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    Entries in HR Tech (140)


    Intelligent Technology

    Because my life is much, much less interesting than yours, I am spending my Sunday night doing two things: Watching NBA basketball and reading this - The Accenture Technology Vision 2016 report. 

    There is some really interesting information, research, and conclusions about the most important tech trends for the coming 3 - 5 years in the Accenture report, as well as a (probably unintentional) nod to my friends over at Ultimate Software as their slogan 'People First', is literally all over the Accenture report.

    Accenture identifies 5 big themes in their technology vision for organizations, and there is one in particular, actually Trend #1, 'Intelligent Automation', that I was most interested in, and wanted to explore a little bit. A few weeks ago I posted my 'What HR should be talking about in 2016' piece, and in that piece, (written over the holidays and before I became aware of the Accenture report), I had this to say about 'Intelligent Technology' - pretty much the same thing as 'Intelligent Automation':

    But this year, I hope that HR and HR tech expands not just the capability but the conversation in this area just a bit further, into something more akin to a kind of 'intelligent' set of tools and workflows that will help HR, managers, and employees complete processes, tasks, and hopefully allow them to make better decisions. This technology would not just predict the likelihood of a potential outcome, but would 'learn' from usage patterns, history, preferences, and more about what you (the employee) should do next, given a set of data and process conditions. That could mean surfacing the 'right' learning content when you get assigned to a new project, suggesting you make an internal connection with a specific colleague when you run a search in the corporate knowledge base for a specific topic, or if you are a manger, provide you intelligent recommendations about how to handle coaching conversations with your team members, adapted to their individual profiles and preferences. 

    Pretty heady stuff, right? I spent at least 20 minutes on that post. For real.

    Now let's take a look at the above-mentioned Accenture Technology Vision 2016 report and take a look at a bit of what they have to say about 'Intelligent Automation':

    On the surface it may appear to be a simple transfer of tasks from man to machine. But look a little closer. The real power of intelligent automation lies in its ability to fundamentally change traditional ways of operating, for businesses and individuals. These machines offer strengths and capabilities (scale, speed, and the ability to cut through complexity) that are different from—but crucially complementary to—human skills. And their increasing sophistication is invigorating the workplace, changing the rules of what’s possible so that people and their new digital co-workers can together do things differently. And do different things. 

    Machines and artificial intelligence will be the newest recruits to the workforce, bringing new skills to help people do new jobs, and reinventing what’s possible. 

    Although the two pull quotes are not exactly the same, mine is kind of narrow, and talks about some HR tech-specific use cases while Accenture is talking really big picture kinds of things, at their core they are really talking about the same things. Technology, automation, and intelligent solutions that will do what machines can do best, (collect, analyze, and synthesize large data sets), and which will in the most effective organizations combine with human intelligence, experience, and social understanding to lead to the most effective outcomes.

    I have to admit is was pretty cool to see the Accenture report this weekend and read that Intelligent Automation/Technology was featured so prominently in their take on 2016 as it was on my, HR-centric take from the beginning of the year. It feels kind of validating in a way. Now both Accenture and I could be wrong about this I suppose, but at least I don't feel crazy for positing the idea.

    Ok, enough, the Knicks are about to start. Check out the Accenture Technology Vision 2016 report for more information on this, and after you have checked it out, send a note to your HR Tech provider to see what, if anything they are working on towards a future of 'Intelligent Technology'.

    Have a great week! 


    HRE Column: What's in store for HR tech in 2016

    Here is my semi-frequent reminder and pointer for blog readers that I also write a monthly column at Human Resource Executive Online called Inside HR Tech and that archives of which can be found here.

    As usual, the Inside HR Tech column is about, well, HR Tech, (sort of like I used to write about all the time on this blog), and it was inspired by the many calls and conversations I have been having at the start of the new year.  For me, the planning process for the October HR Technology Conference really gets going in January with plenty of speaking inquiries and submissions coming in, and lots of HR tech industry companies sharing with me what they think are the important HR, technology, and workplace issues and trends for the coming year.

    Since the primary question I get this time of year is some version of 'What do you think will be the big themes for the Conference this year?', I thought I would share some thoughts about what I am hearing and thinking about for HR and HR technology as the year gets underway on the latest Inside HR Tech column.

