particular I am looking forward to hearing from many of the industries thought leaders. Specifically how the latest trends – such as SaaS, social, mobile, analytics, gamification, Big Data and MOOCs – are influencing not just HR technology but also approaches to HR service delivery.

A key take away I am looking forward to is to understand the level of HR Technology adoption in Australia vs the rest of the world. I suspect we are still behind but you never know.

Another outcome I am expecting is to understand the business outcomes from the various case studies, and how they might apply in the Australian workplace. Translating US case studies into the Australian workplace is not always easy. This has been one of the challenges international vendors have faced when demonstrating specific use cases of their solutions to Australian buyers.

While I am looking forward to the whole event, there are a few sessions that I am specifically looking forward to.

  • Opening keynote from Don Tapscott, author of Wikinomics, Grown Up Digital and more recently Radical Openness.
  • The session on Awesome New Technologies for HR to see the new tools and approaches.
  • Lexy Martin’s 16th Annual CedarCrestone HR Systems Survey launch. Particularly interested in how the result compare to our HR Technology Report.
  • Getting to a few of the HR Tech Talks – talks about work, technology, management – modeled on the famous TED Talks format.
  • IBM Watson will be demo’ed as an HR Advisor, that will be different.
  • Closing Keynote from Jason Averbook.

I know of a few other Australian’s heading over and at least two vendors, if you are attending let me know.

If you cannot attend follow along on Twitter with the hashtag #HRTechConf.

I will also try to write a blog post or two but suspect I will be very busy!

 

Originally posted at Navigo Research

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Navigo Research 3rd Australian HR Technology Report

July 30th, 2013 · 1 Comment · HRIS ·



One of the first things I did after joining Navigo Research was to pick up the finalisation of the HR Technology Report. As of this week the report has been finally made available and can be downloaded over on the Navigo Research web site. (Yes it was late – long story for another time.)

The report is in it’s third year and makes interesting reading for anyone involved in the HR Technology industry in Australia.

A few of my takeaways from the report are:

  • Australian businesses are behind on the adoption of cloud based offerings – 76% of Australian organisations have deployed their HRIS solution using a licensed software model, Software as a Service (SaaS) less than 1%
  • We still do not understand the power of social media and the enterprise – 75% of HR departments have no plans to use Enterprise Social platforms.
  • We have old technology and there are not many plans to replace them – 60% of organisations have been running the same payroll system for more than 5 years and only 35% of organisations are spending more.
  • Social recruiting is starting to take hold – 22% of organisations are currently it.

Anyway that’s enough from me if you want the rest of the information you will need to download it.

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