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    Discovering the Next Great HR Technology Company

    Quick break from the normal fare to give a quick update and share some information about the upcoming HR Technology Conference that will be held October 4 - 7, 2016 in Chicago.

    For several years at the Conference we have presented an "Awesome New Startups for HR" session that has featured many of the most innovative and exciting new HR technology startups that have emerged in the last few years - many of whom have gone on to even bigger and better things since they "launched" at the show.

    This has always been a fantastic session and one of the highlights of the Conference, but in the planning process for this year's event, we thought about how to make the "Awesome" session even more awesome. I will skip all the bad ideas and just get to the great one we landed upon - let's make the "Awesome New" session a little bit more like reality TV - in our case the show "The Voice".

    If you are not familiar with "The Voice" the primary feature that distinguishes it from other reality talent shows is that a panel of expert coaches guide and champion the talent that is vying for the crown. These coaches on the TV show are experts and stars in their own right, and their insight and advice helps the contestants to not only compete on the show, but will help them in the future as well. It is not every day that an unknown singer gets some personal coaching from an established star.

    So what we are going to do this year at HR Tech is borrow from the main concept of "The Voice" and morph the "Awesome Startups" idea into something we are calling "Discovering the Next Great Technology Company", that will take some of these concepts and bring them to the event in Chicago.

    To do that, I am partnering with my own team of HR and HR Technology experts - Jason Averbook, Trish McFarlane, Madeline Laurano, George LaRocque, and Kyle Lagunas who will help find, coach, and determine the 'Next Great Technology Company' that will win that illustrious title at the Conference in October. More details on this amazing session are coming soon, but there is one bit of information that I want to communicate right away - the process and information for HR technology startups to apply to be considered for this honor.

    Here are the important details:

    HR Tech startups can submit to be considered and get more information at:


    One that page you will find instructions, information, and the link to the application forms. There is no charge to apply, but the deadline is coming up fast, so interested HR technology providers should not hesitate in applying.

    And one last note, because I know I am going to be asked - the "Awesome New Technology" session at the Conference for larger, established HR tech companies will once again be held at the event, and it uses the same application form at the same link as above. We have not, (this year anyway), given that session the reality TV make over just yet.

    Thanks for your indulgence on this, and please do share the post and the link to apply to these sessions with any innovative HR tech company you know.


    PODCAST - #HRHappyHour 249 - HireVue, Digital Disruption, and the Big Lies in HR

    HR Happy Hour 249 - HireVue, Digital Disruption, and the Big Lies in HR

    Recorded LIVE at HireVue Digital Disruption 2016, Park City, Utah

    Hosts: Steve BoeseTrish McFarlane

    Guest: Mark Newman, Founder & CEO, HireVue


    This week on the HR Happy Hour Show, Steve was joined by Mark Newman, Founder & CEO of HireVue, the leading technology provider of video-based technology solutions for talent acquisition, assessment, and talent analytics. HireVue essentially created the category of 'video interviewing', but now are much more than just that, with new technology on assessments, coaching, and deep learning now a part of the overall talent platform. On the show Mark shares the larger HireVue story and then talks about the three 'Big Lies' in HR and Talent - one, We NEED more candidates;, two, Millennials don't want long careers with any one company;, and three, The War for Talent is back on.

    Mark shared some great ideas on how organizations can avoid getting trapped by these 'big lies' and how technology plays a role in managing these challenges.

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

    This was a fun, and really interesting conversations with one of the most interesting technology leaders in the HR tech space.

    Many thanks to HireVue for having the HR Happy Hour at Digital Disruption this year.

    And also thanks to our sponsor Virgin Pulse, learn more about them at www.virginpulse.com.

    Remember to subscribe to the HR Happy Hour show on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, or any podcast app - just search for 'HR Happy Hour' to never miss a show!


    The obligatory Microsoft - LinkedIn take

    If you regularly write or otherwise opine about technology, HR, HR tech, recruiting, or pretty much anything to do with enterprise technology, then Al Gore and the rest of the creators of the internet have decreed that you must have some kind of a take, any kind at all really, about this week's big news of Microsoft announcing its plans to acquire LinkedIn for $26B large.

    So while EVERYONE else has probably weighed in on this a couple of days ago and the immediate window for 'newsy' analysis is past, I am going to direct my take in a slightly different direction.

    Aside - before getting to my point I just have to laugh (once again), at all the experts and analysts and pundits who within hours of this announcement somehow were able to crank out 1,000 words explaining to the rest of us what this news really meant. No one, I mean NO ONE, was thinking about Microsoft making this move before it was announced, then to suddenly act as if you have it all worked out within an hour is laughable. And also a little insulting. And like this take, everyone will forget what you wrote after the fact. Tell us it's going to happen BEFORE it happens sometime and you will impress us. All of us can wax profound after the fact. Ok, rant over.

