NotchUp up’s their features

I received an email yesterday from the folks at NotchUp that they had released some new features.

We’re happy to announce the launch of our newest feature, the NotchUp resume/profile importer. With it, you can have a NotchUp profile created for you in just seconds – just upload your resume or LinkedIn profile, and we’ll instantaneously turn it into a NotchUp profile for you.

We accept most file formats, so if you have a resume in MS Word, PDF, txt, or HTML format, or a LinkedIn profile, you’re good to go.

We’ve also integrated with Plaxo, meaning it’s easier than ever to share NotchUp with your friends. You can now invite your friends from LinkedIn, Gmail, Yahoo, Plaxo, Outlook and AOL to join you on NotchUp with just a couple clicks. Just a reminder – for any friend you invite, we give you a bonus equal to 10% for what they make on every interview they do for one year.

Always a sucker for new features I thought great let’s go check them out.

Firstly the LinkedIn integration that you can now upload the PDF profile that is created by LinkedIn. There are also instructions on how to export your contacts from LinkedIn into NotchUp, via CSV. The process interprets the PDF from LinkedIn and updates your NotchUp profile, but making users go through a multi-step process is not the best approach.

I went through the process and the result was ok, not perfect, it messed up the order of my current role. Now given LinkedIn has a series of APIs I would have thought the integration could of been a little better, maybe this is in version 2? I also tried uploading my standard MS-Word resume, which again did a reasonable job but messed up my speaking and writing activities and made them jobs?

The pure Plaxo integration is a little better and semi-automated, but relies on you already having all of your contacts in Plaxo. I tested loading my contacts but was then unable to test the other services as Plaxo assumed from then on that all of my contacts were in Plaxo. Which is a Plaxo issue more than a NotchUp issue.

Overall a nice set of new features, some could have been a little more comprehensive but in time they might be. I guess my biggest issue is we are still forcing users to move their data between systems instead of using provided APIs. Again I know this is not a NotchUp issue but more an industry issue.

A final thought I wonder how many people are actually getting paid via Notchup for interviews?

Corporate Social Networks

While there is lots of press about the consumer social networking space, there is also movement in the corporate social networking arena. IBM has been watching the development of social networks for awhile now and participating heavily in virtual worlds and other 2.0 like activities. Microsoft on the other hand has been relatively quiet on what they are doing other than saying Sharepoint and Exchange are the future. This gap was highlighted a couple of days ago during an Enterprise 2.0 Faceoff between IBM and Microsoft at the Boston Enterprise 2.0 conference. CIO Australia had a good run down of the event which in summary showed:

While both vendors showed their products could integrate with existing e-mail systems (especially e-mail systems that they sell, such as Notes and Exchange), IBM’s Lotus Connections looked, at minimum, a year or more ahead of SharePoint in its social computing capabilities out of the box.

What is really interesting is today I see 2 posts, one from ComputerWorld and the other by Mary Jo Foley from ZDNet about a new corporate social networking tool, Townsquare, coming out of Office Labs, an internal Microsoft incubator. It seems TownSquare has been tested by up to 8,000 Microsoft employees and according to ComputerWorld several unnamed customers as well. Microsoft will be announcing more details on Townsquare tomorrow at the Enterprise 2.0 conference.

Townsquare seems to be set out in a very similar fashion to Facebook, see the image below from ComputerWorld, which given their investment in Facebook is not surprising.

So while the current Microsoft offerings around Sharepoint might be lacking it seems they are busy preparing to remedy the situation.

Facebook the new enterprise tool?

Prolific Australian blogger and entrepreneur Ben Barren posted about Facebook enterprise, discussing Verizon’s recent move to shutdown their corporate social network in favour of it’s Facedbook Fan page. Now I agree with Ben a Fan page is NOT a social network, but as he said it could be a great place to start your strategy.

I would take this a little further and look at why were customers more at home on the Facebook platform than the corporate social network? What attributes make a fairly limited Fan page more interesting than an full blown network, which allowed blogs, photos and forums? It would be interesting to be a fly on the wall in the Verizon marketing department while the discussion on the decision took place.