    I once again kind of liked this month's column, (I suppose I like all of them, after all I wrote them), but felt like sharing this one on the blog because it touches upon what has been in the past a pretty popular topic with HR leaders today - how to understand UX and how to evaluate UX to make the most of their HR technology investments.

    Here is an excerpt from the HRE column, 'What's in Store in 2016': (Note, the title of the column is a statement, not a question. Kind of like the classic Marvin Gaye song, 'What's going on'. Think about it..

    From HR Executive...

    I have started the planning process for the 19th Annual HR Technology Conference and Exposition® (Oct. 4 through 7, 2016, at McCormick Place in Chicago), and the most common question I get from people and organizations that have interest in the conference is: What will be the main themes of the event this year?

    It is a pretty sensible question, I think. Each year, the event covers such a wide range of technologies and topics and, over time, many of the primary challenges facing HR and business leaders have changed and evolved as well. So the main themes of an event focusing on HR and organizational success enabled and supported by modern technologies should naturally evolve along with these business challenges and opportunities.

    But let's get back to the question, the one I have literally been asked at least 20 times in the last few weeks. I am going to take an early shot at answering it, and, since the HR Tech conference is meant to reflect and track overall HR and business challenges, these are also the themes and issues that I think will dominate the general human-capital-management agenda in the coming year.

    Rethinking Performance Management

    In 2015, we saw a number of announcements from leading organizations such as Deloitte, Adobe and PwC suggesting a move away from "traditional" annual performance reviews and management and to more flexible, frequent and coaching-based approaches to employee-performance management. It seems likely that this trend will continue in 2016, with more organizations looking to revamp performance management processes and seeking to adapt existing technology solutions or acquire new ones that support this new direction.

    The Evolution of Employee Engagement

    Since 1879 (I am joking, but only a little), many organizations have struggled trying to improve persistent and consistent low levels of employee engagement. I expect this struggle to continue in 2016, but I think more organizations will move past focusing on the "end result," i.e., the engagement score, and look to more directly impact the key drivers of the employee experience that ultimately drive engagement...

    Read the rest over at HR Executive...

    Good stuff, right? Humor me...

    If you liked the piece you can sign up over at HRE to get the Inside HR Tech Column emailed to you each month. There is no cost to subscribe, in fact, I may even come over and take your dog out for a walk or dig your car out of the snow if you do sign up for the monthly email.

    Have a great dayand rest of the week!


    Why 'normals' are willing to adopt new technologies

    Quick shot for a busy Friday from a source that seems just about as far from HR and HR tech as possible, but I think offers a great reminder for anyone trying to effect a tech-driven change, HR or otherwise, on a group of people.

    If you follow the news at all then you will certainly be aware of the rapid technological advances and the seemingly profound changes on the horizon for the personal transportation industry, i.e., the car(s) that are likely at the end of your driveway, and your relationship with them.

    In short, the combination of the rapid improvement of self-driving auto technology (Google, Tesla, several other auto makers), an increase in the range, efficiency, and affordability in electric powered vehicles, (Tesla, GM), and the sudden but seemingly blanket coverage (at least in major cities), of 'ride-sharing' technology and services, (Uber, Lyft), has the potential to fundamentally change the methods and ownership of the means of personal transportation for millions, are changing the 'car' more than any time since the car replaced the horse. No one is sure exactly how all of these technological and sociological trends will collide and crash, and what the outcome will be, but most experts think that personal transportation will be markedly different in the next 20 years or so. 

    The reason I thought this was interesting today, and wanted to share on the blog, was a short observation about the user adoption of modern technology pulled from a recent essay on the changes in the personal transportation ecosystem and how these changes might play out on the stratechery blog titled Cars and the Future. Check the quote below, and think about what it suggests for ANY kind of change program that you or your team is trying to implement inside your organization. (emphasis mine)

    This generational pattern of adoption will, in the history books, look sudden, even as it seems to unfold ever so slowly for those of us in the here and now — especially those of us working in technology. The pace of change in the technology industry - which is young, hugely driven by Moore’s Law, and which has largely catered to change-embracing geeks - s likely the true aberration. After all, the biggest mistake consistently made by technologists is forgetting that for most people technology is a means to an end, and for all the benefits we can list when it comes to over-the-top video or a network of on-demand self-driving vehicles, change and the abandonment of long-held ideals like the open road and a bit of TV after supper is an end most would prefer to avoid.

