Internal Social Network Analysis

Following yesterday’s post on future recruiting technology, which looking back should have read future talent management technology, here is an example of thing I am seeing in the market.

SAP has built a Social Network Analyzer prototype for inside the organisation. (Hat tip James Governor.)

It aggregates existing enterprise data to display and discover organizational relationships. It provides the missing link between social networking platforms and enterprise information systems, by letting organizations leveraging data available in corporate information systems.

SNA helps jump-start social networking within the organization by letting you import and aggregate all the corporate relationships between people that are already recorded in your business applications, such as:

  • Management hierarchies from your human resources system
  • Data on who worked on which deals from your sales force automation system
  • Partner, customer, and partner supplier contacts along your supply chain
  • People who work on similar transactions within your operational systems

The early images show a product user interface that is very different to anything I have seen from the German Giant.

The tool bring data from disparate systems across the enterprise into a single view to see who is interacting with whom via relationships there can be significant talent management benefits, other than collaboration:

  • Look at the interaction of at risk high performers, are their other high performers that also might be at risk due to social relationships?
  • Top talent referrers, who else do they interact with and are they providing referrals, if not why?
  • Do poor performers interact together?
  • Do top performers interact together?

The tool can import any data that describes a relationship between two people or objects you can uncover relationships between individuals, groups and departments that do not appear in the traditional organisation structure.

Now what if we added into the mix information about external social networks??

Let’s not forget the privacy issues, to quote James:

I thought it was kind of funny, though obviously not surprising, that one of the reasons SAP has been slow to turn the prototype into product is European data protection law. While American firms would consider metadata about employee interactions to be company property, under German law that is certainly not the case – no, in Germany it would be called spying.

Will this product see the light of day? Will it be deployed in many organisations? What would trade unions think of the tool? All these questions and more will ultimately determine the future of this particular technology.

The future of recruiting technology

I have been thinking a lot recently about the future of recruiting technology. While social networking is all the rage at the moment it is not new, and was first seen as a recruitment tool at least two to three years ago if not longer.

So where to next?

I usually look at future technology trends with two view points, the Gartner Hype Cycle and Chris Anderson’s, from Wired Magazine, four key stages of technology viability.

First let’s look at the Gartner Hype Cycle. 

Hype Cycle

According to Gartner the visibility of new technologies peaks early with lots of hype and excitement, followed by a “trough of disillusionment” where inflated expectations hit reality. It is at this time when fundamental changes in both what the technology does and how we use them takes place. Sometimes technology does not survive but as the technology begins to prove itself we see it being used productively.

The trick it to know where a technology is on this curve. For example social recruiting, “peak of inflated expectations” or “slope of enlightenment”?

The second approach I have been thinking about was provided by Chris Anderson at TED in 2004 where he talked about technology collisions as a way of assessing its viability. The four collisions he lists are:

  1. Critical Price
  2. Critical Mass
  3. Displacing another technology
  4. Commoditise, nearly free

For example, job boards are moving toward being a commodity. Using free software anyone can create a job board for a community in about 24 hours.

Following FutureSummit I am also looking at the future in the terms of MegaTrends. The two trends of note here are the Rise of Asia and Connectivity. With connectivity, while social networking is all the rage now we don’t grasp what is going to happen as mobile connectivity really takes off. Could this mobility in social networking change influence?

So I have three attributes to consider now for technology each with their own factors to consider. I suspect somewhere in the mix is the future, now if I can only find it.

Trend Influences

Future Summit Wrap Up

How do I summarise Future Summit 2009? The Future
(Credits: From Flickr aussiegall)

I guess the best way as being talked to for 25 hours in a 36 hour period! This is a very different format to many of the other events I attend which tend to be more collaborative.

This lack of collaborative time where the participants were able to discuss the future was my biggest complaint. Most of the panels discussed issues of today that need to be resolved, not what the future holds, and unfortunately any talk of the future was just that, talk. The session content also tended to be very hit and miss on the quality. 

Over the two days there were three that stood out.

First was Alison Sander from Boston Consulting Group’s (BCG) presentation on Megatrends (the second session) was one of the best sessions and eye opener. Maybe I am a bit slow but I had not explicitly thought about tapping into these trends as a method of growth. BCG tracks four types of trends; Terra, Economic, Technology and Meta but as Alison said just knowing about these trends is not enough. Action is what is needed. BCG provides their clients a four phase model on how to leverage megatrends:

  1. Recognize
  2. Understand
  3. Act
  4. Profit

I guess I have always done 1 and 2 but failed on 3 and 4, which is why I am not a billionaire ;-). A couple of interesting statistics I picked up, 60% of the world’s population is in Asia, and in 2006 the world’s population became more urban than not.

