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    Entries in Technology (215)

    Wednesday
    Aug272014

    The Gamers are Taking Over the World

    The Video Gamers that is...

    Five quick links that hopefully will get you thinking just a little bit differently or more broadly about the role and value that video games, particularly multi-player online games are having in society, and ultimately workplaces.

    First the big news from earlier in the week:

    Amazon to buy video game broadcasting site Twitch for $970M (CNNMoney)

    Amazon agreed on Monday to pay $970 million to acquire Twitch, a service that lets users watch and broadcast video game play. Each month millions of people tune into Twitch to watch friends and strangers play video games, including competitive tournaments.

    An acquisition by Amazon and the lofty price tag would seem to validate the rise of gaming as a spectator sport. Advertisers are often willing to spend top dollar to reach audiences lured by live sporting events.

    "Broadcasting and watching gameplay is a global phenomenon and Twitch has built a platform that brings together tens of millions of people who watch billions of minutes of games each month," Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement.

    Just how popular are video game tournaments, not just online but as big-time events?

    League of Legends eSports Finals Watched by 32 Million People (The Verge)

    Riot Games has claimed that its largest eSports event yet, the League of LegendsSeason 3 World Championship broadcast over Twitch livestream on October 4th, was watched by 32 million people, 8.5 million of whom were watching at the same time. The numbers shatter previous records for eSports viewership, and show that video game streams can rival TV in terms of scale and reach.

    But is anyone, besides the big medial companies, actually making eSports an actual, you know, career?

    The Highest-paid Professional Gamers in the World (Business Insider) 

    Playing video games for a living is the dream of pretty much every adolescent male at one point or another. Believe it or not, there are gamers who are doing exactly that. And they're making some serious money. e-Sports Earnings has ranked the 100 players with the highest overall earnings from competitive gaming. Over 60 gamers have earned over $100,000 in prize money. To top it off, that's not even counting the sponsorship deals and income that many of these players receive from streaming their practice games on services like Twitch.

    Well, so what really? And this is a (mostly) HR/Talent/HR Tech blog, so why are we visiting video games again?

    Should You Put World of Warcraft on Your Resume? (HBR)

    The cognitive and social skills demanded in complex multiplayer games can be every bit as subtle, sophisticated and challenging as stud poker or bridge. Indeed, I know Silicon Valley and (admittedly younger) hedge fund quant teams who bond and boost morale through their Minecraft bouts. I may not fully understand the details of what they’re doing but there’s no doubt that these interactions are building relationships as well as protective structures. These teams —and the organizations that employ them—would likely welcome colleagues and candidates with authentic video-game passion and talent. Trust me, these folks will not be golfing at Torrey Pines.

    And one more, just to offer a hint or two at where things might be heading. And note, while typing this post up I had on some sports talk radio on in the background where the hosts just spent 10 minutes talking about the latest NFL suspension levied upon a player for launching his body/helmet missile-like at a defenseless opponent.

    Gladwell: Why College Football is Like Dog Fighting (CNN)

    In what way is dog fighting any different from football on a certain level, right? I mean you take a young, vulnerable dog who was made vulnerable because of his allegiance to the owner and you ask him to engage in serious sustained physical combat with another dog under the control of another owner, right?

    Well, what's football? We take young boys, essentially, and we have them repeatedly, over the course of the season, smash each other in the head, with known neurological consequences. And why do they do that? Out of an allegiance to their owners and their coaches and a feeling they're participating in some grand American spectacle. They're the same thing. And the idea that as a culture we would be absolutely quick and sure about coming to the moral boiling point over the notion that you would do this to dogs and yet completely blind to the notion you would do this to young men is, to my mind, astonishing. I mean there's a certain point where I just said, you know, we have to say enough is enough.

    Steve here - You were probably surprised a little bit on Monday when you heard about Amazon dropping just shy of $1B on a video game streaming site called Twitch. And if you were surprised that is ok, for now anyway. 

    But I think as a progressive HR and Talent professional you probably need to become more familiar and comfortable with thinking about games and gamers a little bit differently.

    Video games are everywhere. They are mainstream. And more and more people are going to walk into your office and want to talk about the success they have had leading teams in GTAIV or World of Warcraft and hopefully you will get what they are talking about, just like you inherently understand and value 'real' sports backgrounds and success.

    Happy Wednesday.

