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    Which tech advice is good advice? #SHRM14

    Been spending a little time working on the final bits of the presentation titled "What Did the HR Tech Salesperson Say? Demystifying HR Technology Selection and Implementation", that Trish McFarlane and I will be giving later this week at the SHRM Annual Conference, and by way of preview (and since it is interesting to me) I wanted to riff on one section of the presentation, where we plan to discuss ways for 'normal' HR pros to conduct HR technology research.

    With blogs, social networks, LinkedIn, podcasts, about 1,345 Twitter chats, etc. there is no shortage of advice, opinion, and information out there about anything and that of course includes HR technology solutions. 

    But which sources of advice are good advice, or at least, relatively better than some of the competing alternatives? I think you can break down and then compare sources of advice on HR Technology solutions on a simple 2x2 grid with the X Axis being "Informed" and the Y Axis being "Biased" (or at least the potential exists for bias based on history, contracts, or other less obvious drivers of biased opinion.)

    Here's my take on the "Who can you trust/who knows what they are talking about" chart:

    What do you think? Too harsh on some of the vendor-driven content? Not giving the Online Pundits their due? Does your Mom know a lot more about HR Technology than I calculated?

    Look, the exact placement of any of these sources of information on the plot of 'Informed/Biased' is subject to debate, interpretation, and certainly exceptions exist for any of them.

    But the larger, and more important point I think, and one we will make during the presentation, is that any source that you as an HR pro uses as an input into your research/decision process needs to be evaluated and scrutinized carefully.

    Lots of 'experts' really are not that expert - they either never have actually bought and implemented HR solutions in organizations themselves, or haven't done so for a really long time. Some consultants purport to be vendor solution agnostic, but might only have a chance at scoring some billable work from you if you select a specific vendor's technology. And lots of people with blogs and Twitter accounts have no idea what they are talking about, (possibly me too).

    So in the SHRM session, we will try to take some of the mystery out of what can often be a one-sided, vendor has all the power kind of dynamic, and give you the HR pro some tips, tricks, and secret code to help you better understand the process, and hopefully that will lead to better outcomes.

    And, we will have a bunch of HR Happy Hour shirts to give away at the session as well!


    CHART OF THE DAY: Special #SHRM14 Handbag Edition

    The convergence was just too irresistible to fight: the week of the SHRM Annual Conference (where on Wednesday in the SHRM version of the 'Session Time of Death', Trish McFarlane and I will be presenting), I run across a story and chart about HR ladies' traditional favorite accessory maker, Coach.

    Turns out, times are getting a little tough for Coach - in the last couple of years it has seen it's sales growth evaporate, its stock price essentially miss the entire bull market, and the emergence of increased competition from companies like Michael Kors and Tory Burch.

    Today's chart, courtesy of Bloomberg Businessweek, shows the percentage change in same-store sales (a really important data point in retail), for Coach and its principal rival for the arms of HR ladies everywhere, Michael Kors.

    Pretty ugly if you are a fan of Coach, (or a stockholder). Kors has been killing it while Coach seems to be in the beginnings of their death spiral.

    Times are certainly changing, I guess - whatever allure Coach had for many years seems to be waning and companies like Kors and Tory Burch and Kate Spade are the new must-haves.

    What in fact do I know about any of these trends in women's fashion and accessories?

    Hardly anything. But I have owned and loved a series of Coach men's wallets over the years, so I suppose I should think about making a future replacement purchase as insurance - just in case in three years when my current wallet is about needing to be retired there will be no more Coach to speak of. The relationship a man has with his wallet is a pretty important one, second only to the one he has with his butcher I would think. So put me on the record as hoping Coach figures it out.

    If you are heading to SHRM, have fun - look around and see if you can spot this changing of the guard so to speak as you wander the halls and the Expo.

    Have a great week!


    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.


    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!


    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.


    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!