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    Entries in Technology (279)


    HRE Column: Thinking about HR Tech User Experience

    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 several vendor events I have recently attended, (Achievers, iCIMS, Kronos, Oracle). At each of these events, and I am pretty sure every other event I attended in 2015, HR technology companies talk A LOT about User Experience or UX.  Since the subject of UX comes up so often these days, on the latest Inside HR Tech column I offer some suggestions for HR leaders and pros on the right things to think about and questions to ask when assessing your HR technology provider's approach to and ability to deliver great User Experiences.

    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, 'Getting Your Arms Around the Experience':

    In almost every demonstration, someone from the provider organization talks about being focused on something called the "user experience" (aka "UX"). This term almost always follows the descriptor "great," so what I hear all the time from providers -- and you've probably heard it, as well, during a recent HR- software demo -- is, "We are focused on creating a great user experience." Literally every vendor says this exact same thing.

    The reason they all say this is that UX is actually really important. You probably realize this -- even if you are among those who have never heard the actual term before -- because you are making decisions and choices around technology at least partially based on UX. The apps you like to use on your phone, including those for email, weather, sports scores, shopping, listening to podcasts, etc. -- were likely chosen for two main reasons: One is based on the actual functionality of the app (aka, the "what"); and the second is based on the input methods, characteristics, work flow, design, look and interaction style of the app (aka, the "how").

    That how is the most significant part of the concept of UX.

    It is important to note, as well, that user experience is more than just colors, fonts and buttons. It encompasses a wide range of aspects and elements that define how users feel about the technology.

    So now that we have an idea of what the user experience consists of -- and that it is key when evaluating technology -- what are some of the questions that you should ask your current or prospective HR-technology solution providers when evaluating the UX of their solutions?

    Here are a few ideas. First, some questions about the organization itself:

    What does UX mean to your organization?

    This is mostly about getting solution providers to talk about UX generally and share their philosophies of the importance of UX to their organizations. It's also about trying to get a sense of their approaches in building their solutions. When they talk about their products and future road maps, how much time is spent on UX topics compared to basic functionality and capability? Essentially, you are trying to get an overall feel for, and comfort level with, the provider's commitment to UX.

    What is the title of the most-senior person in the organization who is dedicated to UX? How many staffers are on the UX team? Has that part of the development organization grown in the last two years?

    These questions are meant to help you dig a little deeper to see if the solution provider is backing up its stated commitment to UX with the proper investments and resources.

    Read the rest over at HRE Online...

    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 rake your leaves or dig your car out of the snow  for you if you do sign up for the monthly email.

    Have a great day and a great long, Thanksgiving weekend in the USA!


    ANNOUNCEMENT: The Citi Smarter Worklife Challenge

    I had a call last week with some really cool folks from Citigroup, often shortened to just Citi, one of the world's largest banking and financial services organizations. Even for such a large, well-known global brand, the challenges facing Citi are not that different from the ones facing just about every size or type of organization - the need to innovate, to become more agile in a fast-moving and competitive marketplace, and perhaps most importantly, to find, engage with, develop, inspire, and achieve great business performance through people.

    Citi describes this last element of improving outcomes with and through people in the context of the 'Employee Journey' - the full life cycle of actions and interactions that people have with the organization, with their colleagues, and crucially, with the many technologies that help shape these experiences along the journey.

    And one of the ways Citi has identified that will be of primary importance in improving their employee's journeys is through innovative HR and workplace technologies, which after learning more about what they are working on in that area I was interested and glad to help Citi get the word out about their new initiative called the Citi Smarter Worklife Challenge.

    The Citi Global Digital Acceleration team has created the Smarter Worklife Challenge, an open contest to help find and identify innovative human resources technologies designed to improve this Employee Journey. Citi is inviting both startup and established technology solution providers to submit their ideas and concepts, (submissions must be at least advanced, working prototypes), in the areas of recruiting, onboarding, career development, social/collaboration, analytics, executive management, and more, to compete for a prize of $50,000 in cash, and the opportunity to enter into commercial terms with Citi and be incubated and/or accelerated.