The next session of interest was not until late Tuesday morning looking at technology as an enabler of prosperity and growth. I had very high hopes of this session given the quality of the panel; Tracey Fellows MD Microsoft Australia, Holly Kramer Group MD Telstra Product Management, Dr Paul Twoney CEO ICANN, Professor Max Lu, and Glenn Wightwick CTO IBM Australia. While the discussion was a bit up and down some of the key gems came from Paul Twoney and Dr Lu.

Paul Twoney highlighted that while about 70% of the room had businesses that sold something on the Internet only about 2 people did so in a language other than English. Then came the kicker, Paul states that Brisbane, Sydney and Los Angeles are the only cities that have people who can speak all 38 languages of Asia (I would suspect Melbourne is very close). Dr Lu then went on to talk to us about solar being the ultimate energy source, nano ethics and social responsibility of nano technology and that the future of nanotechnology in manufacturing has a pervasive impact. The final key message was from Paul Twoney who challenged the audience to look at what we could be doing with broadband to help on climate change, water, globalisation and population growth.

The final session of serious interest was on harnessing Australian talent. Australia has been so successful building an international education program that we have reducing public funding to our own education institutions, which is impacting our ability to develop talent. International education students are a $15.5 billion industry for Australia, almost the 2nd largest export! One of the best quotes from the session came from Professor Gill Palmer of RMIT “people are a countries competitive advantage”.

The talent session then moved to looking at corporate management of talent. I can’t remember who provided stated this but, Australia is the worst in the OECD when it comes to amount of money corporations allocate to educating their employees. Another interesting statistic is that 67% of boardroom conversations are deeply inhibited, through one reason or another, making only 33% of boardroom conversations useful! Australia as over 1 million citizens living overseas, why are organisations not trying to bring them home as a method of talent development?

I had several interesting discussions. First discussion was at the gala dinner with two individuals; one from big business the other a major educational institution. We were discussing the issue of clean energy. Both told me that much of the technology existed today; just no one had put it all together. So I asked why they don’t open source it, so we can solve the energy problem. The answer, no one can make money out of open source and how do you know that people will not hold back their key ideas. The second discussion was over lunch where we were discussing how to inform the average Australian business about Megatrends for business growth. One of the first answers was to create a government institution of trend spotting to then communicate to the public.

My final thoughts. Australia has a good future; however this future could be great if we as a society learn how to harness key trends. Big business also needs to radically change to institutions that open up communications internally, become more socially responsible and finally grow and develop their employees.

ATC: Kevin Wheeler

Kevin closed out the final day of ATC with a great look at the future, getting the audience to really think about what is next. His theme retrain, redeploy and refresh. We are currently experiencing significant change across many areas:

  • Economic sea change
  • The end or beginning of the end of traditional media, schools, large organisations
  • Rise of cultural & economic salads
  • Terrorism/oil/energy/flu/pandemics
  • Shift to virtual worlds
This period of extreme change where extremophiles, things that survive by bring polar opposites together, will be the only organisations that survive. Organisations need to change as we are moving into the era of the free agent, “the future belongs to small organisations that build on creativeness and adaptability”.

Kevin sees five key themes in the future:

  1. Talent strategy is becoming the CEO concern
  2. Creative class employees will dominate
  3. Sustainability will be the focus
  4. Gen Y values will be mainstream values
  5. Virtual will increasing replace F2F interactions

I am going to skip the first item as to me and many of you this is not new, instead let’s look at the last 4 items.

Creative Class

Composed of scientists, engineers, architects, designers, educators, artists, musicians and entertainers whose economic function is to create new ideas, new technology, or new content. Approximately 38 million people in the US today. Kevin feels knowledge workers are old school and the world will be driven once again by the creative class.


