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?

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.

Assessing cloud for HR Technology

I was driving home today listening to The Cloud Computing podcast where Chris Dailey discussed an article entitled Scrap you code. Start from scratch for cloud which was suggesting that smaller companies do not need to invest on-premise computing offerings instead they can go straight to the cloud for everything. The premise of this, going all cloud, was you saved money, became more agile, executed faster deployments delivering an overall better result. Chris and his fellow panelists disagreed with this approach being 100% right all the time, and I totally agree with them. To quote one of the panelist:

Buy what you can for your business from the cloud that makes sense but there is a good chance there is an expect of your business that will require specialization and that the cloud will not make that go away.

Instead you should go through a process of mixing and matching different technologies to an end result that delivers value for your business and allows your business to operate in the manner it finds most effective. Just like on-premise software implementations to be successful you need to start by assessing your business needs and then select the most effective product for that need, regardless of technology.

Going cloud for every new requirement or migrating currently operating on-premise software to the cloud just because everything should be cloud based is wrong.  You need to work towards an optimized solution that considers your business requirements, reviewing the value of all existing technologies to determine which types of products and technologies provides the best value for your business problem.

These same process should take place with your HR/Payroll technology selections. Does it make the most sense to host your online job board on your own IT infrastructure running on-premise software or is it best to use an Software as a Service (SaaS) provider? Your payroll software should that be on-premise or SaaS?

Finally these questions cannot and should not be answered in isolation they need to be reviewed based on your business requirements, IT strategy, HR strategy to determine the solution that offers the most value to your organisation.

Cloud Computing and HR

cloud-computing

Yes another trend post, there might be a few more as I get my head across all that has happened in the last year or so.

Cloud Computing has been gaining momentum over the last few years, in HR it is getting some significant airtime and how could it not with the success of cloud vendors such as Workday, Rypple now Work.com part of Salesforce and Taleo now part of Oracle. However I want to look a bit further as what makes up cloud computing not really looking at at vendors, benefits or pitfalls (these could be later posts).

In simple terms Cloud Computing is basically off-premise computing, essentially where you, the customer, do not have the computing environment located physically in your offices. In reality things are far more complex than this. I first talked about Cloud Computing 4 years ago since then the industry has continued to develop its definition of cloud computing and now we seem to have a common understand and framework around the topic.

Essentially there are three relevant “flavours” of cloud computing each operating at a different level in the technology ecosystem. First Infrastructure as a service (IaaS), then Platform as a service (PaaS) and finally Software as a service (SaaS) (there are two additional layers around the network and communications infrastructure but do not really influence the application landscape).

What is IaaS? At a basic level this is where a vendor provides you a virtual server to deliver a specific application usually a web site. Essentially all of my web sites and applications run on a IaaS model provided by Rackspace Cloud. Rackspace provide me with a virtual server and I do the rest, install software, complete maintenance and upgrades. Other examples of IaaS include Amazon EC2, DynDNS and Joyent. There tend to be two types of IaaS; public and private. As part of an HR technology strategy public IaaS would usually only be included when it’s part of a broader organizational-wide IT strategy to use public IaaS.

Today most corporate IT environments have been virtualised onto a private IaaS model. This change has impacted us from a HR technology perspective as it has significantly reduced the lead time in getting new servers for projects.  Now most HR technology projects have a portion of IaaS in them, even if it is private. The benefit; gone are the days when a 8-12 week lead time is needed to have a new server ordered, delivered and commissioned by the IT department, most servers can now be delivered in a matter of hours. Another benefit is scalability, need more “grunt”? Need more memory? Need more disk space? Most can easily be added by the flick of a switch. For public IaaS offerings the service is usually delivered on a utility basis ie based on how much you use.

PaaS is when a cloud provider delivers a computing platform where applications and services can be built on top of, resulting in developers being able to focus on building cool software solutions instead of worrying about managing the hardware, operating system and databases. Example PaaS providers include Google App Engine, Force.com and Windows Azure Compute. We are starting to see a number of HR offerings being delivered on top of these platforms, specifically on the Force.com platform where you can access full-functioning HR systems, recruitment solutions and learning management systems along with smaller apps that can site onto of Salesforce to providing LinkedIn information as part of the sales process.

Finally SaaS is the layer in which most people interact with Cloud Computing. Here the provider offers their application to you the user across a network, usually the Internet, and you do not need to worry about installing and running the application on your own computers or those of IaaS providers. Most of the time you gain access to the software via a subscription model, but not always. It is at the SaaS level we see the most impact on HR Technology Strategy. Today you can run your entire HR Systems environment “in the cloud” through solutions such as Workday, SAP (Cloud Global Payroll and Employee Central), Oracle Fusion to just a specific HR process using one of the vast range of point solutions.

In Australia we also have a huge marketplace of SaaS vendors covering the whole spectrum of HR and Payroll management including long time players such as PageUpPeople, NGA.net, Northgate Arinso and newer vendors like Recruitloop, Sherpa or murmur. If you are an Australian business looking at cloud computing for HR there is no reason you should not be able to find a solution to suit your requirements and most likely that solution will be Australian made.

The biggest issue with SaaS is there are so many vendors to choose from, do you look towards a full service offering or just point solutions? Do you go with global vendors or local vendors? This is where you need a clear strategy around your HR technology program and how it aligns with your not just your HR strategy but also IT and business. Cloud computing offers significant ROI when deployed for the right reason to support clear business objectives.

In summary from an HR perspective we are seeing cloud computing infiltrate at the bottom layer through private-IaaS and at the top layer through SaaS. If you do not have some form of cloud computing in your HR technology landscape today you will in the very near future.

