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.

Popular posts

I had a thought over the last couple of days; “What are my most popular posts?”

About 7 years ago I installed a plug in called WP-PostViews as I cannot remember exactly when I installed it I have no solid starting point for the numbers. However it is still interesting to see what has been popular.

  1. 52 ideas on using social media within HR  – 61,258 views
  2. Social networking sites in Australia – 52,986 views
  3. Less posting here – 47,358 views
  4. Is Facebook good or bad? – 42,426 views
  5. Job Board consolidation – 35,764 views
  6. Become a recruiter for your friends – 29,455 views
  7. What generation are you – 28,153 views
  8. Internal Social Networks Analysis – 25,649 views
  9. Australian Payroll: Chris 21 – 23,783 views
  10. Jeremy Wright was fired and other notes on blogs and work – 20,242 views

The list has mainly very old posts, in years that is, and very SEO keyword friendly so I am not surprising about them being in the list. The most recent post was the one on Chris 21 back in August 2009.

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.

Reputation in the workplace

After reading a post about collaboration and recruiting from Jobscience I went to watch the TEDGlobal Video of Rachel Botsman who explores the currency that makes systems like Airbnb and Taskrabbit work: trust, influence, and what she calls “reputation capital”. To me what Rachel is talking about is really the same as Whuffie, a term coined by Cory Doctorow in Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom back in 2003, or social capital and not really something that new or revolutionary but is something very important.

The ability to transfer your reputation across different sites and services, just like Whuffie, would change the way we use new sites and services. For example I have looked a Airbnb and many property’s prefer you to have a good reputation before they will allow you to use their property, makes sense, but how does one get a reputation to start with if you can’t book a property. Enter the transferable reputation. I could transfer my eBay or LinkedIn reputation to Airbnb and immediately gain access to these properties. (Yes I know Airbnb allows you to link to these services and provides other methods but you have to start from scratch.)

Now into the workplace.

With the growth in collaborative, social enterprise software over the last few years now means many of us have (or will) built up internal reputations, earned badges, become experts inside our own organisations. This reputation in a collaborative organisation can help you get promoted, onto new projects become the go to person on topics etc. (Not to mention many people just like getting badges for the sake of badges, the whole gamification thing.)

But when you leave the organisation what happens to all of this reputation? Nothing. You join a new organisation and you start from the beginning again. Just like in the consumer world it would be great to be able transfer the reputation gained on these internally focused tools to your new organisation.

Again many in new organisations will review your Linkedin profile and other publicly available sources but still all that effort in your last organisation is basically lost.

Plans for 2013

Just a short update and a small reflection.

At this stage nothing set in stone, still talking to a few people and looking at the jobs on offer.

My review of next steps has me looking in two different directions both equally interesting; IT project management ideally in HR Technology (either vendor or customer) or advise and consulting most likely with a vendor or consulting firm. Both options interest me and I think allow my skills to be used to add value to an organisation.

I have applied for a number of jobs and while none have been a 100% match to my skill set I have been interested in the deafening silence from recruiters. The ATS talks to me on application but to date not a single follow up either automated or personal. Not surprise by this as the roles are not a 100% match, however I had expected something. The general application process has been fairly painless each time but a few thoughts:

  • Cover letters, I really hate not knowing who I am addressing the cover letter. This anonymous recruiter ends up with “Sir or Madam” which just does not feel right, nor is it personal which is my style.
  • Cover letters take the most time in the application process I think they are very important as they allow you to highlight how your skills can meet specific requirements outlined in the job ad.
  • Many job ads are uninspiring and some even turned me off applying because they seems so dull. Now this could be a good thing as if the ad reflects the culture of the organisation, there is a self selection process taking place. This is bad if the ad reflects the recruiter’s culture and not that of their client’s as I suspect on a few occasions.
  • Job ads still have typos and many I find lack sufficient detail to work out what the role does other than generic “manage projects”.
  • Some job ads have so stringent must haves I wonder if there are candidates out there to match.
  • The actual application process has tended to be 50% through the job boards own tool and 50% through the advertiser’s ATS.
  • Employers seem to use their ATS for direct applications, recruiters the job boards tools.
  • Only a few ATS’s have asked me to write “War and Peace” or answer many questions.