    For HR technology solution providers interested in applying for consideration for the Smarter Worklife Challenge, a few important dates you need to know: The deadline for submissions is December 4th, and finalists will be announced December 18th, and challenge finalists will be invited to demonstrate their solutions to Citi senior leadership in February 2016.

    Full details about the challenge, including submission timelines and contest rules can be found on the Smarter Worklife Challenge site. Also, a PDF version of the challenge process, timelines, and guidelines can be downloaded here

    I think this is a really neat and interesting challenge and thanks to the folks at Citi for bringing it to my attention and for supporting innovation in the HR tech marketplace. Please do share the information about the Smarter Worklife Challenge to any HR technology innovators that you think might be interested in participating.


    Disclaimer: I am sharing information about the Smarter Worklife Challenge because I like the idea, I am not being compensated in any way by Citi, and this challenge is not affiliated with the HR Technology Conference.


    When HR's 'Do not reply to this email' becomes a security issue





    We have all seen these kinds of messages in emails coming from organizations - retailers, mass marketers, maybe even from e-newsletters from big publishers like the New York Times or the Huffington Post.

    Mostly, we don't give these messages, and their admonitions to NOT REPLY all that much thought. Who wants or needs to reply to Target's daily e-mail reminder of the TREMENDOUS Black Friday deals that are upcoming anyway?

    But there is definitely at least one scenario where these DO NOT REPLY emails are used where they are much more likely to elicit an actual response from the recipient - in the context of job applications when the DO NOT REPLY emails are going out to candidates from an ATS or a recruiter.

    It is an extremely plausible scenario that an applicant would want to reply to an auto-generated message from the ATS to ask additional questions, to make sure that all the needed application materials were received, or to simply inquire about the current status of the application itself. And while the argument over whether, especially for large organizations that receive millions of applications each year, should or can be able to respond to every possible candidate email will continue to rage, one thing is for certain - you should NEVER do what it appears Chiplotle (the big restaurant chain) did.

    Details below, courtesy of the Krebs on Security blog:

    The restaurant chain Chipotle Mexican Grill seems pretty good at churning out huge numbers of huge burritos, but the company may need to revisit some basic corporate cybersecurity concepts. For starters, Chipotle’s human resources department has been replying to new job applicants using the domain “chipotlehr.com” — a Web site name that the company has never owned or controlled.

    Translation: Until last week, anyone could have read email destined for the company’s HR department just by registering the domain “chipotlehr.com”. Worse, Chipotle itself has inadvertently been pointing this out for months in emails to everyone who’s applied for a job via the company’s Web site.

    (Michael) Kohlman said after submitting his resume and application, he received an email fromChipotle Careers that bore the return address @chipotlehr.com. The Minnesota native said he became curious about the source of the Chipotle HR email when a reply sent to that address generated an error or “bounce” message saying his missive was undeliverable.

    “The canned response was very odd,” Kohlman said. “Rather than indicating the email didn’t exist, [the bounced message] just came back and said it could not resolve the DNS settings.”

    A quick search for ownership records on the domain showed that it had never before been registered. So, Kohlman said, on a whim he plunked down $30 to purchase it.

    The welcome message that one receives upon successfully submitting an application for a job at Chipotle discourages users from replying to the message. But Kohlman said a brief look at the incoming email associated with that domain revealed a steady stream of wayward emails to chipotlehr.com — mainly from job seekers and people seeking password assistance to the Chipotle HR portal.

    “In nutshell, everything that goes in email to this HR system could be grabbed, so the potential for someone to abuse this is huge,” said Kohlman. “As someone who has made a big chunk of their career defending against cyber-attackers, I’d rather see Chipotle and others learn from their mistakes rather than cause any real damage.”

