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    Entries in HR Tech (265)

    Tuesday
    Jan092018

    What comes after the smartphone?

    Today, January 9, 2018, marks the 11th anniversary of the launch of the original iPhone, when back on January 9, 2007 the late Steve Jobs introduced the world to the gadget that would change personal, workplace, and social technology profoundly.

    Even a decade plus later, the smartphone remains the dominant personal tech innovation of its time, with legions of users lining up on new model launch days to get their hands on the latest versions of their favorite new phone. Data below from IDC estimates over 460M new smartphones were shipped worldwide in 2016, (the latest full year data I could locate in 4 minutes of exhaustive research).

    But just like any other successful technology, the smartphone can't (probably) remain the dominant device for personal technology, communication, and productivity forever, right?

    Think about it - we don't carry around Palm Pilot PDAs, pagers, or Blackberry devices any more, (sorry Canadidan readers). There was a time, believe it or not, when those devices (and others), seemed just as important, even essential to our daily lives and our work.

    So it is likely to be the case with the smartphone too.

    Something will come next and while this something may not (at least right away) replace the smartphone, it is likely, based on the history of technology, that this 'next' thing will start to chip away at the foothold that smartphone has over lives.

    The annual Consumer Electronics Show has been going on this week in Las Vegas - the event where all the biggest providers of all forms of consumer technology (phones, appliances, robots, even cars at this stage), showcase their latest product innovations, make new product launch announcements, and generally share their vision of where consumer technology is going.

    If we are looking for insight what might come after the smartphone, CES presents a decent place to begin that research. And what has been the dominant theme of this year's CES so far (and what have I written about here at least twice already this year?)

    Here's a quote from Steve Koenig, Senior Director of Market Reserch for the Consumer Technology Association:

    "Coming out of CES, we're going to clearly have established that voice is going to be the go-to user interface," said Steve Koenig, senior director of market research for the Consumer Technology Association. "Wherever we go or whatever we're doing, we're going to have some form of digital assistant at our side ready to help us."

    Amazon, Google, and pretty much every technology supplier that matters is thinking about what comes next and is chasing the next breakthrough innovation that will be as disruptive as the smartphone. If I had to bet right now, I would say the always-on, ubiquitous, and mostly voice-activated digital assistant and the ecosystem behind that assistant seems like the best bet to become that breakthrough.

    It will be interesting to watch for sure.

     

    Monday
    Jan082018

    SAVED FOR LATER: A word about words - the ones your use in your public job listings

    Since no one asked, a quick word about the process I have used for ages to find/save ideas for blog topics.

    I use Feedly, (while pouring one out for the late, great Google Reader), to subscribe to about 400 news and information sources on topics like tech, HR, news, pop culture, sports, and more for two main reasons. One, to try and keep up to date and informed about what is going on the world, country, and in the HR/workplace/HR tech space. And two, to leverage Feedly's 'Read Later' funciton  to effectively bookmark or save posts and articles that might be used as sources or inspiration for future posts.

    Inevitably, I save many, many more articles than become posts, (or topics on the HR Happy Hour Show). So sometimes, usually on the weekend, I page and scroll back through some 'Saved for Later' pieces that I didn't actually cover or discuss anywhere in order to make sure that there wasn't something really interesting that should have been covered but for some reason was not.  And there are plenty of these kinds of pieces for sure. So in 2018 I am going to try to do a little better about surfacing these topics, even if it is a little 'late' or if it seems the news cycle has passed. So here we go...

    From a few weeks ago, in something you may have caught, perhaps not, the HR Tech company Textio (who we featured at the 2017 HR Technology Conference), published a really interesting post titled '1000 different people, the same words', which shared the results from text analysis of over 25,000 public job postings from 10 well-known tech companies. The purpose of the analysis was to determine both the most common words and phrases used within a company's job postings, as well as assess how much more or less frequently these words and phrases appear compared to peer companies and a general baseline. Finally, Textio also examined the impact of these words and phrases in terms of how they drove differences in the expected number of male and female applicants. Take a look at a summary of the data below, then a couple of quick comments from me.

    It is pretty amazing and instructive what this fairly simple but still pretty profound text analysis suggests, (and possibly reveals), about the cultures, norms, and expectations that these companies have for their employees based on the words they use/overuse in their job postings.

    The words and phrases are also kind of reinforcing too, of the ideas we the public and job applicants likely have of these companies, based on what we know about them from the news and their reputations.

