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    Entries in HR Tech (220)


    HR Tech Chat - HR and Collaboration

    This Wednesday, July 8 at 9:00 PM EDT Bryon Abramowitz and I will be hosting the third installment of the Twitter #HR_Tech chat. This time the theme is 'The Role of HR in Internal Collaboration Projects'.

    With the increased emphasis on internal collaboration using tools like wikis, blogs, microblogs, and internal social networks there is both a challenge and an opportunity for HR departments to take on a leadership role in organizing and leading these initiatives. We plan on discussing this and hopefully some good insights can be shared on how HR can truly be effective in these projects.

    But just what is #HR_Tech chat you ask?Flickr - Kamoda

    It is a Twitter 'themed' chat. Folks participate by sharing their thoughts, comments, and questions on the topic and append the hashtag #HR_Tech to all the Tweets. This makes the overall stream of conversation reasonably coherent, and allows the uses of tools like Tweetchat or Tweetgrid to assist in following the conversations. Amybeth Hale just posted an excellent overview of themed chats on her Research Goddess blog if you would like a better description of the idea.

    At any rate, I hope to see many HR and HR Tech folks in the chat on Wednesday and look forward to a great discussion.


    Two HR Technology Solutions - One Theme

    HR Technology has become a deep and richly varied discipline.  It encompasses so many diverse technologies and processes, that trying to keep 'current' is definitely a challenge.

    Last week was a busy one, and I thought it would be interesting to give a quick overview of two of the  technologies and solutions I was discussing and trying to learn more about.

    Collaborative Technology

    Neighborhood America - I had a great call and demonstration of the Community Platform ELAvate from Neighborhood America, a company based in Florida that provides solutions for both external, customer oriented communities, and internal, employer-oriented communities. The market for community platforms is a crowded one, with companies such as Jive, Telligent, Tomoye (my current vendor partner for my next class), and several others.

    The ELAvate solution offers all the features that are becoming 'must-haves' in this market, things like rich user profiles, discussion forums, blogs, content rating and tagging, and many others. Increasingly, organizations are looking to these platform solutions in their quest to improve employee collaboration and communication, and to harness internally some of the energy and momentum that has shifted to popular external networking sites. Where Neighborhood America stands out from their competitors in this space is with their new Reveal module, an idea generation, review, and rating component that allows customers or employees to propose, comment, and vote on ideas. These idea generators are very popular in the consumer space, (Dell and Starbucks are two notable examples), and can be an effective way to harness the creativity and innovation of an organization.

    I was very impressed with Neighborhood America, and want to thank Ron Duquette and Lori Burke for taking the time to show me the platform.



    Avature - I was fortunate to get a demonstration of the Avature Recruiting CRM product from the nice folks there.  The Recruiting CRM product essentially applies classic customer relationship management concepts, (campaigns, sourcing, pipelines, and relationship building) to an organization's candidate population. This solution is a significant departure from traditional applicant tracking systems that are primarily used to create and post job requisitions, and collect specific applications for those positions.  Traditional ATS are often designed with the functional step by step process in the forefront, and not designed around the candidate and building and managing a relationship with said candidate.

    The features that I saw were very impressive, things like mining social networks like LinkedIn, easy import of contacts from various source systems, and multiple candidate communication channels including integrated SMS messaging.  It was immediately clear that the Avature Recruiting CRM can't really be compared to 'traditional' ATS, as the Avature solution mostly enhances and augments the functions of the ATS.  Certainly organizations that find themselves in highly complex, competitive, and high volume recruiting situations would likely be wise to take a look at Avature. Thanks very much to Mike Johnson at Avature for the demonstration and to Susan Byrnes for arranging the introduction.


    While these technology solutions support completely different business processes (employee collaboration versus candidate relationship management), they do possess a common theme.  That is, fostering connections between people for the ultimate benefit of the organization. In the case of Neighborhood America, the platform aims to enhance creativity and innovation by facilitating employees connecting to each other.  For Avature, the goal is to connect prospects and candidates to the organization for mutual benefit. 

    Systems that facilitate connections and relationships, rather than simply automate transactional business processes are, I think, the most interesting developments in HR Technologies, and definitely one that I plan on researching further and incorporating into the HR Technology class.


    HR Technology Presentation - BNHRA, April 25

    This coming Saturday, April 25, 2009 I have the great pleasure of presenting an overview of my HR Technology class to the Buffalo Niagara Human Resource Association's (BNHRA)  student chapter.

