Social Recruiting and an experiment

Last week I was meeting with Riges Younan and Jeremy Samuel from 2Vouch to discuss Riges’s presentation for Australiasian Talent Conference in Auckland, topic being “The Evolution of Social Recruiting”. To develop the presentation Riges wanted feedback from the recruiting community on their thoughts, ideas and case studies. To quote Riges:

I need your help to shape, contribute and assist in the creation of this presentation.  I’ll be posting ways in which we can work together to create something that will assist many HR, Recruiters and Jobseekers around the world.

To facilitate the process Riges wanted a blog and a wiki to collect the content and discuss the ideas. So http://socialrecruiting.com has been set up. If you have anything to say on social recruiting or recruiting in general go register and contribute, the rest of this post will be be about how I built the site.

When thinking about what tool to use to build the wiki I was very concerned that many wiki tools still use a Wiki-markup style, while basic can put a lot of people off contributing. We wanted the barrier for use to be low.

The blog was to be in WordPress 2.7, I did a bit of searching and found a wiki plugin from Instinct. While only recently released it had all of the features I needed to get the site going  quickly. I needed to modify the code a bit to fix some of the bugs, I also updated the security components along with the theme to adjust how pages were edited. Once users register they can edit any pages through the WordPress administration dashboard. This way we leveraged the power features of WordPress as a blogging platform and also its very easy to use user interface for the wiki component. Security has been adjusted so all users can create and edit and page, upload images and video, create but not publish blog posts.

Some additional plugs have been used to add collaborative features including Add to Any, Collapsing Pages, GD Start Rating, and SlideShare.

Yes there are other tools I could have used but not for only 10 hours work across two days.

I would be very interested to hear any thoughts.

Microsoft Tag a not so new tool for marketing

Last week Microsoft launched a new service/tool/technology called Microsoft Tag. In simple terms it allows you to take a photo of an image with your internet-enabled phone and the related content is displayed on your phone. Very similar technology to the QR Code. But implemented very differently.

The QR Code stores all of the data in the image, for example the QR Code below actually stores the data of the URL for Inspecht. So when you take a photo of the image using your phone, the data is processed on the phone and then you are redirected to the Inspecht web site.

QR Code Inspecht

Microsoft’s tag service does not store the data in the image. Instead after taking a photo of the image the Microsoft Tag application on your phone communicates, via the Internet, with the Microsoft servers to figure out what to do next. The image is based on technology our of Microsoft Research called High Capcity Colour Barcode or HCCB for short. Microsoft has released reader applications for many different phones, head to http://gettag.mobi to find out more.

Microsoft Tag Inspecht

Both provide very similar functionality.

Pros

  • Microsoft Tag allows you to create much smaller images than QR Codes
  • Microsoft Tag has significant in built error correction for partial or blurry images
  • Microsoft Tag is reportable a better user experience, personally I am not sure about that as I have found QR Codes very easy to use
  • Microsoft Tag makes it easy to get a reader application on your phone, I had to search to find a QR Code reader for my Treo
  • Microsoft Tags can be set to expire after a certain period, great for marketing
  • Based on my limited testing it seems you can change the data (URL, vCard etc) that the tag points to without needing to change the tag image
  • Microsoft Tag is support by the Microsoft marketing machine

Cons

  • Microsoft Tag requires full colour over QR Codes minimum requirement of black and white.
  • Microsoft Tag requires an Internet connection to work
  • Microsoft Tag requires Microsoft to store all of the data about the code and resulting data
  • Microsoft Tag is proprietary and after the beta period you will likely charged for using the service
  • QR Codes are very popular in Asia and have growing support in other locations, such as Australia

From a mobile recruiting point of view there is not a lot of difference. However the dynamic time driven content of the tag service makes the Microsoft offering a better choice for job ads or career fairs. For example here is a tag to a Seek job ad that will expire on 11th Feb 2009.

Seek Ad Tag

In Australia Telstra has been pushing QR Codes, under their own brand Telstra Mobile Codes marketed to only work on the Telstra Next G phone, which of course is not true as they are standard QR Codes. It will be interesting to see if Telstra drop the QR Code for Microsoft Tag.

Update: Anothy from Aussie startup QMCodes mentioned in the comments that the pro’s are all covered by their existing service Q-Lytics http://m.qmcodes.com/qlytics good to see a local company ahead of the big players.

