Since I believe I am the only 'Technology' person on the Board, I think it makes sense for me to look at the request from that angle, and try to uncover the primary trend or trends that impacted workforce technology in 2009.
I think the primary trend that affected HR and workplace technology in 2009 is the growing importance of so-called 'social' technologies in the workplace, and in enterprise systems. This trend has manifested itself in several ways in 2009.
Recruiting has gone social
In 2009, we saw the emergence in a major way of the idea of 'social recruiting', a relationship-based, high-touch, and heavily technology dependent approach to recruiting. Social recruiting, which some argue is really no different that traditional and successful recruiting, has substantion technology components, and for HR folks, a basic understanding of these tools is really necessary to effect a successful social recruiting strategy.
The Applicant Tracking Systems (and related recruiting technologies) that got the most buzz in 2009 were JobVite and Jobs2Web, two solutions that at the center of their value proposition is there embedded integration with external social networks, and the ability of organizations to leverage the personal networks of employees and candidates to support the organizational recruiting process. And towards the end of the year, we have seen several posts advocating empowering the entire organization to support social recruiting, largely via the careful leveraging of technology and networks.
Employees are Networking
Growth for the 'big three' social networking sites, (Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter) continued relentlessly in 2009. Most organizations and HR departments finally realized in 2009 that social networking was a significant societal and workplace trend, and began to confront and address the appropriate relationship between the organization and the employee use of these networks.
Whether the response was defining a corporate social media policy, upping your efforts to actively block employee use of social networks, or actively seeking ways to leverage these networks and employee connections on them the topic was on the radar of most all HR departments in 2009. HR's response to this trend has varied of course, but it has become almost impossible to ignore.
Enterprise Systems getting more social
Later in 2009, a fairly steady stream of announcements from classic HR Technology enterprise vendors touted either integration with external social networks and services, or the inclusion of Facebook or Twitter-like 'feed' functionality inside their systems. Learning Management Systems integrating with Facebook, performance systems linking with Google, or core HRIS connecting to LinkedIn, there were examples of all of these in 2009, and I think it is just the start of an emerging aspect of the overall 'social' trend in HR Technology.
Other vendors moved to incorporate concepts from the popular external 'status feeds' to help illuminate HR processes, a great example is the Activity Tracker from Talent Management systems vendor Halogen Software. The merging/blending/mashup of process with social interaction and communication inside of traditional enterprise technologies is one of the most important developments in 2009.
Innovation, collaboration, connection
In 2009 a slew of tools and technologies that support employee collaboration, information discovery, and internal expertise location were either released or enhanced. From wikis like Socialtext and PBWorks, activity stream platforms like Socialcast, or more robust internal networking technologies like Cubetree or Jive Social Business Software, it seemed that almost every week in 2009 saw a new product or some new capability added to an existing product. This week, Salesforce.com, the leading provider of enterprise SaaS solutions for Customer Relationship Management (CRM) announced the upcoming 2010 release of Chatter, an internal employee networking application that will allow employees make status updates similar to Facebook and Twitter.
HR professionals that really want to have input and impact into the future design and implementation of collaborative computing and the continuing 'socialization' of work need to start spending more time understanding how collaboration is and needs to work in their business, and then must be able to intelligently assess and recommend the appropriate technology to support those objectives.
A look ahead
I think in 2010, we will certainly see more of this trend, and it will likely manifest itself in new and perhaps surprising ways. Before the end of the year, I will take a shot at some more detailed projections.
What do you think, what was the big news in HR Tech in 2009? Notice I did not even mention Oracle Fusion, as I decided an announcement and a short demo in 2009 really does not count as a 'trend'.
Hit me up in the comments.