Australian Vendors fail with RSS

01_01I was updating my feeds today and decided I had better add the news/press/media release for a number of local vendors. I had not done this earlier as last I had looked most did not provide RSS feeds, I had hoped this situation had changed.

Unfortunately I was wrong.

Of the 12 vendors I check before writing this post only 1 provided RSS for news updates and this was provided through a blog as their news source. Most had some form of email news/newsletter service.

The vendors without RSS news updates are:

The only vendor with RSS?

I just picked this list at random to add, they range in size and scope, and are a mix of recruitment,talent management and HR/Payroll software providers.

Lucky Google Reader now has the ability to create a feed from a static HTML page so I can sort of subscribe to the vendors updates via my RSS reader.

Slide show available online

I have put the slides from last night’s presentation online at SlideShare, they can be viewed via http://www.slideshare.net/mspecht/intro-for-hr-on-blogs-web-20/, only issue is you miss out on my fantastic commentary.

A couple of points

  • The cartoons are all Hugh Macleod’s of gapingvoid fame
  • To review the buzz words you need to view the CommonCraft Show videos
  • To learn about Web 2.0 you should read ClueTrain
  • Finally look through the links at the end as 90% of the content is found there, and you don’t need my commentary

Replacement eStarling Photo Frame

When I returned from Hong Kong there was a package waiting for me in the mal room. The folks over at ThinkGeek and eStarling have been very nice and provided us who purchased a 1st generation eStarling Wireless Photo Frame with a replacement. Why? Well the first frame had a few issues, was a bit ugly and had an external WiFi USB key.

The 2nd generation frame is so far proving to be the exact opposite. Within about 15 minutes of getting it home I had my photos from Flickr appearing via an RSS feed, including the 10 minutes I messed around once again forgeting I had MAC address filtering on our WiFi network, d’oh!

A few grips

  • The frame is widescreen format and I am getting black lines down the sides cause all our existing photos are 4:3 not 9:6
  • There is no MAC address printed on the box or frame so it makes having MAX address filtering a bit more complex, there is a support topic for this.
  • Connection to our WiFi network is sometimes a little flaky, or it could be the config in the frame.
  • The frame still requires a WiFi network to display photos
  • Configuration is still a little tempormental

Having said that I really like the new frame and the positive features outway the negatives.
Below are some photo’s I took of the unpacking process.
Opening
TheBox
Whats in the Box
Unpacked

FrameOnline

These next photos were taken as widescreen as I rebooted to see what things looked like on the frame.

Reboot

LeoWideScreenOnFrame

Job Search Affiliate according to Chris Pirillo

I am amazed at how cool job sites have become in the last few months, it seems you are not part of the in crowd unless you have a job site!  I have been wondering what the benefit is to the job seeker having to go to all of these sites to find a job.  I know the idea is not that they go there specifically but they happen to see a job while on the affiliate site, but really does it work?  For me this model only works for a couple of very high profile sites, Arrington.
Chris Pirillo (who seems to be thinking like me), provides a good run down of what is wrong with affiliate programs with his post Job Search Affiliate Programs :-

Job search / job listings are a commodity – to an extreme degree. I could plug anybody’s URL for a year and maybe eke out one new customer and make a few bucks in affiliate revenue. These things simply DO NOT WORK without a hook, and hooks do not apply if everybody’s given the same set of tools. This is one of the reasons why having an API is a great start – but don’t leave those of us without extra developer cycles hanging.

He then provides the job seeker an alternative:-

You can generate RSS job searches through a single TagJag OPML pull: http://tagjag.com/jobs/keyword/opml (obviously, you’d want to replace the word ‘keyword’ with your own search term. I think I’ve uncovered just about every job search site that outputs RSS for search queries (if I’m missing any, please let me know).

The sinking sub

Being on a sub going down would be no fun! No one wants to be stuck at the bottom of the ocean in a sub. I suspect this is how the people at PubSub are feeling right now. Bob Wyman has openly spoken about the troubles PubSub is facing (via The RSS Blog). It seems that after an internal power struggle minority shareholders are holding the company hostage.

What struck me was the openness of Bob’s post:-

What has prevented us moving forward is a battle with a group of minority shareholders, some of whom claim to be lead by our ex-CEO Salim Ismail and are, in any case, primarily his “friends and family.” This group is using very unusual clauses in our Shareholder’s agreements to block mergers or financings.

A very open conversation with his customers!

More on HR 2.0 or is it 3.0?

(Yes I know I am flogging a dead horse.)

Systematic Viewpoints has provided his opinion/views/position on HR, SOA and Web 2.0, within which he has questioned how to use RSS for an integrated worklist and poses several questions. All very important and shows a snippet of the issues/concerns that need to be resolved, I have tried to provide my personal view on each.

  1. (H)ow does it become aware of whether I’ve inherited a new task in Taleo, or the HRMS, or Oracle EBS, or 14 other integrated systems only seconds after I finished a prior one? Answer:- SSE
  2. How do I remove the alert for a completed task off the Enterprise Portal without the user having to refresh a screen for someone who gets dozens of approval messages daily? Answer:- AJAX
  3. How does RSS scale to a source system that sends out upwards of 40,000 messages a day? Answer:- BoingBoing, Feedburner, Google News
  4. How come I have to explain what RSS is to my technology partners, those who would have to maintain this when it stops working, somewhere in the world that is inevitably dinner or sleep time somewhere else? Answer:- Good question, you might need some new technology partners

Ok maybe these are not real answers but I firmly believe that we can resolve these types of issues. Check out Jeff Nolan’s post from last month for some more ideas (Via Moonwatcher Visionaries).