Workforce development in public and private sector

A couple of weeks ago Kate Carruthers spoke to me about workforce development programs, the results are an article she published on the NSW TAFE eZine web site, under the heading of “Workforce development: Case studies in private and public sector implementation“.

Workforce development is a key issue for both private and public sector businesses.  Previously a fragmented approach to the elements comprising workforce development led to lack of integration and inability to align the workforce to current and future business demands.

We spoke for about an hour on the move to strategic HR assessments, the Kirkpatrick model, that organisations should focus more on head content than on head count, recent Taleo research, the CedarCrestone HR Systems Survey and a global IBM survey all relating to Talent Management. Overall a great discussion and the resulting article is a good read.

Cloud/Grid/Utility Computing what is it & must you have it?

Today I want to discuss the latest hype in the HR technology space, Cloud/Grid/Utility Computing. Now the terms utility computing and grid computing have been around for a while now, however cloud computing is areasonable new term.

First up they are not the same thing! They can be related but they are not the same.

Let me start with utility computing. According to Wikipedia the first real reference of utility computing goes back to 1961!

If computers of the kind I have advocated become the computers of the future, then computing may someday be organized as a public utility just as the telephone system is a public utility… The computer utility could become the basis of a new and important industry. – John McCarthy, MIT Centennial in 1961

So utility computing is:
  • Pre-packaged resources
  • Low or no initial cost for hardware
  • Typically rented
  • Rapid growth of capacity
  • Always on like electricity or water

Grid computing on the other hand is completely different:

  • Applying the resources of many computers in a network to a single problem at the same time
  • A form of distributed computing
  • Usually based on open standards
  • High levels of reliability

Finally we get to cloud computing, again from Wikipedia we get this quote:

According to a 2008  paper published by IEEE Internet Computing “Cloud Computing is a paradigm in which information is permanently stored in servers on the Internet and cached temporarily on clients that include desktops, entertainment centers, table computers, notebooks, wall computers, handhelds, sensors, monitors, etc.”

So attributes of cloud computing are:

  • Customer do not own the infrastructure
  • Access is usually based on rental
  • Can be based on the utilitiy model
  • Delivered as a service with data stored in the cloud

Now this is very confusing as how do all these terms different from “Software as a Service” (SaaS) or Application Service Provider (ASP) models for software delivery?

I see things in a rather simple fashion. To some degree ASP has become SaaS with some addtional features, which is now moving towardds cloud computing but not always as there are other pieces to cloud computing. All can be done with a grid or utility model again not always. Now some technology architects will disagree with this simplified model but I feel it works.

Marketing folks will repackaging existing tools to use the new buzz words. For example Taleo back in September at Taleo World annouced “The Talent Grid, built on Taleo’s on-demand application platform, will deliver the infrastructure and resources to power organizations’ future talent needs”. Based on the press release it is not a grid computing model but using the name gives the average person the wrong sort of messages. They are certainly moving towards a cloud model but if they are not really doing grid are they really doing cloud or is it just marketing? To be honest I have not seen the details of all their products so I cannot answer the question.

I would suggest Taleo are not doing cloud 100%. Why? Review these 15 items by James Governor from MonkChips to get the general idea, some are a bit tongue in cheek but should give you a starting point.

If you peel back the label and its says “Grid” or “OGSA” underneath… its not a cloud.

If you need to send a 40 page requirements document to the vendor then… it is not cloud.

If you can’t buy it on your personal credit card… it is not a cloud

If they are trying to sell you hardware… its not a cloud.

If there is no API… its not a cloud.

If you need to rearchitect your systems for it… Its not a cloud.

If it takes more than ten minutes to provision… its not a cloud.

If you can’t deprovision in less than ten minutes… its not a cloud.

If you know where the machines are… its not a cloud.

If there is a consultant in the room… its not a cloud.

If you need to specify the number of machines you want upfront… its not a cloud.

If it only runs one operating system… its not a cloud.

If you can’t connect to it from your own machine… its not a cloud.

If you need to install software to use it… its not a cloud.

If you own all the hardware… its not a cloud.

Am I wrong? Thoughts, comments?

Year End != Performance Management

Today I was catching up on some of my feeds and noticed many of the major HR technology related blogs I follow were discussing performance management, for example Jason, Meg, Justin and, it even gets a mention on Thomas’s blog. So I felt I would get in on the game.

