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    Wednesday
    Aug162017

    Three quick takes on the LinkedIn - hiQ Labs news

    First the news in case you missed this yesterday.

    From our pals at Fortune:

    A U.S. federal judge on Monday ruled that Microsoft's LinkedIn unit cannot prevent a startup from accessing public profile data, in a test of how much control a social media site can wield over information its users have deemed to be public.

    U.S. District Judge Edward Chen in San Francisco granted a preliminary injunction request brought by hiQ Labs, and ordered LinkedIn to remove within 24 hours any technology preventing hiQ from accessing public profiles.

    And a little bit on the back story, in case you had not been following this case over the last few months:

    The dispute between the two tech companies has been going on since May, when LinkedIn issued a letter to hiQ Labs instructing the startup to stop scraping data from its service.

    HiQ Labs responded by filing a suit against LinkedIn in June, alleging that the Microsoft-owned social network was in violation of antitrust laws. HiQ Labs uses the LinkedIn data to build algorithms capable of predicting employee behaviors, such as when they might quit.

    Got all that?

    Seems pretty simple, but at the same time the ulitmate outcome of this case (LinkedIn will almost certainly appeal this ruling) could be pretty important not just for LinkedIn and hiQ Labs, but also for you and me and everyone else who's data/profiles are at the core of this case.

    Three quick takes from me since it's my blog...

    1. While we are all pretty aware and comfortable with the social network concept of 'You are not the user, you are the product', most of us have continued to rationalize this away as it pertains to our usage and participation on sites like LinkedIn and Facebook. If we get enough utility and value from being a member of LinkedIn, (networking, job opportunities, sales leads, etc.), then we are ok with LinkedIn building their business around selling access to and ways to interact with our profile data. But even if we are ok with LinkedIn earning revenue in this way, are we as comfortable with a third party like hiQ doing much the same? When you and I signed up for LinkedIn, I don't recall any T&C that asked if that would be ok? I personally get value from LinkedIn. I doubt the same can be said for hiQ.

    2. hiQ's business seems to be about aggregating and analyzing public LinkedIn profile data and then building out a set of tools that can help organizations make predictions about potential turnover. They are making a pretty big assumption that the 'right' amount of people have up-to-date, accurate, and meaningful profiles. And I think that is a pretty big assumption. I had to look up about 5 people on LinkedIn today, and two of them I am 100% don't have their current job title listed correctly. And these are the kinds of folks that use LinkedIn pretty regularly.

    3. And despite the above caveat about the completeness and accuracy of user profiles, it is indeed true that LinkedIn (courtesy of all of us), do possess an incredible amount of workforce data. Companies, jobs, career progression, contacts, etc. All good and important stuff. But you know who else possesses an even more accurate and more detailed data set about workforces, compensation, job moves, career paths, mobility andmore? Your current HR Tech provider(s), that is who. The bigger cloud HR providers, (ADP, Oracle, Ultimate, SAP, Workday, Infor, and more), all have incredibly detailed data sets on people. Where thry work, how much they earn, where they went to school, how their careers have evolved, etc. And these providers are all taking positive and aggressive steps to create valuable tools and insights from these large data sets. Plus, I would gather that while the data in your HRMS might not be 100% perfect, it is likely closer to the truth than the stuff on the average LinkedIn profile. If you haven't yet, talk to your HR tech provider about what they are doing to create new tools to help you that are based on the knowledge that can be gleaned from millions of data points in the cloud.

    I will keep an eye on the LinkedIn - hiQ case to see how it develops, but if nothing else it has served as a semi-occasional reminder that once it is on the internet, data flows like water. And you probably can't hold it back forever.

    Happy Wednesday.

    Monday
    Aug142017

    Webinar: Choose the Future: Five Important HR Tech Conference Themes

    Quick announcement of a FREE webinar I will be doing this Wednesday, August 16 at 2PM ET to discuss some current and important HR Technology Trends, and to do a bit of preview of the upcoming HR Technology Conference.

     

    You can read the abstract of the webinar below, and you can sign up for the webinar HERE

    Choose the Future: HR Tech 2017 and the Five Most Important HR Tech Trends HR Leaders Need to Know

    As we developed the program for the 20th Annual HR Technology Conference scheduled for October 10 -13, 2017 in Las Vegas several important HR Tech trends rose to the surface. The HR Tech Conference has always been about the future - of the workplace, human resources, and the ways people interact with technology, colleagues and their organizations overall. For many organizations, if not most, these varied futures will be greatly influenced by technology. It could be essential for core HR and workforce management tools, new tech that allows leaders to better understand the engagement and sentiment of the employees, or highly analytical technologies that can actually “predict” the future itself, as well as many others. These are the technologies and the stories that we will bring to the forefront at HR Tech this October and the ones that will help HR leaders navigate what can seem at times to be challenging futures ahead.

