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    Talent Management and Google

    This announcement from August got by me, but I think it is interesting and worth noting.  SuccessFactors markets a suite of Talent Management applications ranging from Performance Management, to Compensation Management, to Employee Development.  They announced a new integration with Google Talk to enable real-time chat via the Google platform as well as Google Calendar to leverage a centralized scheduler as well as Google docs and Google Maps. See a screen print below of a Google Chat dialog embedded in a SuccessFactors dashboard.

    The interesting thing to me is how a mainstream, entrenched Talent Management platform is opening up to the Google platform, recognizing that many employees are either already using these Google services, or that organizations are starting to encourage the blurring of the internal vs. cloud services.

    Another benefit of a platform like SuccessFactors opening up to Google, is the relative ease embedding these Google services in other applications like wikis and blogs.  So a workgroup or organization could set up a shared Google calendar once, and leverage the same calendar in their talent system (SuccessFactors), their internal wiki and perhaps their blogs or other web sites. 

    I love to use wiki technology (especially PbWiki) for this ability, and I think it is likely that more and more internally focused applciations will begin to support this simple interoperabiltiy.



    Class - Please Introduce yourselves

    Every class usually starts with a classic, 'Let's go around the room and have everyone introduce themselves and tell a little about yourself' kind of exercise.  These are pretty standard, sometimes a bit dull.  In a class that is offered completely online, these introductions take the form of forum discussion posts, that have to be read one after another and can be very flat and non-illuminating. 

    But how about viewing the content of a series of student intoductions like this:

    Class Intro Word cloud

    This is a 'word cloud', generated by a cool service called Wordle, that helps illuminate and give some life to a series of introductory posts.  What kind of class do we have, based on the word cloud?

    I think tools like these can help give some perspective and help you look at raw text data in a new way.


    We interrupt our regularly scheduled blogging

    I was planning my next post to be on the simplest conference call scheduling tool out there, Rondee, that small companies can utilize to set up quick, free conference calls.  But since I foolishly left the files with all my Rondee screen prints on my work PC and did not upload them to Box, I have to switch gears.

    Tonight I attended my first class session in Facilitation Skills, and the single thing that stood out to me the most, was the challenges and difficulties for some of the foreign students, and for the hearing-impaired students.  Much of this class centers around effective faciliation of meetings and group activities, and I can't even begin to imagine the extra burden these students have to overcome.  In addition to mastering the content, they still may have to struggle with the basic elements of spoken English communication.

    And I am reminded of an activity I ran in my last class session of the HR Technology class that I teach.  I had all the students register in Second Life, and we had sort of a 'company' meeting in the virtual RIT Island.  It went fairly well, one or two students never did get fully 'alive' in SL, but most did and I think we had a good learning experience.

    But what struck me about the Second Life meeting the most, was that one of my students who was hearing impaired absolutely came to life in the Second Life meeting.  She was the most active, positive and generally the best participant. I have to think that was at least in part due to the normal obstacles or barriers she has to face every day were eliminated in Second Life.  In our meeting, all communcation was text chat, it did not matter that she was hearing impaired.  The technology levelled the field for her and suddenly she really showcased her talent .

    I got into this HR Technology stuff never realizing the power and capability of new technologies to really make a difference to people, but more than ever I believe that the right technologies can be truly transformative.


    Simple group chat

    Looking for a really simple and inexpensive group chat solution to allow your employees, contractors, consultants, and even customers to share information and interact in real time?  Then check out a product from 37signals called Campfire.

    Campfire is a web-based group chat tool that allows multiple people to chat, like in a normal IM session.  But the real strength of Campfire is that chat participants can upload and share files, images, and all users can access the uploaded content in real-time.  Transcripts for the chat sessions are saved and can be reviewed later.

    Campfire is ridiculously easy to use, and the pricing plans start at $12/month to support up to 12 simultaneous chatters.  There is even a free plan that allows 4 people to use Campfire at the same time, (with a smaller file size upload limitation).

    I have used Campfire to quickly organize group brainstorming sessions, especially ones in which the contents of a document needed to be discussed.  It is a great tool, and you should check it out if trying to get teams working together more efficiently.


    Corporate IM in 5 minutes

    For a time there was quite a bit of debate about the merits of instant messaging in the workplace. Many managers and executives viewed IM as a distraction and a tool that needed to be kept off the desktops and browsers of their staffs.  But over time, and as more workers already familiar with IM began entering the workforce, the IM walls began to come down.

    For many job roles, the ability to ask quick questions and get immediate replies proved so beneficial, that even the most stodgy, traditional environments relented to the employee's desire for IM tools.  Many employees simply started using their personal IM accounts (usually AOL Instant Messenger) and started making connections via IM with their most utilized contacts. 

    Of course AOL is not the only popular IM service, competing offerings from Microsoft and Yahoo also have their share of users. Bringing all these disparate IM accounts together under one application proved to be important (particularly for the corporate user) so services like Trillian were developed.  The Trillian application lets users log in to multiple IM services through one interface, and simplifies contact and buddy list management.

    But there could still be a barrier to the use of corporate IM, that is IT departments.  Initially, these IM services all required a small application to be downloaded and installed on each individual PC.  Many organizations restrict the end user's ability to install any programs on their computers, thus requiring IT involvement and sometimes permission. So many potential corporate users of IM were essentially shut out. In time, Yahoo, Microsoft, and AOL did roll out web-based versions of their IM clients, but for many, the initial struggle with downloading clients ended their IM initiatives.

    Enter web-based IM services.  There are many competitors in this area, but my favorite and the best one is Meebo. Meebo lets you sign in to multiple IM services (AOL, MSN, Yahoo, Google), all from one unified Meebo account.  It is entirely web-based so it requires no IT involvement, and works from any place you can connect to the Internet.  Meebo even has the ability to create group chat rooms, and chat windows that you can embed on your corporate website, intranet, or wiki.

    Best of all is the price - free!  If you are in a small to medium size organization looking to take a very small step into collaborative technology, then have your employees create Meebo accounts, create a few chat rooms and try some Im-ing. The benefits your staff will realize from the 'instant' nature of the communucation and feedback will impress you.

    In the next post I will take a look at a more robust platform for corporate chat, Campfire from 37signals.