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    Entries in HR Tech (112)

    Friday
    Aug282015

    HRE Column: The Big Trends in HR Tech and the #HRTechConf

    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 that can be found here.

    This month, I took a look at the program for the upcoming HR Technology Conference (which if I can pat myself on the back for a second, put together), and tried to tease out some of the trends and themes that have risen to the surface from months of planning and literally hundreds of pitches.

    I came up with three big trends that I tried to describe in my HR Executive column. From the HRE piece:

    Organizations of all sizes now have access to powerful technology solutions in support of all the functional areas of HR. It will be incumbent upon the HR leader of 2015 and beyond to make the best technology choices in order to successfully develop and execute the organization’s people and talent-management strategies.

    When I review and reflect on this year’s HR Tech conference program, several key themes emerge:

    Data and analytics continue to drive HR and talent management.

    A continuing theme in 2015 has been the realization and maturation of the importance of bringing more analytical approaches and rigor into the HR discipline. The importance of data; the strategies to gather, compile, assess, and make meaning from that data; the role technology plays in support of these efforts, and the ways that data enhances our understanding of people and talent will be explored at this year’s event. Large organizations such as IBM, Unilever and Wawa Inc. are using data, analytics and the modern tools that have become increasingly available for HR and business leaders to efficiently manage this barrage of data and, in time, make more effective and efficient people decisions and set talent strategies.

    We will also hear how analytics are being directly applied in specific functional domains such as recruiting, learning and succession planning, and are not just being carried out for their own sake.

    Finally, the popular “Awesome New Technologies” demonstration sessions will once more have a heavy data and analytics slant. Many of the new innovations that will be presented showcase new ways to capture, present, analyze and make actionable HR and workforce data.

    Building on a theme from 2014, the HR Tech Conference program will once again reflect the continued confluence of marketing, social media and technology with HR, and how these trends are being exploited in functions such as talent acquisition, employer branding and employee engagement. The program lineup will feature interactive panel discussions and conversations with HR, business and talent-acquisition leaders from organizations such as Glassdoor, Cisco, United Health Group and Marriott on the ways modern HR is advancing the application of best practices, borrowed from classic consumer-marketing approaches, to execute talent strategies...

    Read the rest of the HR Exec column here 

    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 wash your car or cut the grass for you if you do sign up for the monthly email.

    Also, if you are interested in the HR Technology Conference you can learn more, see the full agenda, and register to attend at the HR Tech website - www.hrtechconference.com.

    Have a great weekend!

    Monday
    Aug172015

    FOLLOW UP: How changing communication preferences are changing HR technologies

    Last week on the blog I shared a chart on US teens' communication preferences which showed, (among a few other interesting things), that when it comes to interactions with their friends, email is this group's least preferred method/tool of choice. If you are a parent of a teen, or have ever just observed a teen for more than 10 minutes or so, you would notice them pretty furiously tapping away on their phones almost non-stop - with the vast majority of this activity being SMS messaging, (and to a lesser extent using SnapChat, WhatsApp, and social tools like Instagram). 

    What they are almost certainly not doing is sending or replying to email. 

    It might be hard for us crusty adults to want to deal with or accept, but anyone under about 25 or so did not grow up relying on email for anything, (save for possibly communications with 'grown ups').

    Whenever I run a piece like the 'teens hate email' one, I usually get a few comments or replies on Twitter that more or less say the same thing - 'So what? Email isn't ever going away. When these teens enter the workforce they will simply have to adapt. Blah, blah, blah and get off of my lawn.'

    Mostly, it seems, professional adults don't generally see any significant change to email's ubiquity and primacy as the 'professional' communication technology of choice, and fully expect teens and Gen Z types to have to just deal with it if and when they want to get (and keep), a real job.

    But is it really that simple? Or asked differently, can us 'adults' really get away with thinking that way? Forever?

    So after the 'teens hate email' piece ran last week I received an email from Kay Lucas, VP of Product Strategy at PeopleMatter. In case you are not familiar, PeopleMatter is a leading provider of workforce and talent management technology solutions, focusing primarily on retail, hospitality, and other service provider organizations. Think restaurant chains, convenience stores, hotels - that sort of thing.

    The kinds of organizations that do high volume, rapid hiring. And, more importantly, the kinds of organizations that tend to employ lots of folks in their teens and twenties - the kinds of folks that tend to see email as their least preferred method or technology for communication.

    So to get back to Kay, here is the full text of the email she sent over last week after my post ran:

    Steve,

    This past weekend we rolled out a new release and ditched email as being required for applicants for this reason. Just thought you’d be interested in knowing.

    Thanks,

    Kay

    What?

    Candidates can actually apply for a job without an email address? 

    I had to know more, so I asked Kay for some additional background on this decision and she shared with me some more details (note, I checked with Kay and have her permission to share these emails here).