    In this webinar, HR Tech Program Chair Steve Boese (me) will share the five most important HR tech trends that will be prominently featured at the Conference in October, provide examples of how these trends are manifesting in HR technology solutions today, and preview the upcoming Conference to enable you to make the most of your HR Tech experience.

    Sign up for the webinar HERE and be sure to tweet your thoughts and comments using hashtag #HRTechConf.

    Thanks and hope to 'see' lots of you on Wednesday!

    Thursday
    Aug102017

    PODCAST: #HRHappyHour 292 - Shaping and Improving Company Culture

    HR Happy Hour 292 - Shaping and Improving Company Culture

    Host: Steve Boese

    Guest: David Sturt, EVP, OC Tanner

    Recorded live at OC Tanner's Influence Greatness Conference in Snowbird, Utah

    Listen HERE

    This week on the HR Happy Hour Show, Steve was live at the OC Tanner Influence Greatness Conference with guest David Sturt who talked about how companies can intentionally shape and improve company culture. David shared insights from OC Tanner research on company culture, the key facets or elements that tend to describe, drive, and influence culture, and how organizations and leaders can leverage these insights into practical and actionable changes to improve their own cultures.

    We also talked a little about how cultures are formed, Steve shoehorned in his favorite Rock-Paper-Scissors analogy, and David shared news of the annoucement of a new partnership between OC Tanner and HR Happy Hour Show sponsor Virgin Pulse, which was really exciting for us at the HR Happy Hour Show.

    You can listen to the show on the show page HERE or by using the widget player below:

    Thanks as always to Virgin Pulse, www.virginpulse.com and to OC Tanner for having the HR Happy Hour at the Influence Greatness event.

    Check out David's new book 'Appreciate: Celebrating People, Inspiring Greatness' which was just released today. 

    Finally, remember to subscribe to the HR Happy Hour on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, and wherever you get your podcasts.

    Tuesday
    Aug082017

    The fine line between unpopular and unemployable

    Apologies for the not fully formed thoughts to follow as I am putting this down in the Delta Sky Club in MSP, (a pretty nice airport to make the East Coast - West Coast stopover in I think).

    Like you probably have as well, I spent a little time the last few days following the news about the Google employee's (now former employee's) saga from the leak and subsequent publishing of his paper? article? manifesto? regarding diversity and inclusion at Google, the subsequent internet and internal to Google reactions, the Google leadership reactions, and which has culminated, (for the time being), in said Google employees firing from the company. I am not linking to pieces about these developments, there are now 19025 pieces out there on this, and I am pretty sure you know the story as it sits.

    You might also be familiar with the ongoing saga of another famous unemployed person, aspiring NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who despite seemingly possessing all the requisite experience and physical ability to be a valuable player on several NFL teams, (including my beloved New York Jets who plan on using at quarterback a couple of guys only slightly more qualified than me), remains an unsigned free agent with only about one month to go before the NFL regular season is set to begin. 

    Kaepernick, as I am pretty sure you know, made headlines last season by demonstrating, (apologies if this is not the best word), his advocacy for a number of social issues by 'taking a knee' during the playing of the national anthem prior to his NFL games last season. This form of demonstration later was joined by numerous other players in the league, expanded to some other sports, and generally created tons of news and awareness beyond the sports world. Chances are, unless you are at the stadium, you never cared about the pre-game national anthem, (in fact for 'normal' games the anthem is rarely televised), until Kaepernick began taking a knee.

    What connects these two unemployed but talented people, the former Google engineer and Kaepernick, together today seems to me to be two things. One, they are both currently out of work. And two, the primary, (arguable) reason that they are both out of work has little to do with their ability, skills, experience to do the job that they would like to do, but has more to do with things that they think and beliefs they hold that for wildly different reasons, are seen as pretty unpopular with various constituencies that are important to their professions.

    I am not going to dig in to the merits or validity or appropriateness of either person's statements and actions. As I said there are thousands of places you can get that if you care to. But what I am interested in is what these cases say or suggest about the kinds of things can can get you fired, (or keep you from getting hired). We've known for a decade or so now, since the advent of the social media age, that posting or saying terrible, racist, discriminatory, even pornographic things online can and does get people fired. 