Big Data and Management

Over the last couple of weeks I have been very interested in the growth of Big Data. A few years ago Big Data was primarily found in academic and marketing writing, ie not in the main stream. This has changed with many commentators now discussing the merits that this new frontier has to offer.

For those not up to date what is Big Data?:

big data is a collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools or traditional data processing applications. The challenges include capture, curation, storage, search, sharing, analysis, and visualization.

In other words think the Human Genome program or where I have seen more mainstream commentary, analyzing the status updates from services such as Twitter or Facebook. There are lots of reasons why Big Data is important and understanding how to use it and leverage it will become critical for business success. The biggest issue we face that Big Data will help solve is the vast amount of data points we are generating through social networks, trends such as cloud computing and The Internet of Things.

While much of the discussion around Big Data is consumer based there have been a number of notable discussions about the use of Big Data inside the enterprise and unsurprisingly these discussions include the impact of Big Data on HR and how we can now tie employee data to other large datasets for predictive modelling and recruitment.

In her paper from April 2010, Privacy and Publicity in the Context of Big Data, danah boyd raises a number of pertinent points that I think deserve more thought an discussion in terms of their impact on business.

danah’s key points:

  1. Bigger Data are Not Always Better Data
  2. Not All Data are Created Equal
  3. What and Why are Different Questions
  4. Be Careful of Your Interpretations
  5. Just Because It is Accessible Doesn’t Mean Using It is Ethical

Each on of the above points have tremendous influence on how successful Big Data will be when used inside an organisation but I want to touch on two of her points that struck a chord with me. (However I would strongly suggest you go read her whole paper.)

danah’s first point of Bigger Data are Not Always Better Data, “Big Data is exciting, but quality matters more than quantity.  And to know the quality, you must know the limits of your data.” At a basic level just because you can review all of the tweets and connections of your employees or candidates does not mean you have all of the information about these people as they might have different accounts under different pseudonyms some might be protected others not. Just because you have access to millions of datapoints does not mean you have the right data points.

danah’s final point is the one that deserves the most thought. Just because data is accessible doesn’t mean that using it is ethical. Just because a candidate or an employee tweets or puts a status update on Facebook should we really use that data in our analysis? To quote danah:

To get here, we’ve perverted “public” to mean “accessible by anyone under any conditions at any time and for any purpose.”  We’ve stripped content out of context, labeled it data, and justified our actions by the fact that we had access to it in the first place.  Alarm bells should be ringing because the cavalier attitudes around accessibility and Big Data raise serious ethical issues.  What’s at stake is not whether or not something is possible, but what the unintended consequences of doing something are.

From here danah goes on to look at the concept of privacy and its many facets when it comes to information that has been placed in a public space. Recent case in point, Mark Zuckerberg’s sister and her Christmas photo. danah concludes that our obsession with Big Data has the ability to destabilise and change our social norms, I would say it already is, but this does not mean we need to remove the concept of privacy altogether.

Big Data is made of people. People producing data in a context.  People producing data for a purpose.  Just because it’s technically possible to do all sorts of things with that data doesn’t mean that it won’t have consequences for the people it’s made of.

There are great opportunities ahead for HR with adoption of “new” technologies such as Big Data and Cloud Computing however as we move towards this new world we need to be careful not to destabilise our workforce to a point where they disengage or worse still create a world that makes Orwell’s 1984 look like a kindergarten picnic.

Not dead and not forgotten

Yes I am alive, and yes this blog is alive. While it has been almost a year since my last post I have not been slacking off, just to documenting my journey. Over the years of blogging I tend to self-censor when I feel the work I am doing might lead me to write about something I should not, therefore I find it easiest not to write.

Over the last two years I have been involved in some very interesting activities, the largest being a major HR/Payroll systems overhaul in a health care provider. This activity has been the primary reason for my absence. As this process is nearing the end I am starting to look towards my next activity and reflect on my learnings from the process.

Some of my thoughts on this journey so far are:

  • Transforming businesses is never easy
  • Transforming a business that has done something the same way for 20+ years is not easy
  • Health care is complex
  • Bureaucracy and I are not the best of friends
  • Technology is usually never the issue
  • People are people

The above list might not be revolutionary but as with most things the “devil is in the detail” and the detail is not something I can share.

That is it for now, I hope to post more over the coming months.

NGA.Net Acquires Acelero for Performance Management

Last night at around 5.30pm I received a call from Penny Elmslie, the marketing manager at NGA.Net about two topics that they were very excited about. First was they had started a blog, second they had purchased a company.

While the first piece of news is not that earth shattering for some, I personally feel it is great that another Australian vendor has entered the blogging space. Hopefully NGA.Net will use this as an opportunity for people outside the organisation to learn a bit more about what makes them tick. You can find the blog at http://blog.nga.net/, the RSS feed is also available.

The second piece of news is far more exciting, well in my mind. NGA have acquired Acelero, the Sydney based Performance Management vendor. The acquisition fills a much needed gap in the NGA product line and to be honest allows them to meet their marketing claims:

“Software that helps large organisations to connect, recruit & develop their people”

Good news for Acelero staff as it seems 14 of them will be joining NGA, with Managing Director Ken Sheridan remaining as the head of the new NGA Performance Management division.

It will be interesting to see how long it takes to fully integrate the product lines so that NGA.Net customers have a true integrated talent management solution. I am not aware of the technical platform that Acelero was using, however it is good to see NGA were sensible and purchased an existing SAAS vendor so at least architecturally they are somewhat aligned.