Mobility and HR

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Source: Flickr user smemon

Be it mobile phones or tablets Australians love our mobile devices with 76% of us having a Smartphone and almost 40% of us now have tablet devices, however only 50% of these with non-wifi communication capability limiting the remainder to use in cafes and other public wifi locations.

The 8th Australian Mobile Phone Lifestyle Index goes on to look at the types of activities Australians are undertaking on their phones; excluding voice and SMS. The growth rates for the period 2010 to 2012 of these non-traditional activities are fairly substantial:

  • Send and receive emails – 25%
  • To get information – 21%
  • For entertainment – 15%
  • To visit websites, and/or search or browse the internet – 20%
  • For banking, including transfers and bill payments – 19%
  • To buy things online – 16%

The survey also reveals that “approximately 40% of respondents use their mobile phone to compare prices online and to look at product or service reviews before making a purchase decision.” This implies that consumer facing organisations that do not have a mobile optimised web site could be suffering when consumers are making purchasing decisions. From personally experience will I often double check information and prices while in the store before making the final decision so I am not surprised 40% of users are doing the same.

With a majority of Australian’s now actively use mobile versions of web sites and downloadable apps how are we doing from a HR perspective in leveraging mobility?

Not very well.

Of the top 20 listed companies in Australia only 3 had any form of mobile optimised career or job search site. The rest directed mobile job search traffic to their traditional ATS which assumes the candidate is on a desktop device and able to complete the extended application process including the uploading of a resume. A handful of organisations have mobile sites which automatically redirect users when a mobile browser is detected, unfortunately other then Wesfarmers the user then needs to navigate to the main site to find career information.

Company Mobile Careers/Jobs
AMP No
ANZ No, only banking site
BHP Billiton No
Brambles No
CBA No, only banking site
CSL No
Macquaire Group No
NAB No, only banking site
Newcrest Yes once you reach the job search
Origin No, but do have a mobile site
QBE No
Rio Tinto No
Santos No
Suncorp Yes once you reach the job search
Telstra No, but do have a mobile site
Westpac No, but do have a mobile site
Westfield No
Wesfarmers Yes a mobile site that integrates some careers information but not a job specific job site
Woolworths No, but do have a mobile site
Woodside Petroleum No

Is this an issue?

Yes. Primarily because we are seeing a growth in the usage of mobile devices in the workplace. The Telstye 2012 report “Digital Workplace: The fast pace of business change” found that 43% of Australian organisations are allowing the practice of “Bring Your Own Device”, which allows employees to connect their own devices to the corporate network, and 28% allow some form of “Bring Your Own Application”, using non-corporate IT applications on your devices, resulting in more employees undertaking workplace tasks using mobile devices. According to the report’s author Rodney Gedda, the number of applications people can use in a work environment growing due to the increased use of cloud based offerings.

As more business processes become accessible via mobile devices employees are going to expect HR processes to be accessible on mobile devices. Recruitment tends to be the first process to “embrace” new technology and this lack of “mobile aware” careers and job sites indicates that HR is behind in being able to offer mobile solutions to the workforce.

UPDATE – 23 Jan 2013

I just spent a few hours with Simon Cariss Senior Vice President – Innovation at PageUp People, looking at a number of their new product offerings. We got discussing mobile and how limit usage it has at the moment. A majority of the sites that had mobile job offerings were in fact based on their platform, a fact I left out of the post as it was not a review of products.

We then discussed the Suncorp site as they do have a mobile optimized Career’s site, the issue is if you visit Suncorp directly via your browser you are sent to the banking home page and then have to navigate through a non-mobile optimized site. However if you search for Suncorp via Google there is a link directly to their Careers landing page in the Google search results allowing you to experience their mobile offerings. Another interesting fact is Suncorp do not have an Apply Now button on the mobile jobs site (a configuration feature clients control), instead they are using PageUp’s email feature to allow the job seeker to email the job directly to themselves to deal with at a later date. As soon as the job seeker completes this step the recruiter has their email address and then follow up if no application is received.

