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    Friday
    Jun202014

    Three data points that should tell us something about how things are changing

    For a 'please can this week be over yet?' Friday, here are three unrelated pieces of news/information from the last few days that individually are interesting, and taken collectively should make us think about where the next few years are heading in technology. First, here are the three stories for your consideration:

    League of Legends is now a college sport - and one University is offering scholarships for its team (Venture Beat)

    Robert Morris University of Chicago is now accepting applications for its first competitive League of Legends season. Associate athletic director Kurt Melcher said the university is also looking to hire a coach.

    Competitive League of Legends is a remarkably successful enterprise. E-sports racked up an astounding 2.4 billion viewer hours last year, with this online strategy game being the most-watched game of the bunch. This has brought a multitude of advertisers and sponsors to the table. League of Legends also made $624 million dollars in microtransactions last year and has over 70 million monthly players.

    RMU is looking to fill around 18 or 19 player spots. Eight or nine players will be a part of the varsity team, but the college is also looking to field two full (five man) practice squads. The university is offering scholarships that will pay up to 50 percent tuition and 50 percent room and board, which Melcher said is valued at around $19,000.

    Yo Now Has Over 200,000 Users - 140,000 More Than It Had Yesterday (Business Insider)

    You might still be figuring out what you think about Yo, the app that only lets you send "Yo" notifications to your friends, but the app is taking off.

    Yo just announced that the app has surpassed the 200,000 user threshold.

    Yo has also broken into the Top 50 free apps on Apple's App Store, surpassing even Facebook's new Slingshot app. It's currently #24.

    The Best and Worst: Media Habits of the Class of 2014 (Niche)

    This year’s high school graduating class is part of a coveted demographic for tech companies. In a survey of 7,000 Class of 2014 Niche users, students ranked 50 popular apps and websites based on frequency of usage.

    (Chart)

    Steve here - really interesting data points I think. Video games and gamers are getting more and more mainstream each day, the hottest App in the Apple App Store has a single function, sending the word 'Yo' as a notification to one of your contacts, and the oldest Gen Z (or whatever we call them), has no time for anything that exists primarily as a website or a web-based destination. With Yo, and the data from teen tech usage, we see that attention spans for individual tasks are getting still shorter, (if that was possible). But the video game trends remind us that for the right experience, you can capture attention for long, long periods of time. And those experiences are changing.

    I think it is important if you consider yourself a student of people and technology, (what the best HR tech folks should be), to at least keep aware of these kinds of developments as they arise, and before they turn into full-blown trends. If you are still writing and reading stories about how 'Mobile is going to be big' or 'Social media is important for HR', you're really late to the party. In fact, that party is over, it ended in 2010 or so.

    This weekend you should spend 10 minutes thinking about what, if anything, 'Yo' means for you in HR and for your workplace tech in the future.

    Or just send me a 'Yo'.

    Have a great weekend!

    Thursday
    Jun192014

    WEBINAR: HR Moneyball: How to get started with Big Data for HR

    You have heard the hype: Big Data is taking over the business world, and HR’s going to be expected to make decisions—not through feelings, relationships or gut instinct—but via numbers.  The problem is… your HRIS, ATS and Performance Solutions are all different systems and weren’t built with the big-data revolution in mind. In short, you feel less than ready for workforce analytics—you’re just trying to get the basic reports generated.

    We feel your pain, people. That’s why I am glad to participate in the June installment of the Fistful of Talent FREE webinar series with a jam titled, HR Moneyball:  The FOT Bootstrapper Guide To Getting Started With Big Data. Join Kris Dunn and I Data nerdfor this webinar on Thursday, June 26 at 2pm EST(sponsored by ThoughtSpot, a cool business intelligence startup), and we’ll share the following goodies with you:

    A brief review of where HR stands with Business Intelligence (BI)/Big Data. We’ll cover some of the trends, what the bleeding edge is doing, the 3 types of data sources available to HR shops and what the CEOs and business leaders you support are asking for related to data and BI out of the HR Function. We’ll also talk about what your options are when HR is the last priority for an over-burdened IT function.