I found Thomas’s latest post on the discussion thought provoking and right on the money:-

Version control, accuracy, privacy, security and so on become ever more important. I think this is where MDM (master data management) will play a key role. To take advantage of the emerging technologies, more than ever you need strong, reliable and stable core system, something that provides that single source of the truth. There is a paradox in there somewhere. (you cant be trully flexible unless you have a strong backbone or something equally yogasque)

Oh boy how true, and he followed that with this gem:-

Maybe I’m wrong but I reckon a lot of niche HR software vendors will face a challenge.

They will be increasingly squashed between the “single vendor suite for core business processes” directive and the ease of mashups and business-analyst driven composites

Exactly. The quick and the dead.

Wiring the web and organisations

Following the recent posts on RSS, Web 2.0 and the impact on HR vendors I was listening to the Gillmor Gang talk with Ray Ozzie CTO of Microsoft on the Live Clipboard and it got me thinking.

Live Clipboard allows you to copy and paste structured data to and from a web site or your PC. If you are like me your immediate reaction is huh? But after thinking it through for a few minutes I started to understand what he was getting at. Take a look at the example site that has been created to show how you can copy & paste contact data with a single click. Take a look at the screencasts to get an even better understanding of what is going on. Live clipboard allows us to extend the whole concept of a mashup even further to mesh applications together.

The example that really got me excited was the publishing of contact information between sites. It also showed me that was I naive to suggest using HR-XML for ESS in a comment on Thomas’s site?  It also shows how fast things are moving. Imagine you HR/Payroll system being able to receive a feed of your contact information, no more ESS. Using a service like SKIP you could store a single version of your contact details and then publish them to all manner of services, including your company HR/Payroll system.  How does it (or should it) work with Mendocino?

Workflow was touched on briefly in the podcast. Maybe this Live Clipboard approach will provide a more open workflow framework for interoperability?  Not sure but anything is good if it allows business workflows to cross functional and organisational boundaries, workflow is the piping that holds business together.

Double Dubs has as always provided us a great perspective on the conversation:-

When we talk about self service and HR portals, what I really care about is not pushing out content, but increasing transaction volumes. Sure content is important.

I kind of see RSS, OMPL, LiveClipboard and HR-XML as providing a method of enabling these transactions.  Transactions are in some respects just content, admittedly content between systems.  Where things get a little complex is in the actual implementation.  Big companies tend to implement big systems, with big budgets and long delivery times.  How long will this process be accepted by businesses when they are seeing organisations like Flickr and Google releasing new features for consumer tools on a monthly basis?  Michael Cote asks a similar question based on a BEA analyst conference.  How easy will it be for us to implement all of these great new things?  Will there be a 2 year wait for the IT department to complete the project? Take a read of Michael Cote’s vision of LinkedIn as Platform.

So many different options and opportunities for vendors and organisations.

On a related note Ian Black, MD of SAP Australia wrote in December about composite applications, essentially the same thing.

When will HR catch onto the wave?

A few days ago (16 to be exact) Thomas Otter (a solution architect at SAP) posted on Enterprise RSS, web 2.0 and HR, he also skimmed the social web and it’s potential in the enterprise space. It is fantastic that these concepts are being picked up by more and more people.

However I kind of disagree with that the niche providers not being able to move to the new world. While the current band of niche providers may not move new entrants are more likely to get a jump on SAP and Oracle in the space. Small niche players can build and deploy point solutions to the SME market place rapidly, getting an enterprise solution based on an ERP toolset is a big undertaking. However “joe average HR” will not be ready to jump until SAP, Oracle and prodominantly Microsoft enter the market as then technologies will not have hit mainstream, this is 2 – 3 years away just look at the Gartner hype cycles.

A couple of points we need to consider when looking at HR and these new social media tools. We are moving into a world of “mashups”, where open APIs, scripts and open standards (RSS, OPML , SSE etc) are allowing people with fairly limited technical skills to create tools that we only dreamt about a few years ago. This change is going to fundamentally impact how HR delivers services to employees, employees deliver services to employers, and how employees deliver services to each other.

Let’s look at OPML to delivery training content as required, or replacing your ATS with Google. Ok neither are 100% possible today but every month we get closer to being able to create toolsets like these using a “mashup” of services from a variety of vendors. If HRIS vendors really caught on and implemented HR-XML as Chuck Allen has been talking about for the last 6 years and then made a set of open APIs things would really begin to rock. What about Google Maps integrated with job board feeds to show where jobs are located? Indeed has done something like this with their Job Trends, but lets go bigger. Or a basic performance/360 review tool built on SSE allowing managers, employees and peers to participate in the review process.

Over the last couple of years SAP has really begun to open up. The NetWeaver platform is providing companies with a great foundation for many things. SDN has examples every day on how to open up SAP and connect it to different bits of the enterprise, I have spoken before about SAP and PHP. There are talks within SDN of enterprise RSS readers and other types of tools that will enable more content sharing within the enterprise.

For a real vision of what the world holds have a read of the whitepaper pointed to by Thomas’s post.

Vendors get cracking and open your systems more.