    (Kay Lucas, PeopleMatter)

    We decided to do this (allowing customers to make Email an optional field for candidates), because our customers felt like they were losing applicants because email was required. One very large casual dining customer in particular really thought that they were losing two whole groups of people: 1) the younger generation as you point out, 2) the non-tech generation – think of back of the house employees in restaurants and retail. It could be folks where English is not their first language and/or they just don’t care about email because they have no reason for it.

    We also know that in our space (service industry), the majority of employees don’t have computers – their phone is their connection. So, texting and mobile friendly are key.

    The release literally just happened this past Saturday morning. Here’s what we have already seen: 

    On Sunday, the quantity of job applications increased by 5% from the prior SundayOn Monday, the quantity of job applications increased by 22% from the prior Monday. Wow! We are already blown away and totally pumped we did this. Hats off to our clients and I love listening to them. Makes us so much smarter. They get it and we are so happy that we’ve made this change. The labor market is tight so this is a really big deal for them.

    Ok, so I love this for a few different reasons. One, it gives us a direct, real-world example of how teens and others communication preferences, (essentially mobile phone driven, and SMS heavy), are being acknowledged and reflected in how organizations and HR technology providers are deploying HR tools. If your target applicant pool would prefer not to use email, (or simply can't use email), then provide a way for them to interact and apply with you using their desired method.Image courtesy PeopleMatter - click for a large version

    Second, it shows really well how good my friends at PeopleMatter understand and react to their customers. Retail and food service are precisely the kinds of industries that would likely have plenty of candidates in the email hating teen to young adult cohort, and this 'email optional' update shows how well the technology can adapt to these needs.

    And finally, it serves as a great reminder to all of us, HR leaders and HR technology providers alike, that just because us old farts that make all of the rules and all of the decisions are not that we are not always right, and that we need to be open minded enough to adapt to what today's 19 year olds think too. 

    That is if we want to remain relevant once that 19 year old becomes out 26 year old boss in a few years.

    Thanks again to Kay Lucas at PeopleMatter for sharing the information on their approach to this issue and if you are an HR leader from retail or food service or hospitality be sure to check out what PeopleMatter is up to.

    Have a great week!

    Thursday
    Aug132015

    PODCAST: #HRHappyHour 219 - Keeping Your Career Safe from the Robots

    HR Happy Hour 219 - Keeping Your Career Safe from the Robots

    Recorded LIVE from SuccessConnect 2015 in Las Vegas, August 11, 2015

    Hosts: Steve BoeseTrish McFarlane

    Guest: Karie Willyerd, SuccessFactors

    LISTEN HERE

    This week on the HR Happy Hour Show, Steve sat down at SuccessFactors customer conference SuccessConnect and spoke with Karie Willyerd, Workplace Futurist (i.e. the best job title ever), and author of the upcoming book Stretch: How to Future-Proof Yourself for Tomorrow's Workplace

    On the show, Steve and Karie talked about just what a Workplace Futurist does, what are some of the big-picture work and workplace challenges that lay ahead for organizations, and then dove into the the issues and workplace opportunities that increased use of robotics and automation present. Karie laid out 5 key principles that anyone can use to help ensure their continued development, assert their value, and keep themselves and their careers safe from our future robot overlords.

    This was a really fun show! 

    You can listen to the show on the show page HERE, or using the widget player below:

    Check Out Business Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Steve Boese Trish McFarlane on BlogTalkRadio

     

    Thanks to SAP/SuccessFactors for having the HR Happy Hour Show at the event.

    Finally, thanks to our show sponsors Equifax - learn more about how Equifax Workforce Solutions can help you and your organization here.

    And really finally, on iTunes or your favorite podcast app just search for 'HR Happy Hour' to subscribe to the show and never miss an episode.

    Tuesday
    Aug112015

    Enterprise Robots

    Most 'Robots are coming to take away all of our jobs' stories usually read something like this one - 'Chinese factory replaces 90% of humans with robots, production soars' - a recent recounting of the now getting familiar tale of automation becoming more and more of a threat to workers and employment.

    You can check out the entire piece on Tech Republic, but here is the essential takeaway:

    The Changying Precision Technology Company factory in Dongguan has automated production lines that use robotic arms to produce parts for cell phones. The factory also has automated machining equipment, autonomous transport trucks, and other automated equipment in the warehouse.

    There are still people working at the factory, though. Three workers check and monitor each production line and there are other employees who monitor a computer control system. Previously, there were 650 employees at the factory. With the new robots, there's now only 60. Luo Weiqiang, general manager of the company, told the People's Daily that the number of employees could drop to 20 in the future.

    The robots have produced almost three times as many pieces as were produced before. According to the People's Daily, production per person has increased from 8,000 pieces to 21,000 pieces. That's a 162.5% increase.