    But both of these cases, again, this is certainly debatable, don't seem to fall into that kind of territory. At least to me, they might both be controversial, might go against the majority of thinking in their respective fields, but don't seem to, on their surface, rise to the level of 'Fire this person immediately' or 'Hire other, less qualified people instead of this person' territory. Debatable for sure, I admit. Clearly the CEO of Google and about 30 NFL owners have a different take.

    Two more quick thoughts then I have to catch a plane.

    One, the kinds of people that tend to agree with/support the Google engineer and the ones who support Kaepernick are probably, (many of them anyway), on complete opposite ideological poles on lots and lots of issues. Said differently, the kinds of views that get you run out of one employer and would be embraced at another are almost entirely situational and pretty subjective.

    And two, the line between unpopular and unemployable is thin, keeps moving all the time, and is set (usually) by folks who never, ever, ever, want to deal with this kind of stuff. Once something, anything, consumes energy and resources that are supposed to used generating revenue/income, that line moves to 'unemployable' really quickly.

    I am still thinking about this, I hope you are too. Maybe we can do a HR Happy Hour Show on this and get some feedback from listeners and readers.

    Monday
    Aug072017

    A quick reminder that your employer probably won't help you stay employable

    The belief that employees have to own their own development, career planning, and future employability, and that no employer can truly invest/care that much about its employees in the modern world to do those things is not a new one. I am pretty sure I heard it from an employer myself back in the 90s.

    But while the idea of employees being (more or less) solely responsible for ongoing development and learning, and as in the case with most jobs now, keeping up with and remaining/becoming proficient in the latest and most relevant new technologies is generally accepted these days, it isn't often that we see senior execs of big companies going on record stating this as a fact or condition of employment. No, usually C-suiters like to talk about 'people being our most important asset' and like to tout investments in employee learning and development and other ways they portend to be a 'people' organization.

    That disconnect between what leaders of large companies like to say, and the generally accepted premise that all employees, even 'permanent' employees, are just temps that get a few more benefits, was really crystallized for us all by the (kind of surprisingly), frank comments on employee development attributed to Dell and VMWare CIO Bask Iyer, in a recent interview and as reported in the Economic Times of India

    Check these comments then a quick comment of my own...

    Bask Iyer, CIO and Executive Vice-President of Dell and VMware, has sounded a warning for information technology (IT) employees: surf the oncoming technology waves all the time and upskill yourself, otherwise be prepared to leave IT. 

    "I am making sure that all my IT folks are best equipped to generate revenues rather than lay them off. People without the skill-sets to go ahead to the next level in a company will go anyway, that’s just the way it is," Iyer said in an interview to

    Iyer said the onus for upskilling lies with the employees themselves and not the organisations. "As for reskilling, no organisation provides for that because even they don’t know what to train employees on," he said. The IT employees themselves must figure out the future and upgrade their skills accordingly, Iyer said.

    Pretty frank, and seemingly honest observations from a tech leader at one of the world's most well-known tech companies. Iyer tries to couch or position his comments less as 'the organization won't make sure your skills are up to date because it is solely your responsibility as an employee to do that' and more of a 'we as an organization just can't predict what skills will be needed, and therefore are unable to train our staff to remain relevant and current.'

    But that is kind of a cop-out as well as probably not being 100% honest if you dig in a little.

    If the CIO of Dell claims that he and the rest of Dell's leadership can't predict what skills will be needed, then truly what is the reasonable expectation that the average software engineer or designer at Dell would be able to make that call him or herself?

    And wouldn't it be reasonable for that software engineer at Dell to think that the technical and business leadership at Dell (or insert any company name here), would in fact be able to have that kind of foresight and strategy, and be able to help develop workforce plans and associated technical skills and competencies needed with at least some advance warning?

    My guess is this - Dell probably has some idea of where they want to go in the next few years, but since no one can really be sure what technologies will dominate and be needed outside of a year or so, they want to hedge and offload at least some of their responsibility to their employees.

    I will wrap with this last comment. If we, all of us, are all truly temporary workers, (we are), then we need to break down lots more assumptions - legal, regulatory, social, ethical, of what it means to be an employee anywhere. I am kind of glad to see the frank comments from Iyer about employee development. He finally said what lots of us have been thinking for a long time.

    Have a great week!