  • Reuse/Recycle/Retain/Refresh
  • Use only what is needed
  • Hire & retain for broad based competences not specialisation
  • Retrain and develop through cross-functional & rotational experience and through informal networks
  • Redeploy and retrain constantly
  • Remove barriers to learning

Gen Y Values

  • Transparency is everything
  • Authenticity is expected
  • Teams define themselves
  • Tasks are chosen, not assigned
  • Contributions count more than credentials
  • Rewards are intrinsic as well as tangible

During 20th Century is was about transactions, routines and efficiency, 21st is about relationships, personalisation, and communications


  • Social media is now core to the internet
  • Search is being automated
  • Profiles are starting to replace resumes (finally!)

Kevin intorduced a few emerging applications: JobVite, Entice Labs, YuMe and Adchemy. Finishing up with seven tips on surviving with extremophiles:

  1. Recognizing how polarities create strong networks
  2. Ongoing context sensing (beyond episode)
  3. Capacity to innovate or hibernate
  4. Support workers with empathy (not sympathy)
  5. Bring in and neutralise your treats
  6. Creating symbiotic relationships
  7. Develop self-replicating memes

HR Futures Presentations now available

It is about 6 weeks since the HR Futures Conference so I felt it was about time to finish up getting the content produced out there. Most of the speakers have posted on their own sites but we still needed to get them together in a single place.  So yesterday I pulled them all together.  All presentations are now available over at HR Futures. The audio snipits are also still in the work.

Remember there are a bunch of photos on Flickr and you can follow the continued discussion on Twitter.

Second Life Business Teleconferencing

Today Second Life & Red River announced a new service called “Immersive Workspaces” providing an special area on the Second Life grid to allow business meetings to take place. 

Some of the interesting features of the system:

Organizations then have the option of a completely exclusive and secure experience, with no connectivity to the Second Life mainland, or a connected experience that enables employees to traverse the two domains without having to log on or off.

 A set of tightly integrated web-based applications and the ability to seamlessly upload and integrate real world content – e.g., PowerPoint – brings enterprise-level efficiency and flexibility into a virtual world.

But I have to agree with Silicon Alley Insider *yawn*, even the YouTube video demo is fairly meaningless the interaction did not need this new immersive workspace to finalise a presentation.

Now at least the annoucement by Nortel (disclosure I use to work there) in August of their web.alive project had some useful features.

“People are no longer satisfied with existing collaboration tools or with static web sites supported only by a telephone contact center as the main point of interaction. They want to discuss potential purchases with others, exchange ideas, make business proposals, and fluidly interact with others in real-time,” said Arn Hyndman, web.alive chief architect. “Additionally, web.alive will offer security not available with other virtual environments today because it is integrated with corporate enterprise systems and software.”

The intergration with enterprise security systems is key for using these virtual worlds for business transactions. Why? Because this integration the provides the identity foundation that trust and repuation can be built.

But will these virtual world applications revolutionise corporate collaboration, not in their current state.

Thoughts from Web Directions 2008

On Thursday and Friday last week I attended Web Directions South 2008, my first web only conference in a while. Overall it was a good event, but like most conferences there were some up & downs. Probably the biggest two downs were the opening Key Note and the lack of coffee on arrival on Friday morning. The biggest ups were Mark Pesce’s closing Key Note and David Peterson’s Semantic web for distributed social networks presentation, followed closely by August de los Reyes from Microsoft.

So did I get an ROI for my $1,500 investment (conference fees, airfare and miscellaneous expenses)?

Yes, in several areas a few of them are:

  • I got to meet a large number of people face to face for the first time after communicating online with them for so long.
  • I meet a large number of new people, I tried to average 5-10 new people per day.
  • Mark Pesce’s talk, as always, was inspiring.
  • David Peterson renewed my hope that FOAF and the Semantic will infact become a reality.
  • Laurel Papworth reinforced that yes social media can make money.
  • Surface computing is cool!
  • Data visualisation done well is also cool!
  • There is lots of cool tech stuff going on in Melbourne, just not sure why I had to go to Sydney to find it.
  • I learnt a fair bit on presentaion style, what works and what really doesn’t.
  • Connections with several people that might turn into paying business, which is great.
  • Finally there are a lot of books I need to read.
The telling fact is will I come back next year. Probably yes.

Jobs on the go

Over the last couple of weeks I have been pondering the impact of the mobile web on recruitment. As such I have been thinking through several possible use cases but at this stage I have not found the killer app.

We have already seen several companies trying to use SMS notifications for job adverts and shift notifications but let’s take it a step further.

