The Five Horsemen and you

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?

What’s Next?

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?

4th Australian HR Technology Survey

 

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

HR Technology Conference

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

Navigo Research 3rd Australian HR Technology Report

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.

Some content for you

In the interests of trying to save some of you from subscribing to multiple locations I will try to cross post content from Navigo Research here.

A few recent posts.

You have to action your data for it to be meaningful

A recent study by Cleo Magazine has found that many organisations are complying with the reporting requirements of the new Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 (Act) but not actually actioning the details. In fact until they were contact by Cleo they did not realise there was in fact a salary gap between genders, even though the information was in the reports submitted to WGEA.

Social Network Analysis and Succession Planning

A very neat use of LinkedIn Company Insights to look at the movement of staff between the different financial institutions in Australian. Also some thoughts on how social network analysis can be used for succession planning.

Since writing the post I have caught up with Riges Younan from Avature. Avature has a feature that allows organisations to build organisation charts within their talent pools. This reminded me a bit of the analysis undertaken by Dr Laurence Lock Lee in the post.

Speed, Agility and HR/Payroll Software

A short summary of the recent conferences (ATC and SuccessConnect) I attended. The outcome of which was a thought that while we are getting faster software  releases through SaaS/Coud offerings, have we restructured our businesses to take advantage of these features?

Where has all the content gone?

A short update.

As some will know I started a new job about 6 weeks ago. Like all new jobs things have been fairly busy, but I have been writing, just not here.

Most of my blogging is going to be over at the Navigo Research site.

I will still be blogging here, just at this stage not sure on the content. For now if you want to catch my blogging you will need to subscribe to both places :).

Over the next two weeks I will be in Sydney for a couple of conference. First the SuccessFactors SuccessConnect 2013 23-24 May  and then Australasian Talent Conference 28-30 May. I have some free time during this trip if you would like to catch up drop me an email.

7th Annual ATC Conference coming up

Brochure

The 7th Annual ATC Conference is just around the corner and from the looks of the agenda it will be as fantastic as the previous ones. This year’s theme is around agile talent management and will be looking at the different ways you can structure your talent management function.

As always the speaker line up is top quality and once again including several international representatives, including the likes of Gerry Crispin and Kevin Wheeler. Not to be out done by the international speakers there are local practitioners and consultants to help provide the Australian perspective; Davin D’Silva, Kimberley Hubble, and Jared Woods to mention a few.

The agenda has a few very interesting sessions that I hope to attend. Jenny Hoysted and Tony Wallace are running a session about agile workforce planning which given many organisations struggle with regular workforce planning going agile with it would prove to be difficult. Also Richard Lishewski, Global Talent Acquisition Director, Nike session on the different options to deliver talent to your organisation will provide a bit of a global context to things. There are several session around social recruitment, no surprise there, even a “social media bootcamp” for those yet to jump on board. Several sessions are looking at how to balance your workforce in an era of outsorcing, offshoring, contigency and redundancies.

While not speaking this year I am certainly planning to attend to catch up on what is going on.

(Disclosure: ATC have been a previous client and business partner of mine and the team are good friends.)

UPDATE: Since publishing this post I have been asked to assist in running one of the pre-conference workshops, Building a Winning Social Recruitment Business Case with Jared Woods.

On the Move

A few months ago I started assessing what I would be doing come the end of March after this very long project was over. I blogged a few times about the process of trying to decide where I was going and what I was doing, I even applied for a few jobs.

Well it is now time to make it official, from April 2nd 2013 I will be joining Navigo.

There is a fair bit more to this story than I am off to join some organisation.

Firstly very soon after my first post about starting to look for new challenges, Peter Forbes the owner of Navigo, reached out and asked if we could catch up. We caught up for a coffee in Hawthorn and discussed the state of the Australian marketplace, some of the things I have been trying to do with Inspecht and more importantly where he had been going with the Australia HR Technology Report. Navigo had released 2 reports purely focused on HR Technology in Australia, something brand new and really needed.