    There is more to the story over at the Krebs site, including the official response from a Chipotle spokesperson claiming that the company did not see this as a problem at all, the the web domain www.chipotlehr.com was not a functional address and never has been. At least until Kohlman registered it recently. If you go to www.chipotlehr.com right now all you see is a blank page containing one sentence - "This is NOT the Chipotle Human Resources Page".

    Kind of a silly, sort of ridiculous story all around I think, but one that should make HR and Recruiting folks at least take a look at the specifics of the auto-generated messages they are sending out to candidates and applicants.

    I am not at all telling you that you shouldn't use 'DO NOT REPLY TO THIS MESSAGE' emails in your process, but if you do, just make sure you are not potentially exposing your applicant's data to unintended audiences.

    Maybe take 5 minutes today to have a quick call with your Admins or IT team about this. It is worth it for the peace of mind. 


    CHART OF THE DAY: In a world of infinite choice, we choose very little

    How many apps do you have installed on your smart phone? 50, 60, maybe more?

    How many TV channels does your cable or satellite TV subscription offer? A couple hundred, give or take?

    How many websites are there on the internet? Way, way too many to count I bet. Probably something in the order of tens of millions at least.

    So after thinking about those questions, let's ask another set of questions. How many apps, websites, and TV channels do you regularly use/visit/consume? What it the number of these apps, etc. that tend to dominate your time and attention?

    Take a look at the chart below, taken from a recent presentation given by business strategist Michael Wolf at a recent Wall St. Journal conference, for some insights into these questions, and then as you have come to demand, some FREE commentary from me after the data.

    Interesting data, let's unpack it a little here and see what it might mean for HR/Talent/anyone trying to get attention in a busy world. 

    The average person uses 27 apps in a month, but about 80% of that time is spent in only 5 apps. I will offer up my top 5 - Gmail, Twitter, Zite (a news aggregator), Feedly (an RSS feed reader), and The Score (a sports news and scores app). But whatever your Top 5 apps may be, chances are good they dominate your time on your phone to a significant extent.

    This same self-selected narrowing of almost endless choices also is seen with the general internet, and with TV content. We have tons of options, almost too many, yet we end up gravitating and focusing on those very few choices we seem to enjoy and identify with the most. And again, those lists are pretty small. 

    What should this data make us think about in more general terms as we try to pry precious attention and eyeballs towards our bright shiny new things?

    1. We choose very little, but the 'pie' is so big, even a tiny sliver is huge. With the continued growth of market penetration of smart phones, broadband connections, and wifi everywhere - more and more time is being spent online in all of its forms. Your app or website or internet show or podcast doesn't have to break into anyone's Top 5 to still be a huge success. You just have to identify, target, and create value for that small group that will be open and ready for your message. The HR Happy Hour Show that Trish McFarlane and I do is a great example of this. We may not be 'Serial', but we have a fantastic and growing audience of HR and HR tech fans and have built a really cool thing.

    2. Habits are really hard to change. You, me, everyone - we check the same 5 apps, the same 8 websites, watch the same 10 TV channels week after week after week. If you can't easily get folks to change their consumption habits then you have to find a way to better integrate with these habits. No one hates email more than me, but I still spend more time in email every day than I care to, and I still get plenty of news and information from this old habit. So it makes sense to focus at least some on getting your message better read in email or in one of the other 'Top' apps today (LinkedIn, Medium, Quora, Snapchat, etc.), instead of creating something brand new that requires users to adopt a new habit. 

    3. Don't 'break' things that are working. Once you have an audience, or a set of fans/followers etc., you have to be careful not to mess around or experiment too much all at one time. It is hard enough to initially earn the attention of the audience you seek, it is even harder to have to try and earn them a second time. As your audience grows you want to be sure you are growing along with them, but not leaving them behind if that makes sense. I'd like to run 'Ranked' posts every day, but if I did I am pretty sure I would drive away just about everyone who I have spent 7 or 8 years trying to connect with. But the occasional Tom Cruise or Ranked post is fine I think.