    Only the most enthusiastic technophiles care at all about the technology itself and what that technology does.

    Everyone else cares only about what that technology can enable them to accomplish. It needs to help them do amazing new things, help them do the boring old things easier, faster, or cheaper, or otherwise leave them better off than they were before the introduction of the technology.

    Self-driving, on-demand, electric cars might be coming soon. But for people to adopt them en masse, they have to not just be a marvel of technology and engineering. They have to make people's lives better or they won't be adopted like the experts think.

    That same statement can be made for that new HR system you are thinking of implementing as well.

    Have a great weekend!


    What HR should be talking about most in 2016, (and what we need to stop talking about)

    My second annual (here is last year's in case you are interested), completely unscientific, biased, personal, and guaranteed to be 100% accurate take on what HR, work, and workplace technology topics we will be spending endless cycles dissecting and analyzing in 2015, followed by a short list of topics that we have, have, have to stop it already with lamenting.

    These 'hot' topics were complied from a scientific review of all the stuff I saved, tweeted, bookmarked, or emailed to myself over the holiday break, because since I read everything, that is the only research that is really needed. Also, and as an aside, I still email myself stuff all the time and every time I do that I feel like a noob. Oh well, here goes...

    What HR should be talking about most in 2016:

    Intelligent Technology - Last year I had 'Predictive Analytics' as one of my three things HR should be talking about in 2015. And talk about it many folks did, even if not very many organizations have as yet had either the technology in place or the organizational readiness for adapting this kind of advanced analysis into their day-to-day HR functions. But even if many or even most organizations are not yet there with predictive analytics, more and more of the major and leading HR technology solution providers are baking in predicitive capability into thier platforms and providing at least basic 'predictions' on things like retention and peformance to HR and business leaders already. And I think this trend and set of tools will continue to expand in capabiliy and usage in 2016. But this year, I hope that HR and HR tech expands not just the capability but the conversation in this area just a bit further, into something more akin to a kind of 'intelligent' set of tools and workflows that will help HR, managers, and employees complete processes, tasks, and hopefully allow them to make better decisions. This technology would not just predict the likelihood of a potential outcome, but would 'learn' from usage patterns, history, preferences, and more about what you (the employee) should do next, given a set of data and process conditions. That could mean surfacing the 'right' learning content when you get assigned to a new project, suggesting you make an internal connection with a specific colleague when you run a search in the corporate knowlege base for a specific topic, or if you are a manger, provide you intelligent recommendations about how to handle coaching conversations with your team members, adapted to their individual profiles and preferences. I think there is plenty more we can and should be doing with all the data that our systems are capturing. In 2016 HR and HR tech should be talking about this much, much more.

    Benefits - I may be way off, but I think boring old benefits are going to be a big deal in 2016. And while the compliance-related ACA driven stuff will always be an important issue for HR, I am not even talking about that side of benefits. No, I am referring to that collection of non-cash rewards that in a tightening labor market can play a huge role in retention, engagement, and productivity - all things that remain important in just about any year. Expand the definition of 'benefits' a little to include all the various initiatives that organizations have or may undertake in order to improve work/life balance for their employees, (flexible work, modified schedules, enhancements to parental leave, etc), and suddenly benefits and related becomes a much more strategic and powerful set of tools in the HR leader's workshop. Last item on this: In 2016 I think 'Financial wellness' will be a subject of more conversations than in the last 10 years combined. 

    Employee Experience - This an offshoot of the prior point about Benefits and kind of expands that line of thinking into things like the design, layout, and function of workspaces, as well as the technologies and methods that are employed to facilitate individuals and teams getting their work done while feeling good about that work they are doing. With workers demanding more flexible schedules and locations, and many organizations desire to reduce real estate footprints and costs, figuring out the best ways to juggle people, places, technologies, and the workload will be a primary challenge and opportunity for HR leaders in 2016. Employee experience is a big topic, and most organizations don't really think about it in those terms. Rather, they manage the heck out of individual components of the experience, (recruiting, onboarding, technology, facilities, org design, training, performance management, comp, etc.), and hope that somehow the overall package adds up to a winning combination. Sometimes that works. Sometimes not. Most organizations have a pretty senior executive who 'owns' the overall customer experience and/or success, why not have a similar exec in the HR office that would own the employee experience/success?

