Spock searches for people

For all you recruiting types out there, there is a new service that you need to be aware of, Spock. Currently in beta, it’s kind of private but if you ask I will send you an invite as of writing I have 100.

Basically Spock is a search tool about people and the validity of the search results are based on the feedback from other searchers who vote Yes or No to attributes of the person. If you want a fantastic run down of the tool check out Jeffro’s review, I’ll wait for you to come back.

Back? Ok let’s continue.

It is becoming a common that people acknowledge that the footprints they leave online are there forever and can be seen by all, a few Miss Universe/America constants will agree. Spock uses these footprints out there to build profiles of us all, the data is then augmented by feedback and votes from other people, almost like Digg but about people.

One of the problems/challenges with Spock is that there are currently so many identities for people out there. Spock seems to be heavily tied to LinkedIn and Wikipedia as it’s main sources of data. As such ti is very easy for multiple profiles to exist for the same person. Once you sign up you also create a profile. Before I knew I existed I created myself a profile and tried to merge it with the data that had been found on me by the Spock crawlers, not the easiest process. I tried several times to join my profile with the records that Spock has of me, you complete this by entering your LinkedIn user id and password then wait for the Spock system to combine the data each time the process seemed to fail.

UPDATE: Looks like Spock final combined my records, I guess I had to wait a while.
I’m sure you can see how this can and will relate to recruiting. Not only in sourcing new candidates, but also in time reference checking and background checking. Right now the system is loaded with lots of information about celebrities but there is still data about regular folks. Right now not the best source of data for background checking etc given the system is in Beta. I am sure this will improve as more people begin to vote and add different attributes.

So let’s give this a bit of a go, I will pick on Jason Davis and Jason Goldberg.

Jason Davis

JD was a bit hard to find in Spock it is a popular name and JD was not on the first page. Once I found him Spock had him listed as the founder of Recruiting.com, and involved in Staffing and Recruiting. Right on both accounts. I updated the information a bit added RecruitingBlogs.com, that he is ex-Jobster and also ex-Recruiting.com. Over

Jason Goldberg

Jobster Jason was a lot easier to find. Jason was listed as Chief Jobster, in the Internet Industry both right, he was also listed s a Taurus and single, not sure about that one. Sites that were relevant to him listed his LinkedIn profile and a MySpace page, the LinkedIn profile was right and not so sure about the MySpace. I added a couple of links to his profile from Jobster.

Overall not too bad as another source of information about people, but this is a very crowded market, for example Pipl, and it may not survive.

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Hyperconnectivity and the Semantic web

This is another half thought out post where I am “throwing mud against the wall to see what sticks”.

(Disclosure I work for Nortel, and they in no way support, or sponsor/endorse this blog, all the comments are personal.)

One of the big trends Nortel, and others, see in the coming years is hyperconnectivity, where more and more devices are connected to the internet. There has been lots of talk both internally to Nortel and externally over the last 6 months on topic, with a recent CIO article and press releases and an feature article. There is now even a Wikipedia article which defines hyperconnectivity as:-

Hyperconnectivity is an accelerating market trend in which all things that can or should communicate through the network will communicate through the network. This encompasses person-to-person, person-to-machine and machine-to-machine communication. It is fueling huge increases in bandwidth demand and changes in communications because of the complexity, diversity and integration of new applications and devices using the network.

One of the keys to this hyperconnectivity, besides lots of bandwidth and devices, will be communication enabled applications. These applications maybe traditional people to people/people to machines or machine to machine agent based applications. For example there are now 3.25 billion mobile phones in the world, and with phones adding technology such as WiFi and using high speed data access the phone will move form being just a voice communication device to a unified communication device. Phones now have RSS readers, push email, Skype, mobile interfaces for tools like gCal, Twitter. Another example is the growth in consumer electronics that are now being connected to the network, for example WiFi photo frames. Finally we have mashable services being produced such as Yahoo Pipes, Microsoft Popfly, and FaceBook APIs/Applications. These applications/tools/services will be used on and by lots and lots of different devices.

For me this hyper-communication is a foundation layer that is needed to move us towards the semantic web, if you disagree that it is not a foundation layer then at least it is a result of the semantic web, almost a chicken and the egg thing.