Another interesting thing was when I followed the links via Read Write Web to Inside Facebook I found this comment:

Facebook is working on a major upgrade to Pages to make them more compelling for businesses to build a deep presence on Facebook. We’ll have more details as they become available. Clearly, Verizon decided that trying to run its own branded social network wasn’t worth the effort.

Hmm, this will be something to watch. I am really seeing Facebook moving towards trying to be the de facto standard platform for social networks.

Another interesting note is I have recently had experience in setting up a social network internally for an organisation, for a variety of reasons it was too difficult. So we used a closed Facebook group as a starting point. The idea was if it was successful we could get approval for a broader internal tool.

Glasshouses allow you to see inside

Today I saw two posts float past on the Friendfeed feed in Twhirl about a new startup Glassdoor that has recently launched so I figured I needed to take a look. The first post was from my newest tech news location The Inquisitr, which provided a good basic “tech like” overview of the service.

Glassdoor takes the idea behind The Funded and applies it to every company in the United States, a nation wide watercooler of employee condition gossip and sharing. Ultimately this will only end up as good as the level of community contributions, but it’s an untapped space that would seem to have huge possibilities. Definitely a site to watch.

The second post raised my interest from Laurel Papworth (aka SilkCharm), one of Australia’s leading minds on social networking, she posted Recruitment 2.0 – Glassdoor Community. What? When I read The Inquisitr post the last thing I thought about was recruitment 2.0, but then I was thinking about it from the wrong point of view, Laurel I assume was thinking about it in part from the candidate’s perspective. D’oh serves me right to skim read posts and not think carefully about things, also I should not have 40 tabs open in 2 Firefox sessions, 3 half written emails and and host of other things going at once.

Yes Laurel is right from a candidate perspective this is a goldmine. Allowing candidates to research the inner workings of an organisation before joining them.

But if the company is also listening to the feedback they will know what is being said about them and can then react as required. Think of it as a perpetual employee opinion survey. This is a good indication of how engaged your employees are, the area they dislike and some great verbatim comments on the positives and negatives.

Ok yes, how do we know the data is right and not tainted?? You don’t. But it is what people will read about the organisation before they join and a good indication of how employees really feel on the inside as well. So this data is impacting your employer brand and perception in the market so even if you dismiss the data you need to take action.

Even Glassdoor provides some feedback to employers on how to handle the information:-

Specifically, Glassdoor can help you:

  • Get free, real-time feedback. Supplement your own annual surveys, with a real time look at what your employees really think. This can help you quickly identify any issues and capitalize on your strengths.
  • See how you stack up. Glassdoor lets you instantly see how you compare to the competition. This allows you to focus on the differentiators that matter most to your employees and prospective recruits.
  • Get recognized for what matters most. If you’re among the best on Glassdoor, that means something. Unlike ‘best of’ lists we provide unedited and unbiased accounts from employees, much like the people’s choice of employer awards. This provides yet another valuable tool to help you recruit top talent.

Now take this a step further, beyond recruitment and general satisfaction. What happens when investors and customers start using the site to see how satisfied the employees are before making investing or purchasing decisions? Do you think the C-level’s will then start to take an interest in employee satisfaction, compensation programs and management practices? Could you build an ROI now for your next HR program on this basis?

Just as I went to publish this post Techcrunch has joined in on the game posting about Glassdoor as well, they have fancy graphs that I could not find on the site.

Using Facebook to Learn

Just a quick post as my laptop battery is about to die:-).

Last week I noticed an interesting post over at The InquisitrUdutu Launches LMS Application For Facebook“, very interesting an actual revenue generating application for Facebook! Their press release can be read here. While the Facebook application is still in Beta it is a very interesting concept, with lots of potential I installed the products and will see how they go. In the meantime here is a summary of the tools.

Udutu already offer a product to author courses, myUdutu, the content can then be distributed either via your own SCORM compliant server or you can use Udutu’s infrastructure. The authoring tool is free, Udutu make money from clients using their infrastructure.