So let’s start at the beginning, what is performance management?

an approach to help the individuals within the organisation focus on what needs to be done to help the organisation meet its overall goals

(Paraphrased from the Performance Management unit in the AHRI Professional Diploma)

There are lots of models and method for doing performance management but as Jason says in his post:

Performance management should be about making, supporting and visualizing decisions for all levels of management that drive corporate performance.  It should cater to every talent stakeholder and answer the question that are important to them such as…

  • Managers – How do I reward and penalize individuals and teams based on performance?
  • Directors – How do I analyze and compare the performance of my team against other departments and divisions within my company?
  • VPs – How can I model my group against other high-performing regions, geographies, roles and skills to drive my company’s performance?

It is not about giving a rank to an individual based on the last X number of months work. Taking this further Justin brings up four good summary point:

1.  We believe in the concept and vision of daily performance management

2.  We believe in a future-facing performance management environment.  

3.  We believe in open lines of communication between the manager and the employee

4.  We believe in customised and relevant content in the performance evaluation

I have to say I agree with what everyone has said, and that your technology enabling performance management needs to be more that just filling in an apprisal form online!

Even more so if we assume that a vast majority of workers are now knowledge workers. Knowledge works is by it’s very nature ambiguous, complex and tends to have long feedback cycles (you don’t press a button to see a result), where employees tend to work autonomously but require collaboration with others both internally and externally to get the job done. Add to this that the outcomes tend to be more important than the process followed. (I know there is a whole core competency discussion here as well.)

So really the performance management process needs to be about supporting or facilitating the performance ahead of time not looking back. This of course needs to be part of the broader succession, development, learning, and workforce planning process. And it is not just an end of year thing!

Once the right process is being used we can then add the technology!

Halo HP’s Telepresence Solution

Yesterday I attended a media event, as a blogger, for the Australian launch of HP’s Halo Telepresence product. The event was simultaneously held at HP’s office in Sydney and Melbourne using HP’s Halo product and included a Halo hook up to the US and audio hook up to HP’s PR company.

Down to the product:

  • It is telepresence, nothing really new here
  • HP has built a nice control panel to make using the service very user friendly
  • Halo allows both laptop sharing and a tabletop camera for the sharing of physical objects
  • It allows you to include non Halo endpoints from suppliers such as TANDBERG and Polycom
  • They have a gateway to also include endpoints that support ITU H.323, H.320 and SIP
  • A majority of the devices in each room have IP addresses assigned which means they can be maintained remotely
  • All Halo rooms have access to Halo’s 7×24 Concierge service for support.

Where the product is a little different from other systems is in the installation. HP have built Halo to be a fully managed solution, from installation to deployment and operations. All Halo rooms are connected to each other via the Halo Video Exchange Network (HVEN) a specialised fibre optic network run by HP just for Halo, HP install a 45Mbit (also called a DS3/T3) link into your premise. This enables several benefits such as reliability, bandwidth availability and cross company collaboration.

Like many I have experienced old school video conferencing before with all the issues of latency, crappy images, and crap audio. Halo, like all telepresence solutions, is none of that. The Halo meeting rooms is purpose built panelled in light brown fabric (to enhance audio), with half the room taken up with a board room table. In front were three 42″+ HD screens, at table level, with a fourth screen above for control.

On the three table height screens were the other meeting participants, almost life size and disturbingly really. The audio quality was fantastic, you heard all of the subtle noises from the other rooms, just as if the people were in the same room as you.

HP Halo

HP’s sales approach is, to reduce travel, increase productivity and support the environment, in fact the theme for yesterday’s launch was the environment with several presentations covering all the things HP is doing to be green.

My thoughts?

This is not for small business with the basic solutions starting well over A$100K not including the monthly managed service charges.  Having said that for large enterprises any product that improves productivity or reduces costs is a bonus, especially in these tough times. HP claim to be cutting up to 20,000 trips during 2008 just due to having Halo installed globally and that ROI is achieved by most customers within 12 months.

The almost real life nature of telepresence allows for significantly more interactive meetings then are possible over pure audio or older style video link ups. However given the price tag maybe virtual worlds are a better choice for many organisations who want collaboration?

Oracle Social CRM Part Two

I started this post yesterday but was interrupted by meetings and personal life, so now back to my discussion with Oracle on their Social CRM offerings.