The semantic web is an evolving extension of the World Wide Web in which web content can be expressed not only in natural language, but also in a form that can be read and used by software agents, thus permitting them to find, share and integrate information more easily.

For us to have communication enabled applications, and the semantic web, I also see that we need more support for Microformats and other tools that are designed for humans first and machines second, and above all are simple! These tools will allow for more inter application and device communication. (Microformats is a little project that has been going now for 2 years and is finally gaining momentum with some great example of microformat implementations.)

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Lost my readers?

I have noticed a very interesting occurrence since my blog died, well actually the hosting provider disappeared, my readers seem to have disappeared as well. Not sure if it is a timing thing, an issue with the feed, if my Googlejuice has dried up, the stars are out of alignment or if was something I said.

Hopefully it is a timing thing and/or alignment issue with the stars and people will come back.

Technology is still failing to meet the needs of HR

Sorry this is a major rant, I don’t have time to fully explore the whole issues but I had to blog about it anyway.

Watson Wyatt Worldwide released a press statement overnight that concerns me greatly and leaves me to believe that either their research is wrong or technology has fundamentally let down HR over the last 5 years. Now I respect Watson Wyatt so I guess that means that technology is at fault, or at least the way we have implemented it. The press release reads like one from 2002, not 2007. Even the executive summary from the research report is a concern.

Watson Wyatt’s 2007 HR Technology Trends Survey finds that companies are turning to technology to give employees access to pertinent information and tools. From portals to software solutions to call centers, HR technologies are providing a bridge to the information that employees need to understand their changing workplace.

I’m sorry but best practice companies were using software solutions, call centres and portals (although they weren’t call that then) 7-10 years ago! What has happened to all of the investment in HR technology over the last 5, 7, 10 years? Has it all been a complete failure and everyone is just ignoring this fact?

All is not bad as 46% of companies are now doing benefit enrollments over the web, but that is a very low number. However only 27% have notifications of all life events online! Another concern is around the basic payroll decisions, and compensation transactions are processed.

… transactions related to compensation and payroll decisions, promotion and transfers and retirement still tend to occur the old-fashioned way. Fewer than one in five companies report that all transactions in those programs take place via the Web.

The last, and probably biggest concern, was around talent management the buzz area of HRIS over the last 2 – 3 years.

Twenty-one percent of companies are somewhat or very dissatisfied with the quality of talent management service provided, versus 10 percent in the health and welfare area and 6 percent in defined benefit administration. Many companies are looking to add technology solutions to their talent management programs, especially for succession planning, where more than 30 percent plan to adopt technology solutions in the next two years.

Now the research was with only 182 companies so it is limited in scope, but I would except Watson Wyatt would have been reasonably careful in who they chose to participate to get a board representation of organisations.  So I guess technology is the failure.

HR is a heavy administrative function in which it is widely known and acknowledged that technology is critical for providing the productivity improvements needed to allow the function to become more strategic. This is not a new concept, I was preparing business cases over 10 years ago on this very basis.

I can only assume that these failures in technology to address the business needs that they are contributing to the fact that we are still seeing that business leaders don’t see value in HR! Thomas Otter kicked off a discussion a couple of weeks ago on this based on research from Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu and The Economist Intelligence Unit. Thomas tagged me to get into the conversation, I didn’t as my blog died but I think I need to.

The problem with readers/customers/users

Please don’t take this the wrong way but it was nice to blog without readers, but in a way it is even better to blog with them. Let me tell you why.

Without readers it is just you and the keyboard. Nothing more, nothing else. You can’t insult, upset, disappoint anyone. You get to write whatever you want.

With readers you can insult, upset, disappoint them, but you can also excite them, inspire them, connect with them and even build a relationship with them. This is true with customers, users and employees.

To a degree on my blog the readers are my customers, a scary thought, but if they were to disappear I would still have the blog. I just might not have the hosting fees paid for from the little bits of advertising I do.

But, when you are dealing with end users, customers and employees if you lose them then you have nothing. No product, no business or no company.