    There was one slide in the official Microsoft public presentation and announcement on Monday that really caught my attention and that of all of this, might be the most interesting aspect of this deal in the coming years. Here's the slide from MSFT, then some free-range, organic, farm-raised comments from me.

    Since the quality of the image isn't all that great, I want to repeat the key part of the text on the left side of the slide - "There is no one source of truth for an individual (that's me and you by the way), profile... In the future, a professionals profile will be unified..."

    Those are the lines that I noticed the most in the entire announcement, and here's why I think they are interesting and potentially troubling for MSFT, for your organization, and for all of us as professionals.

    Why? Three reasons...

    1. While just about all of us have come to a reluctant realization that we probably should and do have a reasonably complete professional profile and history on LinkedIn, that realization comes from years of consideration about LinkedIn, and what LinkedIn was doing with our data. We may not love the fact that LinkedIn became a $26B company largely on the value of our profile information we supplied (for free), but we came to decide the personal value to us was at least worth the tradeoff that has now made lots of LinkedIn investors rich.

    But will we be ok making those same kinds of tradeoffs knowing 'our' data and profiles are now owned by Microsoft? Will the 400M or so users be readily willing to give Microsoft the same kind of pass that we gave LinkedIn, given the perceived value to us? I am not so sure. Or at least I am not that sure it's a given that people already on LinkedIn won't be too bothered by this. And I know it is not a given that people who ar not yet on LinkedIn won't be given at least some pause turning over their profiles and history to an even more gigantic company in Microsoft.

    2. From an organizational standpoint, just how excited are you as an HR or business leader with Microsoft's plan to make its (LinkedIn/Office/Skype/Whatever else they have) data become the "unified" professional profile for your employees? Aren't you at least a little bit concerned by having more and more of your employee's data about what they are working on and who they are collaborating with becoming at least potentially part of some LinkedIn-based unified and possibly public profile? Are you sure that this won't be even more of a competitive issue for you and your organization? There are still companies and leaders that would prefer their employees not be on LinkedIn at all - so they are not as likely to be recruited away by a competitor. 

    3. Finally, from a personal angle how much do most professionals want their current organization to be even more aware of what an employee is doing on LinkedIn? Would you somehow get 'red flagged' as a flight risk if Microsoft's big data engine spots and alerts your organization's management that you recently looked at an external job posting or have just connected with two or three third-party recruiters? I know some of what all of us do on LinkedIn is potentially visible to our current management and company, but an even more embedded and universal profile (LinkedIn based), that in theory becomes the de facto internal corporate identity as well just exposes more and more of your LinkedIn actions to your employer, whether or not you want that exposure or not.

    Ok, that's it for me, let me know what you think - am I wrong to not be leading the cheers for this acquisition?


    The user interface is your voice

    Earlier this week Trish McFarlane and I did an HR Happy Hour Show and podcast based on the always interesting and influential Internet Trends Report from KPCB. On that show, we talked about some of the trends and ideas identified in the report (demographics, generational changes, and more), but one of the report's major themes that we did not discuss was the increase in capability and use of voice as a primary technology interface. Think Siri, Amazon's Echo and the like.

    The report spends a lot of time on this trend, (about 16 slides, almost 10% of the entire report), but I wanted to highlight just one of the slides, and then opine a bit about what this trend could imply for HR and workplace technologies going forward.

    Here's the money slide from the KPCB deck on the growth and potential of voice interfaces, then some FREE comments from me:

    Three quick takes on this chart and the voice interface trend overall...

    1. As the chart above shows, accuracy of these systems in terms of their ability to correctly recognize and interpret speech commands and instructions has been growing rapidly. And as these tools get better and better, users will take advantage of them more and more. Why? Talking is easier (and much faster), than typing or clicking. And convenience - think about when you are in your car, or making dinner in your kitchen, or eating a salami sandwich, (ok, maybe that is just my use case). Either way, as capability improves so will usage rates.

    2. While the primary use cases for voice interfaces and commands are largely personal, (these interfaces are primarily used for things like getting directions, making calls, sending texts, and the like), it is not a far stretch of the imagination to think that such a potentially widespread personal and consumer trend will work its way into workplace and organizational activities as well. Once your employees get used to using their voices to issue commands and requests for personal uses, it won't be long until they want to know why they can't navigate the online employee directory using voice, or ask the HRIS system to email them a PDF copy of their current benefits enrollments. Technology that takes hold of consumer consciousness almost always wants to enter the workplace as well. 