    The words that appear often in Amazon and Uber job postings like 'maniacal' and 'whatever it takes' are probably not surprising given what we know and have heard about these companies approach to work, business, competition, and performance.

    Likewise, Slack's use of 'lasting relationships' and Twitter's use of the phrase 'diverse perspectives' also pretty accurately reflect at least some elements of both of these company's ethos.

    This is really interesting, and I think important. The language that an organization uses in their communications, especially their public-facing kinds of communications say more about what they truly are about than any formal, stilted, and focus grouped to death mission or vision.

    It is a really good idea to make sure that the words, phrases, tone and manner with which your message is being carried to those who may not know (or have experience with) what you organization is really all about be true to what you believe (or aspire) it to be.

    Textio is doing some really interesting and important work in this area, thanks to them for sharing this data.

    Happy Monday - have a great week! 

    Wednesday
    Jan032018

    Five things I think I think, year-begin 2018 edition

    Kicking off 2018 with five quick observations, (not predictions), about HR, work, tech, basketball, or whatever comes to mind in the 27 minutes I have allotted to complete this more or less first post of 2018.

    1. Workplace- In the 'year-end 5 things post' last week, I mentioned the situations involving Matt Lauer and Harvey Weinstein (among others). Over the New Year's break I saw that a high-profile college football coach, (Rich Rodriguez from University of Arizona), was fired due at least in part to allegations of inappropriate behavior. To me, now the question isn't 'If' these kinds of situations are going to show up in your industry or your organization, but 'when' will they emerge. Besides the obvious succession planning angle that I mentioned last week, there probably needs to be a serious review of how the organization can emerge, change, and grow from these situations in order to have a reasonable shot at retaining the kinds of good people that don't want to be associated with a tarnished brand, and to attract the ones you need to keep the machines running in 2018. This issue could get bad enough in some organization that it becomes a tangible risk to recruiting, branding, and retention.

    2. HR and HR Tech- I am going let go, (for the time being), of my recent 'Voice interfaces are the next disruption' take, although I really believe it to be the case, to mention the other 2018 buzzword - Artificial Intelligence. Just this morning I caught this piece - China is reportedly building a $2 Billion AI park as it looks to become a world leader in the field. The race for AI technologies, talent, and investments are not just going to occur on a company-to-company level, they are going to become national-level initiatives. China and Russia both think the key to future global power, influence, and wealth lay in 'winning' the AI contest. How these macro/global projects will eventually impact and filter down to 'normal' workplaces is still a little unclear, but I think it is safe to say these impacts are probably being underestimated. Five years ago every HR Tech company tossed the word 'social' into its product pitch. In 2018 AI is the new social.

    3. Email- In 2018, I vow not to read email on my phone, before I get out of bed. I am pretty sure email is the absolute worst way to begin a day. But I also vow to get better at keeping up with my email in 2018. I did do the 'email bankruptcy' thing on January 1 though, by marking everything as read. If you send me an email in 2017 and did not hear back, you probably should re-send if you need a reply.

    4. HR Happy Hour- I don't have too much to add to the what I posted last week about the HR Happy Hour Show but I will mention two things. One, the first show of 2018 posted yesterday - great conversation with Derek Belch from STRIVRabout how companies as diverse as Walmart and Stanford University's football team are incorporating VR technology for training and development. You can listen to that show hereor on your favorite podcast app. And two, we are open to working with new podcast sponsors in 2018, if you or your organization is interested in becoming an HR Happy Hour Podcast sponsor, please contact me at steve@h3hr.com.

    5. SMB - Not sure if anyone cares, but since I am more or less off of Facebook and Instagram, (no one cares about that I am sure), but I did have a great holiday break highlighted by a trip to the Tampa, Florida area where I watched my South Carolina Gamecocks defeat the University of Michigan 26-19 in the Outback Bowl. Great trip, great time, awesome experience. I had not been to a college football game in a long time, and the game brought back all that I used to enjoy about attending games at Williams-Brice Stadium in Carolina. Here's a health, Carolina, forever to thee.

    That's it, I am out - I hope you have a fantastic 2018!

    Tuesday
    Jan022018

    PODCAST: #HRHappyHour 308 - How Virtual Reality Will Change Workplace Training in 2018

    HR Happy Hour 308 - How Virtual Reality Will Change Workplace Training in 2018

    Host: Steve Boese

    Guest: Derek Belch, CEO & Founder, STRIVR

    Listen to the show HERE

    This week on the HR Happy Hour Show, Steve is joined by Derek Belch, Founder and CEO of STRIVR, a Palo Alto firm that uses innovative Virtual Reality technology for workplace training and improved performance.