    Tuesday
    Aug192014

    WEBINAR: The 1st Timer's Guide to Buying HR Technology

    Buying HR Technology (System of Record/HRMS, Applicant Tracking Systems, Performance Management Systems, Recruiting solutions, etc.) should be as easy as buying a high-priced handbag or the latest pair of Jordans! Or Puma Clydes, since I am more of a Knicks fan.

    You see it. You like it. You know it’s going to fit and work for your needs. GO! Make the purchase. But it’s not that simple. Buying HR Technology is hard, confusing and frustrating.  A miss can potentially stall your career and undermine your credibility.

    But fear not, gentle readers, your pals over at Fistful of Talent are here to help, with the latest installment of the popular (and FREE), FOT Webinar series with Buyer’s Remorse: The FOT 1st Timer’s Guide to Buying HR Technology, set for August 28 at 12pm ET and which is designed to help the HR pro navigagte the sometimes tricky waters of the HR technology market and buying process. I will be on the webinar, joined by FOT's Tim Sackett to break it all down in classic FOT-style.

    So plan to join Tim and I on August 28 at 12pm ET and we'll hit you with the following

     

    1. The Difference between a Suite or a Best-of-Breed Product: Why you should care? Which one is right for you to buy? We'll break it down based on your unique needs.

     

    2. The Decision Tree/Process That Helps You Arrive at the Right Decision Regarding Which Solution to Buy. Yes, we can tell you exactly what to buy! But we won’t, because great HR Pros need to understand how to make these decisions. But don’t worry---we’ll show you how!

     

    3. Six Tips and Tricks the HR Vendor Community Uses to Get You To Buy Their Product---which might not be the product you actually need. Learn how to make sure you don’t succumb to these tactics when making your next buying decision.  This section alone will ensure you take control of your next buy like a pro!

     

    4. The Secret for Getting Your Organization to Invest in HR tech and How to Build ROI for your Executive Team. Every buying decision comes down to the why and ROI, and your ability to persuasively and concisely get your organization to support your recommendation.  Sometimes the hardest part of an HR Tech buy is your ability to get approval to buy!

     

    Bonus Feature: CEO Ben Peterson, from BambooHR (an HR solution specifically designed for small-to-medium-sized HR departments), will stop by and do a quick Q&A with Tim and Steve to discuss the biggest mistakes he sees HR buyers make when making HR Tech purchases... and how to avoid making those same mistakes yourself!

     

    Things that are hard:  Riding a bike on a freeway. Getting your kids to eat peas. Buying HR Tech. Join us on August 28 at 12pm ET for "Buyer’s Remorse: The FOT 1st Timer’s Guide to Buying HR Technology," and we'll make buying HR Tech easier. You're on your own with the other two.

     

    Please join Tim and I on August 28, I promise, as always, 60% of the time our advice works every time!

     

    REGISTER HERE:
    Wednesday
    Aug062014

    In a same-day delivery world, does waiting two weeks to get paid make sense?

    I am a big fan of Amazon Prime and its subsidiary Zappos which take a very similar approach to package delivery. On either Amazon or Zappos, one or two clicks to find the item you want, one click to order, (at least for Amazon), and boom - a day or at the most two days later the goods are at the door.

    But even next day delivery isn't going to be good enough for these eCommerce leaders, the game is moving towards same-day delivery, at least for the larger markets. Whether these same-day deliveries will be facilitated by the usual shipping companies like FedEx and UPS, managed via centralized drop-off/pick-up locations and lockers, or even executed by Jeff Bezos' armada of flying drones, one thing is for certain - consumers are going to receive (and demand) goods even faster than ever before.

    And it is not just package delivery where consumers expectations for speed are increasing. Who wants to wait 7-10 business days for concert or sports tickets to be printed and mailed? We just have a code on our iPhones scanned at the turnstile. Don't want to walk tediously through the aisles of the grocery store? Fire up an app, make a few selections, (or just tap 'Send me my usual order') and an hour or so later you are swimming in Ritz crackers, Campbell's soup, and Mountain Dew. Heck, even the drive-through at the Starbucks is not enough of a time saver, soon the Starbucks app and some GPS location chicanery will have your order waiting for you the instant you pull in to the lot, (and it will be paid for too).

    I could go on and on like this, but you know the point - technology is making it possible to deliver goods and services and experiences of every type faster and faster - to the point where many of them are almost now 'on-demand' and in almost real time. And that is what we, the consumer, wants and demands. 