While the new offerings UdutuTeach and UdutuLearn currently only operating on Facebook, Udutu says they will support other social networking platforms, MySpace, Bebo, and LinkedIn. But they don’t say they will support Google’s OpenSocial framework specifically I assume they will. UdutuLearn also seems to allow you to import other SCORM complaint content into the application meaning non-Udutu content could be delivered via the Facebook platform.

From their press release:

The Udutu LMS, which is comprised of the Udutu Teach and Udutu Learn modules, enables both
“teachers” and “learners” to use Facebook, and over time similar sites, to perform a variety of tasks
that coincide with conducting or taking an e-learning session, including:
– uploading courses (SCORM packages) into the social networking platform or developing courses
directly within Facebook
– defining individuals or groups of individuals that are members of the social networking site as
learners or teachers for particular course packages
– tracking learner progress through the SCORM API
– collecting payment for course material (when appropriate)
– generating reports on learner progress (accessible only to course administrators)
– issuing certification to learners that have completed the course in the appropriate manner
– exchanging feedback between learners and teachers about various courses
– providing public evaluations of courses by learners
– searching for courses based on content and other member ratings

There are lots of opportunities for this platform, such an in HR on boarding program that new employees can access via their favourite social network before they join your organisation, or allowing employees to access professional development from home without the need to IT access to your network.
Of course there are lots of commercial opportunities for content providers.

Until September 2008 the tool will be free, following this there will be a $5 per user/course charge, no too bad but could limit some of the take up.

Creating corporate mash potatoes

One of the attributes of Web 2.0 that has had such a profound effect is that of openness. Openness in all forms, communication, plans and technology. The technology openness, via RSS, REST, XML, and APIs has allowed both professional and hobby developers to create new applications based on different data, sites and services. This result has been labelled a Mashup.

One of the perceived keys of Enterprise 2.0 is the corporate mashup, allowing both internal and external data to be brought together to create new value adding tools. Of course this is not the easiest thing in the world to do as corporate environments have many layers of technical complexity to navigate such as identity management, system security, historical databases etc. This means for the corporate mashup to work a framework needs to be put in place to enable and help resolve these complexities.

Enter the IBM Mashup Centre. Announced in April 2008 IBM are getting ready for a more general release and based on a recent InfoWorld article have several big customers trialling the tool such as Boeing and Carrefour.

IBM Mashup Center will let non-technical users create programs, using widgets that can be dragged and dropped, and combined with internal systems such as SAP. A mashup might combine enterprise systems such as databases, personal content like Excel spreadsheets, and Web content, Carrier says.

Apparently you can download a trial version from IBM’s Lotus Greenhouse, however when I tried to access the site it was down.

It will be interesting to see where the product goes and how it is embraced by corporate IT types.

CedarCrestone HR Systems Survey is on!

Now in its 11th year the CedarCrestone HR Systems survey is on again. Over the years the survey has highlighted early trends and provided consultants, vendors and buyers insight into what is happening in the marketplace. The survey results will be released at the HR Technology conference in October. Best of all, if it is like previous years the results are free to download.

So who should participate? Anyone who is in HR or IT and has knowledge on the current and future usage of HR technology within their organisation. They are targeting organisations with over 500 employees, so I guess I can’t fill in the survey for my new business ;-).

What does the survey cover?

The survey is broad in its coverage, including:
• Talent management and business intelligence applications
• Self service, portal, and Web 2.0 innovations
• Sourcing choices. Do you keep processes, technology, and people in-house or do you outsource?
• Current year expenditures and next year’s budgets
• Metrics such as employee/HR staff ratios, administrative costs per employee, and many others that will be invaluable benchmark metrics

Take the survey now until 16th July.

Enterprise 2.0 & HCM vendors

There have been several posts recently about Web 2.0 and Human Capital Management (HCM) vendors saying it is more than a fancy user interface (UI), which seems to be all HCM vendors are promoting at the moment. On that front I could not agree more, but I would take things to a deeper level.