    And Here is what HR needs to stop talking about in 2016:

    Millennials - If you are a semi-frequent reader of the blog, you may remember this post from a couple of weeks ago - CHART OF THE DAY: We can FINALLY stop talking about Millennials. In the piece, I shared some data that showed that in the USA that Gen Z (the one that comes after the Millennials), have just about caught up to the Millennials in terms of numbers. Additionally, the youngest members of Gen Z are now starting to enter the workforce. Add this all up and it can only mean one thing - if you are STILL talking about Millennials in 2016 you are going to sound like you've been beamed back to 2008. The only interesting generations are these: The one just emerging on to the scene as contributing members of society (Gen Z), and the one that is predominantly in charge of things, (Government, business, institutions). I would argue that is Gen X at this point. Bottom line: no more about Millennials in 2016 please.

    The 'Gig' Economy - Here's the thing about the rise in importance of the so-called 'Gig Economy', it is quite possible that its growth as a percentage of the labor force has been generally exaggerated possibly due to the oversized coverage that the largest Gig company, Uber, has received over the years. According to this Wall St. Journal piece from last July:

    Far from turning into a nation of gig workers, Americans are becoming slightly less likely to be self-employed, and less prone to hold multiple jobs. Official government data shows around 95% of those who report having jobs are accounted for on the formal payroll of U.S. employers, little changed from a decade ago.

    If Uber and its ilk were fundamentally undermining the relationship workers have with employers, that shift would be showing up in at least some of the key economic indicators. Hundreds of thousands of Americans, or even a few million, may have dabbled in the gig economy, but in the context of the 157 million-strong U.S. labor force, the trend remains marginal.

    It is possible that since there are likely more 'Gig' workers in coastal 'elite' cities like New York and San Francisco, and folks in these cities dominate the conversations in the media, that it just feels like the Gig economy is fast becoming the dominant form of work. But the data just doesn't reflect that, at least not yet. And it likely will not in 2016 or in 2018 or maybe even in 2020. So for now, it makes sense to think about your labor force composition, sure, (just like it always has), but massive, fundamental changes in that mix of labor is not typically top of mind for most organizations.

    Employee Engagement - A holdover from my list of things HR should stop talking about from last year, I fear the conversations about employee engagement hardly ebbed in 2015. Why do I keep thinking we need to drop the employee engagement conversation? Well, for the same reasons as I wrote back in late 2014, namely that Only 30% of employees are 'engaged'. That has become an immutable truth of work and workplaces. It is right alongside 'Average annual salary increases will be 3% this year' as the most expected headline of the year in HR. And so maybe it is time to just accept it. Lots of people are not 'engaged' and probably will never be no matter what. Quit worrying about it. Worry about if they show up, they get their jobs done, they don't leak the company intranet to the North Koreans, and they don't microwave leftover fish in the lunch room. We (collectively) have spent ages of time, effort, and energy trying to 'fix' engagement and we have (so far) failed. Maybe it's time to take a year off.  

    Ok, I am out. What say you? Am I close on this? Or off the mark? 

    Have a great week and a fantastic 2016!


    PODCAST: #HRHappyHour 228 - Selecting and Implementing HR Tech like a Pro

    HR Happy Hour 228 - Selecting and Implementing HR Technology like a Pro

    Recorded Monday, December 21, 2015

    Hosts: Steve BoeseTrish McFarlane

    Guest: Jeremy Ames , President, HiveTechHR


    This week on the show, Steve and Trish were joined by Jeremy Ames, President of HiveTechHR, a Massachusetts based firm that helps companies with strategize and implement their HR Technology. He's a member of the SHRM HR Management and Technology Expertise Panel Member and a former IHRIM Board Member.

    We chat with Jeremy about a topic that is becoming increasingly important in Human Resources~ how to select and implement technology.  Jeremy shares some secrets to doing that as well as insight on how to take all the additional steps needed to successfully make technology changes in your organization.

    You can listen to the show on the show page HERE, or by using the widget player below: (Email and RSS subscribers will need to click through).

    This was a really fun and interesting show, thanks to Jeremy for joining us this week.

    As a reminder, you can find the HR Happy Hour Show on iTunes and all the major podcast apps for iOS and Android. Just search for 'HR Happy Hour' and add the show to your playlists and you will never miss a show.