    While these trends are influencing all manner of enterprise and business technologies, call them consumerization of IT if you like, one area where the 'instant access' kind of paradigm has not really made any headway in HR tech is in the area of payroll - specifically in hourly payroll where most workers have to wait days if not weeks to actually get paid for the hours they have worked. 

    The main reason is the typical corporate payroll cycle for hourly workers - most often paid on a bi-weekly basis, one week or so after the two-week reporting period concludes. Hours logged on the first day of a cycle might not actually show up in a paycheck for something like 18 or 19 days. And that is kind of a drag for workers that might be living paycheck-to-paycheck to make ends meet. This kind of problem, workers having financial obligations that do not usually wait for the corporate payroll cycle to complete has led to the rise of the Payday loan indusry, where people can get loans/advances on their paychecks from third-parties, usually at ridiculously high interest rates. Workers do get early access to their pay, but at such a high cost that for many it just starts a cycle of debt and fees.

    A new startup called ActiveHours is attempting to end the need for these kind nasty Payday lending practices with a platform modeled after a simple principle: Employees are entitled to the pay for the hours they have worked immediately after those hours are recorded. Here's how it works from a recent review in TechCrunch:

    The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company has come up with a radical new way to charge for its mobile payment service that flips the lending model on its head. Activehours is selling a service that lets its customers get paid for the hours they work, without charging any interest on the payments that its clients receive. Users simply take a picture of their time sheet and specify how much money they would like to get paid from their earnings up to that point in the pay cycle.

    The service means hourly workers can get paid as they go, enabling them to spend their wages however and whenever they see fit. Activehours only receives a service charge which is determined by the user themselves. The company has no set fees, nor does it charge interest on the money it disburses to customers.

    Pretty simple, and kind of radical too. Employees take a picture of their time sheet, get verified by ActiveHours, then get essentially a free draw on their bi-weekly net pay at any time during the pay cycle, without have to pay the exorbitant kinds of fees and rates that the Payday lenders have typically demanded.

    ActiveHours only gets paid through user-decided service charges, (a model while extremely worker-friendy, is certainly not sustainable, but still), and the employees can get at their earnings as they work, not only after some corporate-payroll calendar tells them they can.

    Here is the money quote from ActiveHours founder Ram Palaniappan:

    “Every year, more than $1 trillion of hourly pay is held back for two weeks because of the way pay cycles work today. Yet, more than half of hourly workers in the U.S. live paycheck-to-paycheck or borrow money to stay afloat,” said Ram Palaniappan, Activehours founder in a statement. “It doesn’t make sense to incur overdraft fees or take out payday loans when your workplace owes you money. If you work everyday, why can’t you get your pay every day?”

    Kind of a good question, and one that ActiveHours is setting about trying to answer. 

    Note: I have never talked with anyone at ActiveHours and this is not a sponsored post in any way, I just think it is a cool idea.

    Wednesday
    Jul302014

    Some #HRTechConf Conversation and a Discount Expiration Warning

    Note: The rest of this post is entirely about the HR Technology Conference coming up in October and is pretty much 100% self-serving, so if you are not really in to HR Tech, or Conferences, or helping me out, then you can drop off now and check back tomorrow.

    First, I had a chance to guest on Bill Kutik's Radio Show to talk about the upcoming HR Technology Conference, to share some of what I felt like were the important changes in the event this year and highlight just a few of the sessions and other aspects of the Conference that I am particularly excited about. You can listen to the replay of that conversation here, (about 25 minutes or so, and it moves really fast, trust me). Thanks to Bill for having me on the show to promote (shamelessly, much like I am doing here), the event.

    Next, coming up really soon, at midnight EDT on August 4th, (that is next Monday!), several HR Technology Conference discount registration codes are set to expire, and essentially if you elect to buy your Conference ticket after August 4, you will have paid a little bit more than you could have. And that is kind of a drag and also is not what I want either. So if you have been contemplating attending HR Tech in October and have not registered as yet, I urge you to do so before 8/4.

    The very best generally available discount code that you can use before the 8/4 deadline is TW14 (case sensitive), and provides $600 off the on site rate of $1,945 for a net price to you of $1,345.

    If you miss the 8/4 cutoff (Shame!), then use the next best thing, the discount code for listeners and fans of the HR Happy Hour Show and podcast that I do with Trish McFarlane. That code is HHH14 (case sensitive), and gives you a $550 discount from the on site rate, so your net cost is $1,395. Still pretty good and for procrastinators the best part is the HHH14 code does not expire.

