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    « Carnival Time | Main | Notes from a Revolution »

    The HRevolution - One Vendor's Perspective

    NOTE : This guest post is from Wendy Tandon, Director of Product Strategy for Human Resources technology vendor Salary.com.  Wendy (@WTandon on Twitter), was an attendee of the HRevolution conference this past weekend in Louisville, KY and has agreed to share her perspectives on the event here.




    As mentioned in the intro to HRevolution I began my career in HR, and am now happily working to define technology products for HR and the Enterprise.  I’ve not been plugged in to the HR online community for long and am truly amazed at the welcome I’ve received from this group.  My second thoughts as I boarded the plane for Louisville wondering why on earth I would fly to a strange city on a weekend to meet with people I didn’t know were immediately squelched as I found intriguing conversation at every turn.  My experience in Louisville was colored by my unique past, my current role, as well as by some books I happened to be reading during the travel and downtime.  The first books “City of Ember and “People of Sparks” (yes, they’re children’s books I read and then discuss with my son) and a third “Influence – The Psychology of Persuasion” as recommended by many of you on Twitter.  


    The children’s stories are about finding a way out of a dark and dying place, then the conflict that ensues once they find their way – “Influence,” about human behavior and compliance.  All great commentary about why we interact with other people they way we do.  I reflected on how technology has evolved from an isolating experience in the 80’s into the collaborative experience it is today, and how the power of these connections has transformational characteristics.  We may indeed be finding our way out of a darker more isolated place – but we still have much to discover, and I anticipate some conflict as we find our way.  HR and technology are both evolving rapidly, but evolution shouldn’t imply smooth or easy – there will be bumps in the road, especially at this pace.


    What else did I discover this weekend?

    1)    Social media – the mere name bequeathed to these tools frightens and alienates many.  Technologists must address this. 

    2)    The actual percentage of HR pros that are “plugged in” is quite small – we must determine how to best reach out to those who don’t know what they are missing in a non-threatening way.

    3)    I’m secretly relieved they are not all plugged in because there must be some upper limit to the number of people one can follow effectively.   See #4

    4)    The sheer volume of information available in this medium can be overwhelming and requires we use effective shortcuts to figure out what to use/discard/save for later.  Opportunity for technologists.

    5)    The shortcuts we are conditioned to use every day to direct our behavior in a socially acceptable way are magnified by the larger network of interactions we can sustain in a virtual environment.  Opportunity for tremendous influence by those who would effectively use it. 


    What do I predict?


    HR seems to have not ruminated at great length about how to quantify or capture the value associated with their employees’ external networks outside of recruitment efforts.  The vendor and analyst community will offer suggestions but we need HR to validate them.  What will HR do to create internal networks as they recognize the enormous value in this kind of communication?  My bet is that most will be willing to wait for HRM vendors to deliver a plug and play solution for this since many are still struggling against perceptions from CEOs or others with organizational influence that view social technology as “disturbing” and as something that would result in a lack of control (despite the obvious reasons this is backwards thinking). Those HR pros on the leading edge will create their own using whatever (mostly free) technology they can quickly deploy with likely mixed results.  It will be interesting to analyze what works, what doesn’t and why.


    What advice do I have?


    As a former HR practitioner, I watch the analyst/vendor dynamic with interest (admittedly self interest) and curiosity, yet sprinkled with just a smidgeon of caution.  I’m not a cynic at heart, but am I the only one who occasionally wonders if an element of these relationships might serve something other than the intrepid consumer? Call me crazy. [mad tapping of keys as analysts block me on twitter] At HRevolution it was asked if HR pulls the vendors or if HR is being pushed by them.  When the market-gurus of my own org demand certain functionality for our products I consistently counter with, “Well, it’s cool, but does HR really want it? Will they use it??”  I have vowed to be the advocate for HR when it comes to my own influence on product roadmap – I simply can’t get the HR out of me.  But in response to the question of push vs. pull, itreally is “both.”  We need each other.  HR should be and in many cases is pushing vendors to deliver quality, easy to use products that address legitimate use cases (think business case).  HR vendors should be clever enough to see the trends in these varied use cases, and then deliver a product that can solve business problems HR might not have been able to recognize or analyze were it not for the technology.  Demand simplicity from your vendors – not more re-branding of old ideas to make the same software appear to do something it never did before without any corresponding change in code.  Talk to your vendors – the good ones are eager to listen.  More importantly, if you aren’t talking to us, we end up listening to no one but the analysts, and as much as we DO love them, well, let’s just say balance is a good thing.


    One final thought:


    I am encouraged, energized, and excited to be working in this rapidly changing space.  The organizers and attendees of HRevolution have assured me that our efforts are NOT in vain.  I am much obliged to all of you and will strive to give back, both personally and professionally, at every available opportunity.  To all the torchbearers of leading edge HR, and you know who you are, you are truly an inspiration!


    Wendy Tandon – Director of Product Management, Salary.com



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    Reader Comments (7)

    Wendy, it was wonderful meeting you this weekend. Your points are spot-on, and I think your perspective is a valuable one, seeing as how you haven't been active in the social media space for very long.

    I know Steve poached you for this guest post, but I would be happy to have you any time you'd like. :-)

    November 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBen Eubanks

    Great points here and to Mark Stelzner's point, I am also glad not every HR person is on social media. We would no longer be unique. I will leave you with this thought--there is already a social media internal platform solution called Ning. It can be used for internal or external communications and can be built quite and customized quite easily. It also offers a lot of great features for knowledge capture and for employees to get engaged.

    Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR

    November 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJessica Miller-Merrell

    Wendy, your firm is a recent licensee of my HRM Business Model "Starter Kit" in which a worker's (could be an employee or a vendor employee/contingent worker) professional networks as well as their effectiveness at networking are modeled as KSAOCs where either or both are relevant to doing the work at hand. The "Starter Kit" includes many use cases in support of modeling these concepts which you may find useful. I'll look forward to your views on this aspect of the "Starter Kit."

    November 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNaomi Bloom

    Wendy, thanks for writing a thought provoking article. Were at a very interesting time when HR, business management and technology are coming together through necessity rather than desire I suspect. The problem is that they will not know what they want until they see it working somewhere and then everyone will play catchup. The only way for technologists to go is to innovate and simplify. The technology is not there yet, but I get the feeling that the solution is only just around the corner.

    November 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJerry Lowe

    Wendy, you offer a great perspective. The different perspectives in KY was one thing so valuable about the conference. Welcome to the social media space!

    November 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLisa Rosendahl

    I'm grateful for the comments and encouraging words - so thanks to all. I am slightly startled by my sudden motivation to be better informed, more well read, and most importantly to not be just more "noise" as a result of absorbing all that social technology has to offer. I don't want to waste my time, and am acutely senstive to wasting the time of others. Naomi, I am actively reconciling your work with my own research and experiences and would be honored to share my opinions. Stay tuned to more thoughts on that. My committment from HRevolution is to contribute, not distract.

    November 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterWendy Tandon

    Wendy - you definitely made a wonderful contribution both at the event, and with this post, and I am sure this is just the beginning. Thanks for the insights and opinions, and until you have your own blog, you are welcome to guest post here anytime.

    November 11, 2009 | Registered CommenterSteve

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