    The increased production rate hasn't come at the cost of quality either. In fact, quality has improved. Before the robots, the product defect rate was 25%, now it is below 5%

    Ooh - that's is the technology double, (really triple), whammy at the expense of workers - cost savings, increased productivity, and better quality. At least in this specific manufacturing example, there just seems to be no way for workers to compete with the robots in this scenario.

    So that is the scary, and kind of obvious aspect of the robot takeover, and perhaps for most of the folks reading this blog not one that feels particularly relevant, at least personally. Most of the audience here (and me too), are not manufacturing workers, or even on the 'front-lines' of our businesses for that matter. We work in the more complex, subtle, nuanced, and emotionally tuned-in parts of the business. We have to understand and deal with people, not rigid manufacturing processes. We need to be able to read people, their language, their facial expressions, their tone, and their mood. We need to be able to connect with people. Robots can't do that.

    Well, not yet anyway.

    Recently Japanese mobile phone operator SoftBank announced the enterprise availability of Pepper - a humanoid robot designed to be a companion able to communicate with people through the most intuitive interface we know: voice, touch and emotions. Launched first as a personal, and in-home companion, the makers of Pepper envision deployment of the robot in many business scenarios - dealing with customer in a retail setting, educating customers on products and services, and perhaps even entertaining them while they wait for service. 

    But the interesting part of this is not just what this particular robot can or can't do today, it is what Pepper (and surely others to follow), is designed to be able to do in general. This is from SoftBank's 'Who is Pepper?' website:

    To be a true social companion Pepper needs to be able to understand your emotions. If you burst out laughing, he will know you are in a good mood. If you frown, Pepper will understand that something is bothering you.

    Pepper can translate what state you are in using his knowledge of universal emotions (joy, surprise, anger, doubt and sadness) and his ability to analyze your facial expression, body language and the words you use. He will guess your mood, and will even adapt to it. For example, he will try to cheer you up by playing your favorite song!

    Pepper also can express emotions, and this is what makes him so cute! We can say he has a real personality conveyed by his body language, his funny gestures and his voice.

    Reading expressions, gauging your mood from analyzing a complex set of human cues, adapting to you as necessary, and finally, learning from these interactions. Let's suspend (natural) disbelief for a minute and assume Pepper can actually do these things, and is likely to get better and better at all of them over time. If that is the case, what might these developments mean for the rest of us, those of us who don't worry about robots taking over Chinese factories, since we, you know, don't work in Chinese factories?

    Robots taking over low-skill manufacturing jobs is only part of the larger automation story, and probably not the most interesting or important part. It is really just replacing one human in a human-process/machine interaction.

    Robots like Pepper substituting for human-human interactions? Now that is a story. One that hits much closer to the mark.

    Tuesday
    Aug042015

    CHART OF THE DAY: Surging Investments in HR Tech

    Really a simple and self-explanatory Chart of the Day for a busy Tuesday, this one courtesy of the Wall St. Journal. Take a look at the chart of venture capital investment in the HR and Recruiting technology market from 1998 to the present, and as you expect and demand, some FREE commentary from me after the data.

    Some quick takes:

    1. First, to level set, the first half of 2015 with investment of about $811M is almost greater than the highest-ever yearly total of $859M back in 2000. Ah, 2000. The 'dot-com' era.  Good times.  But looking at the data you could argue that the HR tech market for VC investment really did not recover from the dot-com crash until very recently, like last year. So it could be that a prolonged period of under-investment is partially to account for the dramatic increases in 2014 and so far in 2015.

    2. Let's go ahead and assume that most VCs have plenty of options and opportunities for investment. If that is the case, then this windfall of money flowing into the HR tech space is good news for a large array of industry players - folks who can sell HR tech solutions, marketers, analyst firms, HR conferences, and even little 'ol bloggers like me, who have lots of products to see, think about, and potentially write about.  It is a sure sign of an industry that is primed for growth when the investment levels are surging upwards as we see in the WSJ. It's like the dot-com years all over again. At least let's hope we don't crash like we did from '02 - '04.

    3. What does this mean for the really important players in the HR tech market - the actual customers? Well in the broadest strokes it is mostly positive. More investment creates more competition which leads to better products and more customer choices. And while sometimes it seems like in HR tech that the bigger, more established players have gobbled up via acquisition many of the new entrants, I can assure you that judging from the number of HR tech startup demos I have been doing that there is no shortage of new ideas and innovation in the space.  This is a great time to be a customer of HR Tech, even if the market can be a little tricky to navigate.

    But like I said, good times all around - for the VCs, for the startups, and most importantly, for the customers and HR leaders who have access to an ever-expanding set of tools and technologies to help them improve results in their organizations.