    The conference's home page is here, where you can find links to the agenda, detailed session descriptions, the list of exhibiting companies at the sold-out Expo, and of course the registration page as well.

    Thanks for indulging me in this little commercial, I do hope to see lots of blog readers out at HR Tech in October and I definitely don't want you to pay more than you have to in order to attend what is shaping up to be a great conference.

    Friday
    Jul252014

    REPRISE: PowerPoint for the iPad? Well that's no fun.

    Note: Caught a really interesting article this week on the Unofficial Apple Weblog, titled Microsoft still doesn't get why the iPhone succeeded, which breaks down Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's recent manifesto memo to MSFT employees regarding the tech giant's strategy and direction. Essentially, the author contends that Nadella's focus and emphasis on the device (smartphone, tablet, whatever is coming next, etc.), as a 'work' or productivity device misses the entire reason why people originally flocked to the iPhone and iPad in the first place. Here is a snippet from the piece:

    Consumers primarily buy mobile devices that make their lives easier and more fun, work be damned. Microsoft Office wasn't available on the iPhone until June of 2013. An iPad version wasn't released until four months ago! And guess what, hundreds of millions of consumers bought iPhones and iPads anyhow.

    The longer Microsoft continues to focus on the alleged allure of productivity software, the more it runs the risk of falling into the same trap as RIM, which remained so beholden to the notion of physical keyboards that it completely ignored the mass market to placate its beloved enterprise users. Just as RIM mistakenly believed that physical keyboards could fend off the growing popularity of the iPhone, Microsoft seems to believe that the abstract notion of "productivity" will help them garner more marketshare.

    The underlying problem with this train of thought is that it ignores the fact that the iPhone helped usher in the consumerization of IT, the dynamic where individuals themselves are able to influence the type of mobile devices supported in their work environment.

    ------------------------------------------------------

    Steve here- The entire piece kind of read and felt familiar to me, and a quick look back at the archives here revealed I had kind of written a similar piece back in February of 2012, when early rumors of MS PowerPoint being ported out to the iPad first started making the rounds.  So since it is sometimes fun to look back, and because I think the gist of the argument I made in 2012 still applies today, here is that piece from 2012 in all it's majesty:

     

    PowerPoint for the iPad? Well that's no fun.

    Lots of chatter in the tech news and blogosphere this week about the possible launch of an iPad version of Microsoft Office.  First the news of the Office for iPad was broken by The Daily, denied, (kind of), by Microsoft, examined in more detail by ZDNet, then reconfirmed on Twitter by a staff member at The Daily. And I am sure there were lots of other takes on the potential release of Office for the iPad, most of which making it seem like it is not a question of if Microsoft will release the iPad version of Office, but rather when the apps will be released.Source - The Daily

    So based on the evidence, and the sort of non-denial denial from Microsoft, let's assume that indeed in the 'coming weeks' there will be a release of MS Office for the iPad. Most of the accounts about this possible new Office version herald this development as a positive one, both for Microsoft, essentially absent to this point in the rapid rise of the tablet ecosystem, and also for the millions of iPad users that now can become 'more productive' now that the ubiquitous Office suite will have a native iPad version.

    But for me, I have to admit I don't feel all that excited about having Excel, Word, or PowerPoint on the iPad. Even assuming that the iPad versions of these workplace stalwarts manage to leverage the best capabilities and usability features that the iPad offers, you are still crunching spreadsheets, writing (boring) documents, and futzing around with another PowerPoint. You know, working. And work, sadly, is often not much fun. And perhaps through no fault of their own, Excel and PowerPoint take a lot of reflected shrapnel for that if you get my meaning.

    People love their iPads because they are fun, (assuming you can mentally set aside how they are actually manufactured, but that is another story), they provide an amazing user experience, and mostly what you do with them either isn't work, or doesn't feel like work. It just seems cool, hip, easy. Not words we often associate with work. Especially when work takes the form of spreadsheets and slide decks.

    So when MS Office for the iPad comes out will I rush to load it up? Probably not. But I imagine I will eventually succumb, as the allure and utility of being able to tweak that presentation file on the iPad when sitting in the airport will prove too tempting and seem too necessary. It's work right? Need to get 'er done whenever and wherever.

    I just hope I won't have to drop Angry Birds to make room for Excel. Because that would really stink. 

    Have a great weekend!