    Why HR pros need to shift/lean forward. It’s not what happened, it’s what going to happen. Getting your head around business intelligence and data means you have to shift your focus from reporting the past and move to predictive analytics. We’ll give you examples of great reporting decks from the HR Hall of Fame and tell you how they have to change to meet the call from predictive analytics out of your HR shop.

    - The Five Best HR Plays for Business Intelligence (BI) and Big Data. Since we’re all about helping you win, we wouldn’t do this webinar without giving you some great ideas for where to start with a data play out of your shop. You’re going to stop reporting turnover and start predicting it. You’re going to stop reporting time to fill and start showing which hiring managers are great at—you guessed it—hiring.  We’ll give you five great ideas and show you how to get started piecing the story together.

    - A primer on what’s next once you start channeling Nostradamus. Since you specialize in people, you naturally understand the move to using Business Intelligence (BI)/Big Data that helps you predict the future is only half the battle—you have to have a plan once the predictions are made. We’ll help you understand the natural applications for using your business-intelligence data as both a hammer and a hug—to get people who need to change moving, and to embrace those that truly want your help as a partner.

    You’re a quality HR pro who knows how to get things done. Join KD and I on Thursday, June 26 at 2pm EST for HR Moneyball: The FOT Bootstrapper Guide To Getting Started With Big Data and we’ll help you understand how to deploy Moneyball principles in HR that allow you to use predictive Big Data to position yourself as the expert you are.  

    Hope you can join us on June 26 at 2PM EST.

    Tuesday
    Jun172014

    NEEDED: The universal "Out of the Office" notifier

    I took a day off yesterday (a real day off, not that fake kind of half working/half not working but still checking email every hour kind of day).

    And since I am conscientious, I activated the requisite "Out of the Office" auto-responder on both my corporate email account, as well as on my Gmail account (where I do have lots of 'official' work-related correspondence going on as well). My OOO message basically said I was offline and if you had an 'urgent' matter that needed immediate attention to text me, otherwise I would get back to you as and when I could.

    For the most part, the strategy was successful - I did of course get a bunch of emails to both email accounts that my OOO auto-responder handled. Three people saw the OOO message and did indeed decide their issue was 'urgent' and elected to text me during the course of the day. Putting aside the fact that in the work that I do nothing is truly ever 'urgent' in strictest terms (no life or death decisions, etc.), let's just say that I had a slightly different take on the relative urgency of the items that were texted to me yesterday. But that's fine, I offered that up as a way to get in touch with me even when I was out, so it is really my bad if I truly did not want to be contacted all day.

    But what I didn't have a good way to address were the other 4 or 5 ways people seem to like to try and contact me these days. LinkedIn messages, @ messages and Direct Messages on Twitter - heck someone even sent me a Facebook message that was work-related. Aside - please do not send me a Facebook message about work. That is terrible. 

    I even got pinged with a message informing me I had a voicemail left on Google Voice. I did not even realize I had Google Voice.

    What I really wanted yesterday is a kind of universal, covering all potential ways of getting a message to me, "Out of the Office" auto-responder. So no matter if it was an email, a Tweet, even a random Google Voice (still can't figure out how that happened), anyone trying to contact me would have been informed that at least for one day, I was probably not getting back to them.

    Unless they sent me an urgent text. Then I guess I would have to. Even if it wasn't urgent.

    Have a great day!

    Monday
    Jun162014

    Could you pass this question from the Chinese version of the SAT?

    Pretty interesting story from over the weekend at Business Insider on the lenghts that some test-takers will go to try and get an edge, i.e., cheat, on the test in China that is largely equivalent, (except it seems even more important), to the United States SATs.

    The piece, titled Chinese Teens Have Found Remarkable High-Tech Ways To Cheat On Tests, focuses on some of the 'creative' ways that test takers are attempting to use in order to better their chances of passing this hugely important test. While creative and high-tech cheating is always kind of interesting, I thought the most interesting bit of detail in the story was this translation of one of the tests' essay questions. Take a look at this question, then ponder just how you might take a shot at answering.

    "You can choose your own road and method to make it across the desert, which means you are free; you have no choice but finding a way to make it across the desert, which makes you not free.Choose your own angle and title to write an article that is not less than 800 words."