Using your mobile phone to search the average job board for a new offering is probably not going to be the killer app in this area. Other areas:

  • Branding, branding, branding
  • Mobile friendly pages
  • SMS notifications of new jobs posted that match your requirements, this would allow you to be first to view the job
  • SMS notifications from your ATS reminding candidates of job interview times and maps, might even include links to transport sites etc anything to help the candidate get to the interview on time
  • SMS notifications from your ATS reminding recruiters and/or managers of interviews or if a hard to fill position has an application (doubtful application but you never know)
  • Using QR Codes to provide additional content at job fairs
  • Placing QR Code stickers around job fairs or University campus’s to generate a buzz for your brand, of course you will have a mobile friendly landing page, maybe even use a .mobi domain

In case you don’t know what a QR Code is, from Wikipeidia:

QR Codes storing addresses and URLs may appear in magazines, on signs, buses, business cards or just about any object that a user might need information about. A user having a camera phone equipped with the correct reader software can scan the image of the QR Code causing the phone’s browser to launch and redirect to the programmed URL. This act of linking from physical world objects is known as a hardlink or physical world hyperlinks.

Here is one that directs you to Inspecht:


Update: There has been a bit of a further uptake in Australia on QR Codes with an article in the IT Australian today.

Video resumes in the Australian marketplace

I am still busy reviewing what HR and recruitment progress I missed in the last 2 years while I worked in pure IT roles.

One area that still seems to be bubbling along slowly is the video resume, with opinions on if they are good or bad, we now even have our own player in the Australian market, Candidates Alive.

Candidates Alive are targeting the recruitment agencies instead of candidates directly. The process is candidates apply for a job, speak to the agency and then the agency produces a professional 1 – 2 minutes video that is sent to the hiring employer. This model works as a majority of recruitment in Australia is conducted via agencies not employers directly.

They launched late last year with a range of press coverage, including a very good article in the New Zealand Herald, which highlights many of the potential issues around the video resume. The biggest of which is discrimination, on all sorts of fronts.

Candidates Alive conducted research that indicated hiring managers prefer the video resume, this was done by providing the manager both a video link and a traditional resume at the same time. The managers clicked on the links first then the traditional resume. While Candidates Alive used this to say that manager prefer the video, I would counter saying it shows how easily discrimination could take place.

A big issue I see with the model is that agencies see to retain the copyright on the candidate’s video, from the New Zealand Hearld:-

Under this system, recruiters retain copyright of the resumes they produce – candidates can check them to make sure they are all right, and can see how many times they’ve been viewed, but they have no control over the clips.

This is all sorts of bad. I read the terms and conditions on the Candidates Alive web site and could not specifically see this clause so it could have changed. But if this is the case I would caution candidates from giving away their image/brand to agencies to do with what they want!!

I don’t know if over time the video resume will take off, personally I doubt it, but it is certainly an area to watch.

A final note the founder of Candidates Alive, Jonathan Weinstock was listed as an up and coming entrepreneur in the June edition of Anthill magazine. Congratulations!

New model for management

Couple of related posts appeared in my feed reader today.

First was from Mark Pesce who wrote about the fact that education provided in schools currently does not reflect modern communication cultures. When a kid goes to school they have to disconnect from the “hyperconnected” world.

What this means, in a practical sense, is that students have lost respect for the classroom, because it has no relevance to their lives. Yes, they will be polite – as they’re polite to their grandparents – but that is no substitute for a real working relationship. School will be endured, because parents and state mandate it. But it’s a waiting game.

This drawing parallels to how many a Gen Y approaches the modern corporation. They turn up because for many it is the only way to make money but it holds no relevance to their lives. They are generally not engaged.

The challenge for managers both today and in the future is to make the corporation relevant.

Or is it?

This brings me to the second post, from Collab@Work referencing a HBR article, which develops the notion that leaders in MMORPG games, like WOW, are the future leaders of business.

… players who lead teams in the game are learning skills that they will be able to use in business situations, when they will become leaders in the organization

The authors focus on three main components of this leadership: speed, risk-taking and temporary aspect of leadership position.

So, does it matter that the modern corporation has no relevance to the future generations because they will change the corporation to suit?

My take. It does matter, today, and only to corporations not Gen Y. It is the old story you want to attract Gen Y you need to engage them, companies that don’t will go out of business, while those that do will prosper.

The post from Collab@Work goes on to discuss leadership as temporal. Just cause you were the leader of project X does not mean you are the leader of project Y. A very interesting idea which I will explore later.