    This seminar will provide an overview of the fundamental technologies that support essential HR processes, review the increasingly important field of Talent Management technologies, and lastly discuss the emerging impact and influence of 'Web 2.0' technologies and platforms on HR Technology.

    In preparing for the presentation, I decided to give mind-mapping a try to get the rough outline of the presentation organized, and to see how the topics 'flowed'.  I used a site called MindMeister, and below is the MindMap I created for the April 25 session.  In the lower right corner of the image below, there is a small icon that can be clicked to see the full map. Or you can click anywhere inside the image, hold down the mouse button, and drag around on the MindMap to see the details.


    Anyone who takes a look at this, please feel free to let me know what you think about the outline.  Is it too much content? Not enough? Did I leave something out, or does a particular topic call for more emphasis?

    I really look forward to the presentation to the students, and thanks to the BNHRA for inviting me.


    Twitter, Ralph Nader, and the other 97%

    I plead guilty to the charge of contributing to the hype, buzz, hyperbole, or whatever term you care to use surrounding the astronomical growth of Twitter.

    I have spent way more hours than I care to calculate tweeting and reading tweets.

    I have written probably 10 or so blog posts about Twitter, (and for a little blog like this one that is quite a bit).

    Twitter has been a great resource for me, (and quite fun at times I admit).  But I feel the need to point out a couple of things about Twitter that I think are relevant and important.

    Yesterday the internet monitoring firm ComScore released a report on Twitter usage that indicated approximately 4 million folks in the United States accessed Twitter in February 2009, which was a 1,000 percent increase from a year ago.

    Wow, incredible. 

    Did you also know that the US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates non-farm US employment to be about 137 million?

    For the math challenged, that amounts to less than 3% of the people employed in the US visited Twitter in February.  (Actually the real percentage has to be lower, there is no way all of the 4 million Twitter visitors are all employed, but the precise percentages are not the important thing).

    You know how much 3% is?Photo - Mike Licht

    That's about how much of the popular vote that (kook) Ralph Nader received in the 2000 US Presidential Election.

    3% is an incredibly small percentage, but just about the perfect size for an effective echo chamber.

    For the HR professional and the HR Technologist, this is an essential statistic  that bears attention.  The vast majority of experienced, capable, and effective HR practitioners are not on Twitter, don't care how many followers you have, are not versed in the art of crafting Tweets to increase the likelihood of the 'retweet', and don't know who Scoble or Brogan or Kawasaki are.

    That does not make them less intelligent or valuable to the organization.

    Sure 4 million people are on Twitter.  But HUNDREDS of millions are not (at least yet).

    And they run HR departments, own small and medium size businesses, and makeup the VAST majority of the working population.

    Look, I said before that I think Twitter is an awesome and powerful platform, but it is not the end-all, be-all that is going to solve HR's pressing issues.  It is what it is.

    And right now it is about 3%.


    (Now hurry up Twitterfeed, and pick this up so it gets to Twitter so that someone will actually read this)



    HR Technology, Amtrak, and Priorities 

    Last week Amtrak announced it would spend $9.4 Million on HR Technology, specifically for what it is calling 'Employee Information Management'. Notably, the $9.4 Million is significantly more that will be spent on 'Customer facing' type initiatives like CRM and an improvements to the passenger information systems.

    Full details on the Amtrak projects can be found here.

    Of note in the article is how Amtrak feels its HR Technology is 7 to 10 years behind other similarly sized organizations, and that significant cost savings can be realized by the introduction of automated processes and the use of Employee and Manager Self-Service. A key component of the project is the E-learning portal to help define and deliver needed development content to the employee.

    It does beg the question of how did Amtrak allow the critical HR Information Systems to get so out of date and how can such a large organization still be so reliant on manual and paper-based HR processes to such an extent.

    I don't claim to know the inner workings of the Amtrak IT strategy, but since they are earmarking $9.4 Million for HR Technology, and only about $6 Million on the CRM and passenger systems combined, it does seem apparent that the HR systems have been neglected and underfunded.

    So it is good and refreshing to see such a significant investment on HR Tech, the key systems to help employees manage their infromation, learning and development, view competency information, and hopefully become more engaged and productive in their careers.

    Maybe Amtrak is finally seeing that a great CRM and a fantastic passenger information portal are not the only critical systems in an organization.  Because truly, it is the employees that have to serve the passengers, deliver excellent service, and make the crucial decisions to execute the strategy.

    And employees can't do any of those things at their best if they are busy filling out HR forms, waiting days for HR information, and chasing down data that should be readily available.

    So Cheers to Amtrak for making a commitment and investment in HR Technology and in their employees.



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