I said the tools were limited in functionality, but let me explain in more detail. They are NOT limited in functionality within the firewall, but external user generated content is not something that seems to be in the current products. Yes you can use your favourite social network to background check potential customers. I can understand some of the reasons behind this but the options should still have been incorporated.

The products have a nifty looking UI, some of which is modelled on what looks like Apple’s iTunes. For example the Sales Library product allows user to flick through presentations by tag or to search traditionally. If you like a slide drag it to your area, then continue browsing. Once you have all of the slides you want, download and Sales Library creates a brand new powerpoint chart pack based on your selected slides. You now make your own changes and then upload the revised product for others to use. A great tool for building those sales presentations.  What is missing is linkages to tools like SlideShare to bring in user generated content.

The linkage with social networking tools of your choice allow you to complete detailed research on your existing and potential customers. for example if you are selling a new eLearning system, go find out which sports team the learning manager supports, what their favourite hobbies are, where they went to school. 

The tools have a fantastic integration with the iPhone allowing seamless integration with the CRM products. Which for example if you make a phone call to a CRM contact, automatically updates the CRM from the iPhone handset over the air that the call was made. The CRM tool provides a nice interface showing appointments, tasks and contact all over the air from your CRM on Demand product. Just wait, get lost on your way to see a client, a single click on the CRM contact on your iPhone and you have the Google map appearing showing the location.

A final thought I know more a more companies who are using traditional CRM tools as part of the recruitment process to manage the relationship with candidates. The additions into the Oracle product line make this application even more compelling.

Slight service interruption

Over the last few days service on this site and several of my other sites has been less than perfect, downright poor for some of them. This has been due to several related factors. Firstly the performance of my previous hosting provider MD Webhosting and secondly the unavoidable service interruptions while moving hosting providers. I am now on a VPS environment provided by SliceHost.

I will not go into the details of the issue I had with MD WebHosting, let’s just say I would not recommend them to anyone.

Things should start to settle down as I get everything fully sorted. I appologise to people who have been impacted by these issues.

 

Startup Camp Melbourne wrap up

Last weekend was Startup Camp Melbourne, an action packed event I participated in full of drama and success.

The idea of bringing unknown people together to learn about creating startups is a fantastic idea that we need more of in Australia. I know we have several incubators and a sort of venture capital industry but, we don’t have many technology startups unless they are funded by family and friends.

Now the weekend.

We kicked off at 6pm Friday night over at kisla Interactive Studios with the arrival of 20 people, most having never met, let alone worked together. In fact from what I could work out only 2 people (Jason & Matt) had in fact worked together before the weekend.

I was in the green team with Steve Hopkins, Duncan Riley‘George’ ProvoostJason BrownleePieter Peach and John Sherwood. I have socialised several times with Duncan but have never worked with him. I have met Steve socially once for coffee and at an MTUB, I had also met George & Pieter at two different Jelly’s. I would say I knew very little about anyone of them, especially not their strengths, or weaknesses.

Others have posted (here, here, here, here, here, here, and here) on the process of what went on so I won’t go into it in too much detail, just touch on some of my key thoughts.

The Good

  • The whole experience of being thrown into a room with 20 people you had never worked with and expected to create something by the end of the weekend.
  • The collaboration process to create ideas and workout what was worthwhile and what was less than fantastic :-).
  • The food & location.
  • Learning new technology & tools. Being a lowly hack, to be able to spend an intense period of time with expert developers and business folk was a buzz.
  • Helping organise the event.
  • Finally the process of having to think through the aspects of starting up a business was a great experience, Duncan summarises it very clearly:

Two and a bit days to come up with an idea for a startup, then to deliver it, complete with prototype, business plan and pitch may be (and was) an intense experience, but it challenged every participant. For developers, it focused their attention on results, and took away the luxury of time. For those in marketing or the broader business side, it forced decision making and hard decisions without the luxury of broader testing. Everything from the logo, site design and the usability/ needs case, through to financials and final pitch.

