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    Entries in HR Tech (231)


    Five Ways for HR to Discover Technology

    Yesterday, Tim Sackett guest posted here with a clever, and I think mostly accurate view on why HR professionals have traditionally been slow to embrace, and at times have difficulty understanding technology.Flickr - iLoveButter

    Since Tim made some great points, I thought I would run a quick follow-up, with just a few ideas and resources for the HR professional that wants to open up and really start to embrace technology.  So in no particular order, here goes:


    Blogs - There are several excellent HR Technology focused blogs that I recommend. Systematic HR, The Knowledge Infuser, InfoBox, InFullBloom, the Human Capitalist, and the HR Technologist should all be on your reading list.  All of these blogs have unique approaches, objectives, and audiences but they all deserve a place on your Google Reader. And as technology continues to grow in importance to 'mainsteam' HR, more and more blogs will focus on technology themed topics.

    Conferences - Are you an HR pro that makes the annual trek to the SHRM National Conference?  While you may be able to talk with lots of HR Technology vendors there, if you really want to get more 'tech' out of your conference dollars, consider trying the annual HR Technology Conference.  It is truly the only event that matters in the HR Technology world.  This three day extravaganza of all things HR Tech is attended by all the significant technology vendors, offers dozens of sessions presented by experts, analysts, and vendors, and is really the place to learn and network in the HR Technology industry.

    Webcasts - Almost all the major HR technology vendors sponsor and/or produce their own free webcasts on general HR Technology topics as well as product-specific discussions and demonstrations.  For more 'vendor-neutral' content, check out the Human Capital Institute or HR.com.  On the vendor side, take a look at Workday who not only produce regular product specific presentations, but also partner with industry experts like Naomi Bloom for more 'strategic' presentations. Here I will shamelessly plug an upcoming HCI webcast I will be on, Transforming the Employment Lifecycle with a Hiring Management System,  December 2 at 1:00PM EST.

    Social Networks - There are the beginnings of some very lively and informative discussions on HR Technology topics on social networks. On Twitter, start by following the #HR_Tech hash tag. There is a monthly HR Technology themed Twitter chat using the #HR_Tech tag, and typically throughout the month many interesting comments, links, and blog posts are tagged with #HR_Tech.  Take a look at the Twitter folks that have added themselves to the #HR_Tech Twibe.  I also think there is plenty of opportunity for someone to leverage a LinkedIn group or perhaps a Ning network for HR and HR Technology folks to gather and share content and network.

    Spy on your Kids - No I don't really mean to literally spy on them, but I suppose you could. I mean that is really between you and your conscience. What I mean is to observe and talk to them about how they interact with technology.  What sites, devices, methods, user interface features do they value and gravitate towards?  There is a growing tendency for technologies that begin to take hold in the consumer space (and are often initially championed by young people) to encroach into the enterprise.  Think about it, the folks that were among the first to sense the myriad business applications for social networks, mobile, and consumer sites like Ebay had a major early mover advantage.  Stay on top of what your kids are up to with technology, and it just may give you ideas you can use today, and a leg up for tomorrow.

    What do you say, what other ways are there for HR pros to start getting more tech savvy?  What has worked for you?


    Five Reasons why Technology is Lost on HR

    Note: Today's post is from Tim Sackett, Executive Vice President of HRU Technical Resources in Lansing, MI. Tim can often be seen as a regular contributor to the Fistful of Talent blog (when he is not holding out for better terms and working conditions). Take it away Tim:


    I’ve spent a number of years in the Corporate HR world in a number of large companies, across multiple industries – and in every stop I was amazed at how 90% of HR Pros just didn’t get technology and how it could help them do their job.  In my experiences, I saw individuals who only wanted enough technology to help streamline some frustrating processes, but not enough where it would even come close to making them more efficient. Why? Because fLICKR - TOM CONGERefficiency equals possible job cuts, which means technology at its core is the enemy of most HR folks.  This concept gets lost on most HR Pros who are following blogs, using social media (even newbies), have their work email on their Blackberry or iPhone, etc.   This small 5-10% of the HR population knows the other side exists, but believes it probably is much smaller than reality.
    This being said – I wanted to give you all a little refresher of how the other 90% are living today, and why technology just might be the anti-Christ to the majority of the HR World:
    1. First and foremost – we don’t have an HRIS Dept. or an HRIS person (which is most companies in the world), so we have to rely on IT, which puts us usually down on the “When Hell Freezes Over” priority list.
    2. We are a cost center (at least that’s what we’ve been told since forever) and don’t understand how to build the business case to add the expense of the next greatest technology tool to help us perform our job functions better.
    3. We are the gatekeepers of employee communication and HIPPA which means paper files, signed forms and scrolls of birch bark.  In no way could we do anything differently – it worked for our grandparents, and it works for us!
    4. Social Media?  No, no, no…I can’t trust that my employees can use Facebook, LinkedIn or even email appropriately for proper work purposes.  Twitter? What’s that?  Look – we struggle with giving them access to a phone – do you even know how many personal calls they make!
    5. Our employees get all the communication they need through our Intranet site and their managers – I mean we update our intranet site each Year with our benefit updates! 