I suspect in the next few weeks I will find a role and will certainly update once it is set in stone.

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.

The glass is full with Google Glass

One of the coolest inventions of 2012 is Google Glass, a wearable computer, running Android, that looks like a set of regular glasses that includes a video camera and augmented reality head-up display unit.

Sergey_Brin_Glass

Wearers of the glasses interact with them using natural language input while connected to the Internet. The best way to describe how they work is through a short video Google released called Project Glass: One day…

Yes the obvious functions of this type of device are to mimic today’s smartphones and go towards creating a world as shown in Apple’s Knowledge Navigator video from 1987!

Now back to how Augmented Reality fits with HR and management. What could be done in the workplace with such devices?

Steve Boese covered a few of the options late last year to gain access to real-time information during the work day:

Candidate Interviews – Feedback from references, instant assessment of candidate body language and verbal cues, real-time fact-checking for candidate job history – what wouldn’t these AR glasses be useful for in interviews?

Performance Management Discussions – Context is everything in these discussions. Wouldn’t it be cool to have a ‘live feed’ of the last 3 months of peer comments scrolling by as you chat with an employee about their need to be more of a ‘team player.’

Talent Planning Sessions – it would be cool to see the updated and real-time financial performance of each unit for the execs under discussion just as the CEO is advocating for one of their golfing buddies for a plum assignment or promotion

I see the ability to have access to real-time information at points in time when it is needed is as the “killer app” for the devices to go from hype into being a productive part of the workplace. I also see great potential for these devices, away from the office worker.

  • Safety: The glasses could alert workers to unsafe practices like moving too close to a edge or in mining that a colleague is on the other side of a tunnel before drilling or laying explosives.
  • Real-time information: In a hospital setting have nurses and doctors be able to get live updates on how their patients are doing. As they approach the bed side of the patient the relevant information is displayed on the screen no longer requiring them to flip through a chart. The wearable device removes some of the big issues with technology by the bedside; portability, obstruction, safety and infection control. Wear a device like Glass is no different than wearing regular glasses.
  • Quality control: Glass could use the video feed to take photos to complete with specifications to ensure products are being manufactured at the right quality levels.
  • Stock taking: Instead of manually counting stock Glass could count for the wearer.

The list goes on.

With this type of device also comes great questions and obstacles for employers. How do we protect the privacy of our employees? While we are seeing BYOD starting to make their way into the enterprise how will CIO’s react to bringing your own Glasses to the workplace? How do we stop the devices being used for time and motion studies?

How long till we see these devices in the “real” world, not long. Mashable reports that Google is starting to provide developers access to Glass through a “Glass Foundry” in San Francisco and New York to begin working with the APIs and have allowed developers to pre-order the Explorer Editions for $1,500 to be shipped sometime during 2013.

MySpace is Back and Different

Yes you read that right. MySpace is back, new, improved and very different.

Mashable have a very good round up of the new MySpace service with the opening paragraph summing up how I felt after using the service for the first hour:

The new MySpace is pretty. It incorporates many of the trends in modern web design and social media — big visuals, responsive design, easy discovery — and gives them a clear focus: connecting through music. And it really works.

The new MySpace is all about Music, and it makes finding existing artists and new artists very very easy. The fully integrate audio player, constantly located at the bottom of the screen, allow you to continue to listen while exploring further. My only gripe is at times the site is a little confusing to navigate and you end up accidentally playing music you did not intend.

Finally I really liked the 404 Page Not Found page:

We’re sorry, we can’t find the page you’re looking for. But what we can do is offer you this special mix of tunes with running time of exactly 4:04. Just click on the album covers, or one of the links below, and enjoy.

If you are into music go check it out.