    On the show Derek explained the key concepts of Virtual Reality, how it differs from Augmented Reality, and provided a framework for HR and workplace leaders to understand VR, and how it can be deployed in workplace and workforce training and learning contexts. 

    He also shared the story of his company STRIVR, from their beginnings working with collegiate football programs as well as other professional teams, to some of their current work on the corporate training and development space, including their massive partnership with Walmart,

    Derek did a great job of explaining VR, how the technology works, how it applies to training, the particular training scenarios where VR makes a great fit, and how HR and training organizations can get started with incorporating VR technologies into their training and development portfolios.

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

    This was a really interesting and enlightening conversation - thanks to Derek for joining us.

    Learn more about STRIVR at www.strivr.com.

    Subscribe to the HR Happy Hour Show on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, or wherever you get your podcasts - just search for 'HR Happy Hour'.

    Wednesday
    Dec272017

    An example of how 'good' user experience changes over time

    Quick shot for a 'I'm not really working but not quite on vacation either' Wednesday.

    Like many folks, I am dabbling with some new technology over the holidays and after messing around with a newly acquired device, the Amazon Fire Stick, (for those not familiar, the Fire Stick is a small device that plugs in to a TV's HDMI port to enable streaming content like Netflix, SlingTV, and my favorite, the NBA League Pass App).

    It's a cool, inexpensive, and highly capable little piece of tech. I do believe I am just days away from cutting the cable cord for good. It is really just the phone call I have to make that I am dreading at this point.

    But as I was setting up the Fire Stick, I couldn't help but notice the size, setup, and UX elements of the Amazon remote. Take a look at the pic below. The remote on the left is my current Spectrum Cable TV remote, and on the right, the Fire Stick remote.

    In case you're scoring at home, the Spectrum reomote has 59 buttons and is easily over twice the size and weight as the Fire Stick remote, which has a total of 7 buttons and a kind of tactile navigation wheel.

    Three quick observations on these two remotes, and what we might be able to apply to our own work and workplace tech decisions from thinking about how UX and tech expectations change over time.

    1. What we consider 'good' in terms of design and UX is a fluid, changing thing. The first time I got a hold of the Spectrum remote I am sure I was excited, happy, if a bit overwhelmed with all the functions. This remote could do 'everything' and I am sure I thought that the tradeoff in size, complexity, usability in order to do everything was worth it. Sure, most of the buttons are really tiny, are jammed too close together, but that's the price of a super-powered piece of tech. Eventually, you figure it out.

    2. The most important of the seven buttons on the Fire Stick remote is the little one at the top of the device with the microphone image. It's used for the remote voice command capabilities akin to how one issues commands to Amazon Alexa enabled devices. Think, 'Alexa, open Netflix'. Or 'Alexa, fast-forward three minutes'. Or, 'Alexa, play The Real Housewives of New Jersey' (that last may or may not have been the one I tested for this piece).

    I recently wrote about Alexa here on the blog, so I won't repeat all those takes again, but with Amazon reporting that the single most popular item on Amazon.com this holiday shopping season was its Echo Dotdevice, it seems certain that tens of millions of US households will be experimenting, learning, and becoming familiar with the power of voice-activated tech in 2018. These tens of millions of folks are also your employees, using your workplace tools and tech, and will begin to press for more and better voice capable tech at work. No doubt.

    3. Probably the obvious take on these two devices, their design, and how they make the user feel, but here it is. More is not better with UX and with tech in general. Better is better. I know the tendency, especially with workplace technology is to continue to add features, functions, processes, and in our example, buttons to the solution in order to cast the widest possible net. Tech providers are guilty of this, but so are organizations that issue 846 page RFPs for a Performance Management solution evaluation. And so many of the tech providers respond, especially for a large, Fortune 100 size customer, to add whatever features and functions that the customer claims they 'need'. This cycle spins and repeats over time, and that is how you end up with the 59 button Spectrum remote. Let's hope in 2018 both providers and customers alike will think a little harder about what they really need to get done, how their tools should support them and not overwhelm them, and provide employees with the simplest solutions possible that enable their success at work.

    Happy holiday week. Hope you are staying warm!