We both knew that the marketplace wanted information about vendors and trends but Peter could now back this up with solid research. I had experienced the same while building Inspecht and what Navigo now had, which I did not at Inspecht, was this research.

During 2012 Peter decided that he wanted to build out a new business line under the Navigo brand focusing purely on Research and Advisory. As part of this he went to market to try and recruit a Research and Advisory Analyst, with very limited luck. However when I blogged about looking for new work he felt I might be suited to the business, so he reached out.

Over the next couple of months we met a few times discussing what the role might look like. I took Peter through some of my thoughts about what I was looking for in a role. At the same time he took me through the way the Navigo ran it’s business, from the heavy use of Confluence, fully integrated into their Sugar CRM environment to their process focused style of operations. As the relationship grew so did my comfort level of joining another organisation to continue the type of work I had started in 2009/2010 with Inspecht.

So a couple of weeks ago I accepted the role as Senior Advisory at Navigo Research.

What does the role do:

  • Produce analysis and research into technology used in HR
  • Provide consulting and advisory services to Navigo Research customers
  • Promote and build the Navigo Research brand

Basically I will be building on the fabulous foundation of work already done on the HR Tech Report to write reports, white papers, and other research. In addition I will be building processes and practices to help organisations undertake technology reviews and complete the systems selection process. I plan to also work with both buyers and sellers of HR Technology in Australia to understand both the existing marketplace and the trends. (Vendors be ready for me to contact you.) With the best part of the role being to blog, write, and network with everyone and anyone in the HR Technology space in Australia.

There are a few practical things that will also change. (Other than I will have a real job.)

The Inspecht site has been closed and now re-directs here. There will be a new domain http://navigoresearch.com.au that will be launched before the end of April to be Navigo Research’s new home. We will be migrating all of the content from HR Tech Report to the new brand ( I say we but it’s really Jules the Navigo Marketing Manager who will do this part). From April 2nd you will also see me start to blog over at Navigo Research, this site will continue for personal blogging and the occasional rant.

Something else I want to address; products and independence. While Navigo resells some products that is under their solutions business line which is separate from the research. I will be working very hard to ensure that complete independence is kept and all vendors get an equal showing a view strongly held by Peter as well. If someone ever feels that is not happening please contact me as it will be my personal reputation on the line if that does not happen.

Disengaged Employees cost you US$2246 per employee every year

Profitability drives the actions of all organisation, even not for profits as they at least need to break even, as such senior leadership teams are constantly reviewing regular reports on the health of their organisation through financial, operational and people metrics. Unfortunately a majority of these metrics are looking backward at what took place during the last month, quarter or year.

Especially when you start looking at metrics such as Employee Engagement/Satisfaction which usually result out of an annual survey. Following the actual survey period is at least a month of analysis after which the result are usually distributed back to managers over a period of weeks if not months. Afterwards the long drawn out process of implementing the recommendations takes place. This can actually disengage employees as they do not see positive outcomes from the survey for many months.

At best organisations will have engagement figures that are only 90 days old, at worse over 12 months, resulting in executives using a historical view on the “health” of their largest expense for decision making.

Over the last few years serious financially based research has been taking place around how employee engagement impacts organisational financial performance. Alex Edmans’ most recent findings are:

Companies listed on the “100 Best Companies to Work For in America” generated 2.3% to 3.8% higher stock returns per year than their peers from 1984 through 2011.

Leading expert on employee engagement David Zinger provided an interesting fact; a disengaged employee is actually costing you US$2,246 per year. David’s source as a lovely infograph created by ADP in the US based several different bodies of research. Some other facts from the infograph include:

  • 67% of employees are not engaged, this is less than Australian estimates of around 80% not engaged
  • 49% of employees feel their executive do not create an environment that drive engagement
  • Engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave
  • Removing roadblocks and access to resources can improve employee performance by 25%

It is research like Alex Edmans and figures like the type from the ADP infograph that make it not surprise that switched on organisations take this seriously and are finding year old data on engagement just not “cutting the mustard”. Really switch on ones are doing something about it like Atlassian’s Mood App.