    No one has time for all the choices that are now available to us on our phones, the web, and our TVs. That doesn't mean there is not any room or any opportunity for something new to break through, it just means that the ideas that can break through are rarer than ever, and the people that can conjure up these ideas are more valuable than ever.

    Ok that's it, I am out. Go back to the sites/apps you really enjoy. 

    Have a great week!


    Revolutionary HR Tech: Part 4 - What does culture look like? - #HRevolution

    Note: For the rest of this week, (or longer if I can't manage to get it all done in time), I am going to run a short series of four posts inspired by a session at last weekend's HRevolution event in St. Louis that I facilitated along with the fantastic Mike Krupa. 

    In the session, we asked four teams of attendees to imagine, envision, describe, and articulate a new (or at least new to them), kind of revolutionary HR technology solution that would improve or enhance some aspect of HR, talent management, recruiting, strategy, etc.

    The teams were each given a context to work in that roughly correspond to the major sub-types of HR technology tools today: Administration, Talent Management, Culture/Brand, and finally Insight/Analytics. The teams came up with some really clever and thought-provoking ideas in a really short time, and I thought it would be fun to share them (as best as I can recall them), here and try to keep the HRevolution discussions on this topic moving forward. We will consolidate all 4 revolutionary HR tech ideas into one paper that we will post here and on theHRevolution site as well.

    Ok, let's hit the fourth and final HR tech idea - from the 'Culture' team, an idea for a new technology that I will call 'Culture is a Mirror'.

    'Culture is a Mirror.'

    That is the title/slogan/concept that the Culture team came up with when thinking about organizational culture, and what a revolutionary HR technology that could help the organization understand, define, and reinforce its culture would be based upon.

    Their idea was that culture exists as a reflection of what people do, what they say, how they interact with each other, (and the outside world), and only by holding up a proverbial mirror to these actions and interactions can we begin to assess and interpret an amorphous idea like 'culture'.

    So what might this kind of revolutionary tool, this 'mirror' for culture be able to do? Here are a few ideas, and my apologies to the 'Culture' team if I have left out (or invented) some of these:

    1. Scan/review internal communications for things like tone, language choices, emojis, exclamation points, used of ALL CAPS, etc. to take a measure of the nature of internal exchanges and how people 'talk' to one another

    2. Review existing 'culture' measurements against business performance and individual achievement. Things like engagement surveys, pulse surveys, participation in volunteer days, time and attendance trends, etc. The mirror would hold these measurements up in a way that allows the organization to compare if what it 'feels' about culture is actually reflected in actions and data. 

    3. Incorporate recruiting data and analytics (both internal and against peer companies), to reflect and compare whether or not the internal ideas and beliefs about culture are holding true when viewed through and external lens. It seems like often what the organization believes about its own culture does not always hold up, or at least fails to get completely and properly communicated to candidates and the public. The Culture Mirror tool would present the organization a way to compare these perceptions about culture, and make recommendations to take remedial actions as needed.

    4. Finally, and perhaps the most interesting idea that the 'Culture' team came up with, the Culture Mirror tool would be highly visual, using a Pinterest or Instagram-like design and interface to help 'show' these ideas around culture, perception of culture, and what the 'mirror' sees when examining all the factors that combine to create culture. Are people smiling at work? Are they dressing in bright colors, or all in black? Do they seem happy when they walk in to the office, or are they trudging along, staring at the floor? The Culture team wants a technology that brings the idea of culture to life, in a highly visual way.

    What do you think? Sound wild? I love the idea.

    Actually, I love all four ideas that came out of the 'Building Revolutionary HR Tech' session. It is amazing what can happen when smart, engaged, and interesting people can do when there are very few limits to what they can imagine.

    Thanks again to everyone who participated in the session - it was loads of fun for me too!

    Final note: Big, big thanks to our HRevolution 2015 sponsors - GloboforceQuantum Workplace, and The Arland Group