Web 2.0 should be thought of in two different contexts, firstly as a period in time like the dot com boom and second as a philosophy based around several key concepts:-

  • Sharing
  • Transparency
  • User generated content
  • Collaboration
  • Bottom up
  • Openness
  • Mashups

Where fundamentally the web is a platform!

These concepts refer to both the tools and the practices for implementing Web 2.0 and social software. It is generally accepted that Web 2.0 and social software implemented within the firewall is referred to as Enterprise 2.0, which I will use from now on.

Jason Corsello from the Human Capitalist starts to bring the subject to light by saying:-

What’s missing in the HCM markets definition of “web 2.o”, is the impact and value of social software (blogs, wikis, social networks, search, RSS, etc). Frankly, I think social software is destined to be a huge component of HCM software in the future, yet few vendors know what it is or how to take advantage of its value

He is right Enterprise 2.0 is destined to be a huge component in HCM software, the question that still needs to be answered is how?

Right now we have two broad camps in the HR technology area, first traditional HRIS and the newer Talent Management tools, uptake of the tools and the functional division varies by country, so we all will not agree that there are two camps, yet. The HRIS area tends to be more administrative and transactional focused, while the talent management area tends to be around recruitment, development, learning and now compensation. So where does Enterprise 2.0 fit?

Well really in neither camps.

We could force it into talent management but it is not really about managing talent, it might help you attract and retain people but not manage them in the traditional sense. Enterprise 2.0 can also help with knowledge management, employee engagement and satisfaction. But not really talent management. And it definitely (ok maybe a little) doesn’t fit in the HRIS area. Enterprise 2.0 tools will sit on top of, around, integrated with and enabled by HRIS and Talent Management.

As mentioned earlier the attributes around Enterprise 2.0 are more cultural and fluid than formal process in nature, and is where things become difficult. Further the tools tend to be more bottom up in nature and are designed to subvert hierarchies. Factors which make implementations of Enterprise 2.0 a process unlike any already attempted by most organisations.

A final note Enterprise 2.0 will only work in organisations where it makes the organisation money. Why? Because most organisations are only there to make money.

More on this topic later.

Losing your job

More and more people are starting to talk not about if, but when, people will start losing their jobs due to the down turn in the economies. Certainly more so in the US but I am seeing signs in other western countries as well, including Australia.

Over the last few months I have written twice on the topic and today I saw a post from the CareerHub on the same topic. So I felt it is a good time to review what to do when you lose your job.

First panic! Actually no that is the WORSE thing you can do.

Basically there are three things you need to be doing. Firstly recover emotionally, second ensure you and your family can financially survive, and third make yourself as attractive as possible to potential employers. Period.

Below are a few more activities based on my experience and the 3 posts on what to do if you lose your job.

  • Allow yourself to grieve, but don’t dwell on the situation you can’t change the past. You need to get back to it as quickly as possible.
  • Stay focused on getting a new job
  • Network like you have never networked before
  • Update your resume
  • Ensure you take advantage of all severance benefits offered
  • Don’t get lazy & sit around doing nothing
  • Start promoting yourself in a way that suits your industry. This could be blogging, Twitter, volunteering, posting YouTube videos, participating in industry forums, commenting on blogs, anything to enhance your brand
  • Keep a schedule similar to your old one
  • Update or create profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, and country/industry specific social networking sites
  • Talk to people, loved ones, trusted colleagues, professional counsellors depending on your needs
  • Develop real actionable plans on how to go forward
  • Register for government benefits, don’t be shy
  • Revised your household budget

(Yes I know there is irony writing this post with my personal situation but to be honest I am following a lot of my own advice.)

Attraction & retention of staff

Two big areas of focus within HR departments is the attraction of good talent and then the retention of that talent. Some are now saying these function should be separated but that is a topic for another post. Global HR consulting firm Mercer is running an online survey designed to collect information on what HR departments across the global are doing in this area. For your efforts in completing the survey you can save 60% on the report that contains the results. That means you save US$624 in the report’s list price of US$1040, given that price tag I suspect only large companies will purchase it.