A final update PageUp People have a very interesting tool that is a practical use case for Big Data, more on that later.

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.

Search Update

A bit of an update.

Yes the networks do work, got a few interesting leads and a couple of meetings to follow up to see where things might go.

In addition I have been reviewing my resume and looking at what I enjoy doing as a step to determine the right sort of role and organisation for me in 2013.

The first part of this process is very hard I hate writing my own resume, I can look at other peoples and give advice but my own is much harder! As part of this I have actually considered getting some professional help on it, mostly to see if it improves my chances of landing a cool job. I would definitely do it if I could conduct some A/B type testing on the same job and see which (if either) got interviews. But as a preparation step I have uploaded my current resume to my blog, still need get a link on the front page and update LinkedIn most likely over the weekend.

The second part is trying to decide what type of role and organisation I want to work for. As part of this process I remembered a post I wrote a few years ago about a tool, CMy People, to help to long term unemployed get back into the workforce, while not long term unemployed I figured reviewing it would be a good idea. As part of the feedback process I was very lucky to have Kevin Chandler from Chandler Macleod give me the feedback a very amazing experience still to this day.

So what job can I do? In general he stated I was intellectual and could basically do any job I wanted as long as it held my interest. To determine the best job Kevin reviewed my key interests from a list of key words, based on these I have a 98% fit for a Web Development type role. While he felt I could do any role there were a few he indicated I would not be as good at as others: General Manager, CEO, Magistrate or Medical Scientist. Finally my personality is one of a high degree of self control.

Now those that know me well would probably laugh at me being a “real” developer but I feel the context of a development type role is fairly true. I like the process of creation and seeing a substantial end result, a primary reason for my interest in project style work and probably a reason I have changed roles (not necessarily companies) every 2 years. However a part of the review of the role the key portion that rang true to me was the comment, “as long as it held my interest”.  This means a project style role that was not within my interests area probably would not work.

These thoughts provide additional weight to my idea that going back to project management/pre-sales for a software vendor, into a consulting firm, or part of project management team inside an organisation would be the best idea. Now to just sort out my resume to match these types of roles and start on a list of employers.

The search

As I mentioned earlier I have been busy, I still am but now looking at my next steps and that will most likely result in some employment arrangement within an organisation. I have just started this journey but I do need to find something for March 2013.

I have spent a little time looking over my LinkedIn contacts and a few quick searches on jobs boards, reached out to a couple of contacts and even contacted a recruiter or two. Already a few of things have jumped out at me:

  • Most recruiters have not changed, while I have only had contact with a limited selection but I believe not much has changed. That is sad.
  • Seek is still top.
  • There a “truck loads” of IT jobs. (Most are not me.)
  • There are very little strategic HR Technology roles (I have had job alerts in place for 4 years and no change).
  • I have no idea what type of organisation I want to join.
  • I have several ideas on what type of role I would like, but given my background they vary from software pre-sales to HCM consulting to IT management.

An idea occurred to me today. I might document my process of finding employment in 2013. It might be interesting. It also could be boring, also it might not be a new idea (it probably isn’t, well I know it isn’t but Ellison has some ideas about what she wanted).

What I do think will be interesting is I have a five thousand followers on Twitter, close to 700 LinkedIn connections, a blog (this one) that at one point had over 25K unique visitors a month, I have spoken many times in the last 5 year, run conferences and traveled the world combining HR and technology.

So it should not be that hard to find something that will excite me. Or will it?

4 years on some thoughts

I was have a chat with an old colleague this afternoon and we were discussing where social media has gone in the last few years, specifically around recruitment.

Which got me thinking. You know where has social media gone? This then took me back in time to some of the crazy ideas I had about what one could achieve with social media, specifically inside the enterprise.

About 4 years ago I published a list of 52 Social Media ideas for HR, at the time I had not seen a single consolidated list of ideas documenting the various ways these tools could help transform an organisation and its business practices. Now some of the ideas (and sites mentioned) are not relevant or the benefit just not lived up to the hype. However other ideas, actually more the philosophy of the idea, I firmly believe are still important to engagement of your current and future employees.