    A totally fair question, right? And much better than the ones that seemed to dominate the SATs for years. Things like "Crumb is to bread as BLANK is to pencil", or some such nonsense.

    But having to drop, in a high-pressure set of conditions, 800+ words on freewill, choice, deserts, roads, and sorting out just exactly what is it that the testers are looking for in your answer seems ridiculously tough to me. Plus, remember these are 18, 19 year old kids trying to figure this out.

    Where would you do with that question? 

    You are free but also not free. 

    Probably, just a little maybe, the way you feel on a summer Monday morning, settling in to a job that you could both walk away from and are chained to at the same time.

    Happy Monday.

    Friday
    Jun132014

    How far would you commute each day for your dream job?

    How far would you be willing to commute, (to keep it simple let's assume we are talking about commuting via driving your personal car), in order to work at your dream company/job?

    I have to admit it is not a question I have personally thought about very much these last few years as my 'commute', if you could call it that, has typically been taking a short flight of stairs to my lower-level office/lair/Fortress of Solitude.  But lots of folks, heck still the large majority I think, are making the pretty much daily grind to an office, store, warehouse or whatnot. Despite how much we like to talk about the nature and practice of work and workplaces changing, for most of us 'work' remains a place we physically go to just about every day.

    So how far of a drive is too far?

    I only thought about the question this week after reading a post on the LinkedIn blog titled, Inside Story: LinkedIn’s VP of Mobile on Driving in the Snow, Houzz and Anticipatory Computing. I clicked through to the piece because of the 'Anticipatory Computing' phrase, that just sounded really interesting and cool, but as it turns out the more interesting nugget from the post was about how this VP from LinkedIn (Joff Redfern) had a ridiculous commute his first four years with the company.

    How ridiculous? Check this Q and A from the piece:

    Q: What’s not on your LinkedIn Profile?

    A: During my first four years at LinkedIn, I had one of the longest commutes. I lived in Lake Tahoe, California, but worked out of headquarters in Mountain View, California. It’s about 250 miles each way, so I put over 110,000 miles on my car. That’s the equivalent of driving around the world more than four times. It gave me lots of time to think and one of the benefits is that I’m pretty awesome at driving in the snow. 

    Did I read that correctly? 250 miles each way to get to the office? Even taking into account the fact that there was probably no way Mr. Redfern was making a 500 mile round trip every single work day, even still, just a couple of times a week that kind of a grind will be almost impossible to sustain.

    How someone could manage a commute that crazy, and not go insane is kind of an interesting question I think, and you could substitute '500 mile commute' with, 'Has to work 18-hour days for a year in order to ship our first product'. I think there are at least three key elements you'd have to have in place in order to make it work:

    1. The work itself has to be an ideal (for you) combination of challenge/excitement/opportunity/reward that will set you up perfectly for the next 10-15 years of your career such that you simply have to bite the bullet and devote yourself to that work for a year or two (or four).

    2. You either have to have just about zero responsibilities outside of work (no spouse/significant other/kids/dog etc.) that might either literally starve (in the case of a dog) or be starved for attention (every other person in your life), since you are working all of the time. Or, you have someone in your life who has decided that they will take care of everything outside of work for you while you are working all of the time. I suspect it would be really tough for anyone to pull off a regular 500 mile commute if they had a spouse, a couple of kids maybe, at home that they actually wanted to see awake once in a while.

    3.  You have to be (reasonably) healthy before taking on such a grind. The combination of working crazy long hours and a long commute will start to break you down physically (and likely mentally too). You will eventually start eating poorly, not getting enough exercise, definitely not enough sleep and that combination starts to take a toll. If you are not set up to reasonably handle that kind of physical punishment you are more likely to end up in an ER somewhere than accepting a fat bonus check or a bunch of stock options for your hard work. Everyone can handle a long day or two or maybe five, but keep stacking them up, week after week and month after month? Good luck with that.

    So how far are you willing to commute for your dream job?

    Ok, that's it - I'm out for the weekend.

    Happy Father's Day to all the Dads!