    Editor's Note : Tim Sackett, SPHR is the Executive Vice President of HRU Technical Resources in Lansing, MI. Tim loves everything talent acquisition, and believes every corporate recruitment department in America can and must get better.  He has 15+ years of human resource leadership experience, across multiple industries, on both the corporate and agency side.


    HR Technology as a Training Ground

    Last week on the HR Happy Hour show in between some bombs being dropped (certain HR types being described as 'secretaries' or 'blue-hairs') one really interesting technology related point was made. 

    Specifically, experience working in one of the leading HR Technology vendors, perhaps one that focuses on Talent Management technology like a Halogen or SuccessFactors, provides an excellent knowledge base for future success in an HR organization, and that an HR leader in search of talent should consider HR Technology companies as a great source. 

    Traditionally software companies have looked to recruit from customer organizations (I was recruited by Oracle many years ago in this way). It was an interesting, and I think correct observation. The best technology implementers possess the following attributes, all of which would benefit the internal HR organization.

    Problem Solving

    No two HR technology projects are ever the same.  Even if the consultant has spent a few years implementing the same solution, each project haFlickr- raptortheangels a unique set of requirements, demands, personalities, and pressures to make each one unique.  Solving new problems is a critical component for success, and one that the best consultants can master. In particular, being adaptable to varying levels of support from clients, and knowing when to take decisions and when to get help are skills that come easier to experiences tech consultants than to some others.

    Results focus

    Lots of technology vendors hold their consultants to extremely challenging target for utilization, revenue and profitability.  It can be, at some companies, a high-stress, high-reward type environment. To be a successful technology implementer you have to be able to deliver under pressure, managing multiple and sometimes conflicting demands and expectation.  A good, experienced tech consultant will be cool under pressure and probably be able to teach the rest of the HR staff a thing or two about successful project delivery.

    Customer driven

    Delivering successful technology projects requires relentless customer focus.  Tech consultants certainly operate under parameters and constraints, but the best ones know how to navigate these and maintain focus on the best possible customer outcomes.  During an engagement, a good consultant learns the customer's motivations, concerns, and weaknesses and incorporates this knowledge into the overall solution delivery. A mindset that continually places customer success first will benefit any internal or traditional 'support' organization.

    Breadth of experience

    Most technology consultants will have worked on a wide range of projects, across different industries, regions, and market sizes.  The number and variety of these experiences typically affords a good consultant a great range of direct experiences as well as a large network of contacts from which to draw from.  It may have been competency modeling for an accounting firm, performance management at a University, or compensation planning at a professional services firm, a good consultant carries all the learning from these engagements to your HR department.

    Technology skills

    Certainly if you recruit a new resource from a technology company you'd expect a high level of technical knowledge.  But this knowledge is exactly the kind most HR departments lack, specific ability to assess technology and apply it to help solve HR and business issues.  This is the hardest tech skill for most HR groups to acquire, and it will become more and more important in the future.  If you think your HR shop has enough tech skills today, you are probably wrong, since technology moves so fast, and has become so critical, beefing up your strength in this area is a necessity.

    What do you think? Should you source your next key spot in the HR department from one of the HR Technology vendors?  Or am I way too biased as to the importance of Tech in HR?



    New Class, New Ideas

    The latest installment of my HR Technology class (I think this is number 5) is set to begin in about two weeks time.  Since I am now a veteran of developing and delivering this class, there is the temptation to to think I have it all figured out, and I can simply roll out the last term's content, assignments, readings, etc. and the class will more or less take care of itself.

    But I think to do that would be a disservice to both the students and to myself to some extent. 

    The market for HR Technology is constantly changing. Great and new content is being published every day.  Heck, even the legend Naomi Bloom is now blogging, a new development since I last taught the class.

    And my perspective is changing as well. Since the last class I have attended a half dozen events, read stacks of papers and blog posts, done ten or so HR Happy Hour Shows and met some incredibly smart and talented people.

    So for the new class, I am determined to keep the content and the delivery fresh, relevant, and here is the key I think - forward thinking.  More emphasis on what is 'next' I believe is of more short and long-term value to my students than spending too much time on the past.

    Finally, another goal I have for this session is to have even more community involvement in the class and more external expert interaction with the students.  In the past I have done virtual guest speakers, an HR blogger/student guest post project, and some online discussion forum moderation by outside experts.