For example allowing your employees to engage in frank, open, constructive discussions internally, leveraging your workforce for referrals, focusing on “headcontent” not headcount, are all still as relevant as they were 4 years ago and I suspect will be relevant in 5-10 more years.

I am interested and if I find the time I might start a research project to find examples of all 52 ideas to see if anyone actually implemented any of these “crazy” ideas! I  know some organisations have implemented similar concepts as I discussed which is not surprising as most people floating around the social media circles at the time would have come to the same conclusions.

But these are just my thoughts, you might disagree, let me know especially if your organisation has implemented a similar idea.

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.

ATC Social Media Presentation

Here is my presentation from the ATC Social Media event. My main messages that I hope people took away were:

  • Using social media for marketing is ok, but engagement and community is better
  • Engagement and community is harder than just a Twitter account or Facebook
  • Social Media is not easy, nor is it free
  • True engagement with social media is about people conversing with people, not brands servicing people
  • CFO’s like to talk about dollars

What is next…

I have been pondering the future.

What is next? Do you know? If so please do tell.

A number of years ago I pondered what was next from blogging and podcasting, neither of these forms have really survived in the way the were circa 2005/2006. Let alone what happened to MySpace, Friendster, Orkut…

Let’s look at the user base of popular social networking sites in 2005 .(Of note the term social media was not really in our vocabulary then. In fact social media was called “new media” we knew it was new but just what was it?)

MySpace 26.7 Million
Facebook 11.1 Million
Xanga.com 7.9 Million
Bebo.com 1.5 Million
Friendster 1.5 Million
Tribe Networks 515K
LinkedIn 354K
Orkut.com 83K

So not many of the sites in the above list really play a part in Social Media 2011, so where does this leave us?

I have no idea. Yet.

Well personally I want to find the 2005/2006 version of Twitter/Facebook in 2011/2012 and see what it will do to society in five years time.

Social media and the elephant in the room

Once again a longtime between drinks, however this post might start to demonstrate why.

For many months I have felt that something is not right in the world of social media. The problem was I have not been able to put my finger on the issue.

I happened to read a post over at Social Media Today that might help to shed some light on the issue. To sum the post up in a few words – we have lost the social in social media.

Ernest Barbaric discusses how the Human Factor in Social Media has disappeared:

Go to almost any brand’s twitter account and you’ll see exactly what most marketers get wrong. There is little more then business updates. No conversation, no relationship building, no questions being asked or answered. Just another “blast post”, a sad remnant of traditional one-way thinking.

Very sad really.

Maybe I am just a cranky old man, but please go read Cluetrain Manifesto and maybe I will start to enjoy what you put out on the Internet again.

Sourcing in Australia

A growth area for both agency recruiters and internal functions is that of sourcing and over the last few years the availability of tools to source candidates have changed dramatically. A decade ago to undertake the sourcing of a hard to find candidate involved a lots of phone calls and a really good contact list. While in 2011 the same holds true the internet has provided sourcers with a massive database of potential candidates. The rise of search engines and social media may have made us lose our memory but they have also given rise to the role of the internet sourcer.

Usage of boolean search, LinkedIn and other social media sites have made it easier than ever to proactively find candidates. For many of you this will not come as a surprise.

What might be of interest is a small conference I am speaking at in August, Finders Keepers, put on by my friends at ATC. Finders Keepers will have several international speakers in attendance, in fact the speakers list reads like a Who’s Who of sourcers; with internationals such as Glen Cathey (Boolean BlackBelt), Jim Stoud, Kevin Wheeler, Bill Boorman, and locals Ross Clennett, Martin Warren, and Andrea Mitchell. I will be doing a half day workshop with Jim Stoud looking at “How to Find the Hidden Talent Your Competition Overlooked”.

While the act of building a half day workshop with someone from the other side of the world is interesting enough, I suspect trying to keep up with Jim will be the hardest part of the session. If you have no idea who Jim is, watch the video below and you will see what I mean.

If you are interested in sourcing and where it is at in Australia get along and attend.