Seth Godin wrote a great post a couple of days ago about humanizing the interactions between your front line employees and your customers. You should also do it between your employees and your management layers (all layers). Having a open, honest relationship between employees and managers is a major benefit to an organisation. You might also find that your employees actually engage more in the work place. People are not machines!

Doing one more thing

Anna Farmery from over at The Engaging Brand pushes us all to do just one more thing, well 10 of them in fact. She asked what would happen to the productivity your team if you did one more thing from the list every day?

The list is mainly about recognition, something that is in line with the things I have been thinking about recent with regard to employee engagement, recognition and satisfaction. I have not spoken about engagement and satisfaction for a while so it is time to dig it up again.

When employees are satisfied they engage when they engage companies tend to increase their performance(there is research out there but this is opinion 😉 ). This could be because they go the extra mile for the organisation and the manager. One of the biggest influences of employee satisfaction is the first level manager, yes there are lots of things that impact satisfaction but this to me is the biggest. One of the biggest satisfiers from management is recognition. By recognition I mean all sorts, financial, or emotional.

Now where this gets interesting is recognition means different things to different people at different times in their lives. Basically it comes down to what is important to the employee, not what the manager or HR thinks is important, and that’s the difficult part. For example those readers born after 1980 probably view a good salary and opportunities for advancement and the most important thing. You Baby Boomers are at the moment looking for work-life balance and good benefits, Gen-Xers sitting in the middle want interesting work (and the Boomers to leave the workforce, but that is another post), with work life balance. The trouble is when you recognise people’s performance you need to take this into account.

For a Gen-Y, a bonus or career development move might be the key, for the Baby Boomer give them a day off, Gen-X throw them a difficult project with a pat on the back. All of them would also appreciate a simple “Thank-You”. Ok I am simplifying things but you get the point.

Here are a list of resources you might find useful when coming up with ways to recognise employees:-

Happy 3rd Blogoversary and reflections.

Today it is 3 years since I started my blog over on Blogger, before moving it to my own domain name using WordPress. Over those 3 years I have written 1,012 post and had 1,054 real comments, not to mention several hundred thousand spam comments! Although the Blogger blog was not my first entrance into publishing in the online world, I did have a GeoCities page in around 2001 with some predictions of where HRIS technology was going, so I guess I could say I have been “blogging” for 6 years now but that would not really be true.

I would have been online a lot earlier in 2004 if I had used Blogger first and not tried to get Moveabletype up and running on an old Linux PC I had in the office.

It has been an interesting journey, I have met lots of new people, learned a huge amount and had a lot of fun. Over the last year or so I have moved away from keeping close track of the HR blogosphere as my job has changed into one of a more technical nature but I still an eye on what is going on.

So where to in the next 12 months? Not 100% sure to be honest.

I have been thinking to morph the blog into being more about management than just HR and technology. In particular first line management (or middle management as Wayne Turmel would call it) in an online world as failings by many over the last year in this area have really started to get me upset. Probably the biggest de-motivator of staff on this planet is a poor manager! Not to mention the impact it has on an organisation’s bottom/top line. If I do change focus slightly I hope you, the reader will stay with me.

Blog is back!!

Just a quick note to apologize to everyone who reads this blog or subscribes to the feed. We have been offline for the last 4 days due to a hosting issue, basically the old host skipped town.

I have moved host, restored my backups (over 400mb of compressed data) and finally got things back up.

Unfortunately I have temporarily lost some of the data for this blog, it will be coming back over the next few days.

Oh and you might see a few duplicate posts coming through your feed reader as things settle down.

Productivity ideas

During my weekly review today I looked through some feedback from the HBDI Survey I took for the training course in Hong Kong, if you know HBDI I am D > A > C > B. One of the pieces of feedback was to look at ways to develop other quadrants, to help with this HBDI provides some ideas on things you can do. So I took one idea, keeping a time log for a week and decided to implement it.

For the next week I am going to try and keep a log of what I am doing every 15 minutes precisely. The benefits should be twofold.

First, to develop my B quadrant, my lowest, really focusing on planning i.e. how to do something, organising facts, and reviewing details.

Second I felt it might be a good idea to help with productivity, understanding where I spend my time should help with determining blocks in productivity and when I get through lots of items.