    These activities were all interesting, reasonably successful, and to some extent fun.  But I want to do more, push the 'community' aspect even further and try to ensure that once the students have completed the course they have established a real connection to the broader community of HR and Technology stars that have done so much to further my own knowledge.

    If you are an HR pro, HR Technology expert, vendor, or blogger and want to get involved in the HR Technology class, leave me a comment, or send me an e-mail - steveboese@gmail.com.

    If you have some suggestions or recommendations as to what technologies, strategies, and skills I should emphasize I'd love to hear those suggestions as well.

    And as always, thanks for your support.


    Next Generation HR Technology

    Last week on the HR Happy Hour show we welcomed the Fistful of Talent crew to talk 'Next Generation HR'.

    Where are the next wave of HR leaders coming from, what do they need to know, and how will they drive change and superior business performance.  Heady stuff.

    Most of the guests on the show advocated for change; change in approach, change in education and training, and perhaps some re-assessment of the traditional role of HR.

    And just like the HR professional is faced with change, so are the technologies that are used to support Human Resources,  Talent Management, and workforce collaboration. Some of these changes are already in motion in full force, some are just beginning, and some are speculative, but at least to me, reasonably likely.

    What's Begun

    The move from enterprise systems being installed on company premises to being installed, maintained, and upgraded by the software vendor via the Software as a Service model (SaaS), is already firmly underway.

    The trend started with ATS, progressed to Talent Management, has started in ERP, and was always in place for collaboration platforms. And many mid-sized to large organizations that are stuck with aging, expensive, and difficult to manage premises installed ERP systems will begin in earnest to evaluate SaaS-based alternatives that by design are more flexible, cheaper, and typically much more user friendly.

    For the HR pro, this means less reliance on the IT organization than ever before.  When HR applications are deployed via SaaS, only a fast internet connection is needed. Also, since SaaS licences are usually priced on a per-user monthly subscription, they are not Capital Expenditures, but rather funded out of Operating Expenses, and therefore typically much easier to fund from internal HR budgets.

    What's Beginning

    Increasingly Human Resources enterprise systems will connect with and in some cases integrate with external or consumer oriented networks or platforms. Whether it is a company like Sage Software entering into a strategic partnership with consumer portal tool Netvibes, SumTotalSystems integrating Learning and Development applications with Facebook, ATS vendors like JobVite connecting with LinkedIn, Twitter, and others. or SAP building ties with the Jive Software platform for to integrate business intelligence data with wikis, the trend of the enterprise connecting with the external environments has started.

    For the HR pro this presents a number of challenges.  First, if your organization is one the actively block access to external social networks and platforms, soon you will really need to re-assess that position. Look, I won't repeat the same old arguments about loss of productivity, risk of company secrets being leaked, or employees posting inappropriate content on social networks.

    Let's face it, employees are already losing productivity, leaking secrets, and acting inappropriately.

    Either you, as an HR professional either believe this will be important for future organizational success or you don't.  If you do, you probably need to do more than whine and complain about it, and develop and present a cogent business case where loosening of restrictions and application or integration of social tools can derive positive business outcomes. More and more of the leading HR Technology solutions will embrace this trend, and you can either get out in front, or watch it roll by and maybe, if you are lucky jump on later.

    What's to Come

    Speculating on the future is dicey at best, but what the heck let's give it a shot.

    Social emedded into process

    Enterprise systems will continue to add and emphasize 'social' features, further blurring the lines between business process support, external social networks, and collaboration and expertise locator technologies.  More solutions will focus on how end users in HR and employees in the enterprise actually interact with the application and that interaction will more strongly influence functionality and design. Examples might be a performance management process with dynamic ability to connect with subject matter experts on a particular competency or a workforce planning application integrated with external demographic data and content.

    Mass Personalization

    Just like many consumer sites 'remember' you and present content and functions according to your demonstrated prior interactions or stated preferences, more HR Technology solutions will move to simple and flexible personalization.  Why do services like Amazon and Twitter have such tremendous uptake and growth? Part of the reason is that the experience to some extent is user-determined.  Amazon can present recommendations based on your prior activity, and the activity of other users with similar behavior patterns.  Twitter allows a user total control of the experience. In enterprise systems we will see much more extensive, simple, and adaptive personalization so that the systems fit individual desired interaction methods and preferred uses.


    HR Technology will go more and more mobile. Access to information, notifications, the ability to progress workflows for recruiting, performance, or training and development will become the norm. Need to connect with a colleague, post a quick status update to the team, seek out the company's top expert on a particular topic, access some learning content, perhaps a podcast or video?  All of these will be increasingly performed on smart phones and other mobile devices.  Interaction with enterprise systems will be more flexible, available from a multitude of sources, and optimized for each. Systems that are flexible enough to be easily adapted to a variety of mobile platforms will have a tremendous competitive advantage.


    What do you think?  Where is HR Technology going? What will be the true 'Next Gen' solution?