The Bad

  • Having slept a total of 10 hours in the 48 hours before arriving on Friday night.
  • Still being sick when I arrived. I had spent Monday & Wednesday in bed, and seriously considered not attending the weekend.
  • Expectations. I’m not sure we clearly communicated the expectations of the weekend to everyone, which caused a bit of confusion during the weekend. That was probably caused by Maxim and myself not really understanding what the expectations were either.
  • Having to work 42 hours straight to get everything done.
  • Our team made a serious error in judgement on Friday night, the technology platform. We didn’t have a common technology within the team. This resulted in us “losing” 8 hours of productivity while we changed direction and having to build our final prototype in a 14 hour long mad dash through the night.
  • Having to build a site using a technology platform I had never seen until that point in time, Ruby on rails
  • The VC feedback. My feeling was he was negative about what was being done, had no concept of technology and possibly what it takes to build a technology startup (I have not been able to find details on the types of companies he has invested in so I am not 100% sure). My feelings could be as I felt like complete crap during the final few hours having surviving on diet of sugar, Codral and caffeine (4 coffees, 2 redbulls, 3 V & 2 cokes) for the last 38 odd hours.
  • While having the VC arrive on Sunday afternoon to provide feedback to the teams was good I think we missed a major opportunity. If he had addressed the whole group for a few minutes about what should be included in a VC pitch then I suspect most teams would have done a better job. Telling us he wanted no more than 15 minutes per team after 2 hours of presentations was a bit of a waste for everyone.

The Ugly

  • My PC. I tried to install XAMPP on my PC as I was having URL rewrite issues with IIS. During the process version 4 of MySQL was installed over my existing MySQL 5 environment, this was after I had asked the install process not to install MySQL! The result basically put my PC out of action for almost 10 hours as I fought getting XAMPP up and running, only to have to remove it all and install Instant Rails when we moved to Ruby on Rails.
  • Following the change of technology platforms we needed to find somewhere to host the application. This meant a change of hosting environments, after John had spent several hours getting it going.
  • Once we changed hosting environments the domain name was re-delegated. The result we made too many changes to DNS records over a 6 hour period and the internet decided our domain was stuffed. By 8am Sunday morning with the original domain still not working we activated a backup domain so we had something to demonstrate.
  • Having a VC sit with you for 20 minutes and not telling you what they expected from a presentation and then hammering the presenters for not delivering on his expectations.
  • Me on Monday morning after the event.

Final Thoughts

  • More preparation is critical. The teams really need to be created around similar technologies, hosting should be worked out ahead of time, along with SVN access etc.
  • Look at having a pre-event briefing session the week before so everyone comes prepared for the weekend.
  • Less focus on external marketing of projects launching and more focus on building up genuine interest in the projects. This way you manage expectations of the outsiders and don’t over sell what is happening. A rule of business always under promise and over deliver.
  • I feel if the whole group came together a few more times to ensure everyone knew what was going on would have ensured common understand as to what was going on.
  • I feel due to my technology issues and being sick I was not able to add a full level of effort to the team.

One last thing. One of the ideas for these events is to bring together the startup community within Australia. Which is why I think the comments on Tech Nation are a bit counter productive.

And how does SUCM compare to Sydney Startup Camp 1?

Call me biased but I think all 3 startups in Sydney were better conceived, better executed and were far readier for launch by the actual launch time which, mind you, was 12 hours less than in Melbourne 🙂

Now not to get in to a war of words with the Tech Nation boys, it was not 12 hours less, code freeze and formal launches in Sydney were 1 hour earlier than Melbourne. Oh let’s not forget we have the change to daylight savings time during the weekend, so we lost an hour of work.

 

Startup Camp Melbourne

Today, Friday 3rd October, sees Startup Camp Melbourne kick off from 6pm running until about 6pm Sunday. During this time 20 or so would be entrepreneurs will spend almost every minute working to create several new business ideas.

The basic agenda for the weekend will be:

Friday 3rd October
6pm Arrival & networking
7pm Dinner & team assignments
8pm Idea generation begins
11pm Evening Close

Saturday 4th October – The real work begins!
10.30am Teams arrive & continue work
12.30pm Working Lunch
6pm Dinner
8pm Teams pitch their businesses & site frameworks
10pm Startup Camp PR launch to build interest for site launches

Sunday 5th October – Launch day
7am Teams arrive
7.30am Breakfast
10am Code freeze
12pm Sites launch
12.30pm Lunch & Press Release launch
1pm Teams decide go forward plans
2pm Teams begin developing investor pitches
3pm Teams pitch to real investors go forward plans
4pm Party!
5pm Go home & sleep

I am looking forward to participating in one of the teams and see what comes out of the weekend, I suspect not the next Google but you never know…