    3. Like wearable technologies like Google Glass and similar the initial workplace applications for voice interface technology might not be in so-called 'knowledge workers', but rather with front line and customer-facing workers like service techs, retail workers, or even in manufacturing and distribution. These are most likely the people that would benefit from increased computing capability that does not require them stopping what they are doing to manipulate a PC, table, or even a smart phone with their hands. We like to think that most tech advances benefit tech workers, but this might be a case where the best ROI comes from enabling field workers with the latest advances in tech.

    I think it is very interesting times in the voice interface space, and I wonder how long it will be until we see the first important breakthroughs in this area in the HR and workplace tech space.

    What say you?


    Notes from the road #20 - Spring event roundup edition

    A big part of how I spend my Spring each year is making the rounds of as many HR technology solution provider events (customer conferences and.or analyst meetings), as I can, all while planning for and developing the program for the 19th Annual HR Technology Conference and Expo to be held October 4 - 7, 2016 in Chicago, IL.

    These customer events are a great way for me to stay in touch with the industry - the technology trends, the challenges that customers are talking about and seeking solutions for, and the big workplace issues that are top of mind. Additionally, these events help me to take the pulse and temperature of the market - information I need as I work on HR Tech.  

    Since the Spring event season is just about over, (I think I have one more to attend, the always interesting HireVue event in a couple of weeks), I wanted to share at least a small part of what I saw, heard, and learned at a few of these events from early 2016. Hopefully, there is something in what I saw that might help you as you think about your HR technology plans for the remainder of the year.

    Greenhouse - This was the most recent event I have attended, so it is very fresh in my mind. Greenhouse is a newer provider of recruitment technology solutions primarily serving the SMB market, (don’t call it an ATS), that has grown rapidly in the last few years, primarily in the Bay Area technology ecosystem. Greenhouse takes a fresh approach to HR tech, at least a different one I think, in that they really think about solving the challenge of recruiting for organizations who wish to become “great” at recruiting first, rather than simply chasing down specific features and functions. It is an approach that is hard to describe in a few words, but if you want to learn more about Greenhouse and what they are about, check an interview I was able to do with CEO Dan Chait on the HR Happy Hour podcast here.

    Globoforce - The recent Globoforce customer conference, called WorkHuman, stands out from the group in that it is a very different kind of user event in that it does not (primarily) focus on the the actual products that Globoforce develops. Rather, WorkHuman focuses on making work and workplaces “better’, and showcases content and activities designed to help HR leaders better engage their workforces and that ultimately will elevate the nature of work. The solution set that Globoforce provides is positioned more as a complementary collection of tools that HR and organizational leaders can leverage in their efforts to simply make work “better” and more human. For more on this event, and how working more “human” translates to organizations, see this excellent piece from Trish McFarlane on the HR Ringleader blog.

    Oracle - Oracle’s HCM World event has rapidly grown to become one of the largest HR technology user events of its type. The most recent HCM World held in early April, was a reflection of the growth of Oracle’s HCM Cloud solutions, and the success they are having in the market. There was tons to see and hear at the event, but if I could pick out just one thing that stood out for me was the continued development and refreshing approach Oracle is taking with its new Learning technology in the cloud. The new learning tools are meant to be mobile-first, collaborative, personalized, and video heavy - a key to me as the trends in video consumption are only on the increase across all kinds of platforms. It is  great example of how an enterprise technology provider is adapting to trends in the consumer space to develop and deliver technologies with which users will want to engage. For more on what Oracle is working in HCM, listen to this recent HR Happy Hour podcast featuring Oracle’s Bertrand Dussert.

    Ultimate - Just like the other events listed above, Ultimate Software’s annual user conference is a reflection of the company itself - its culture, values, and philosophy. Ultimate's tagline has been “People First” for some time, but unlike most empty corporate slogans, Ultimate really does believe in putting its employees, customers, and community “first”. They are committed to their own employees and their family’s welfare and well-being, as evidenced by the generous and progressive approaches they take to engagement and development. But from a product capability standpoint, probably the most interesting area in which Ultimate is innovating is in the field of predictive analytics. These are modern approaches to give insight to leaders to be able to anticipate voluntary (and often undesirable) turnover, and to predict the likelihood of a candidate succeeding in a new role. But Ultimate is moving beyond just “predicting” events, it is trying to provide more meaningful and actionable recommendations and interventions to help leaders and managers better deal with these events. You can learn more about this approach on this by checking out another recent HR Happy Hour podcast with Cecile Alper-Leroux from Ultimate.

    That’s a quick look at four of the events I was able to attend in the last few months. And while each one was different of course, when I think back upon them, and the others that I was not able to list here, I am reminded that the challenges and opportunities facing HR leaders and their organizations remain pretty common and consistent. Finding the best talent, engaging the workforce, developing and retaining the best people, while all the time ensuring compliance and accuracy in all HR administrative processes. Thankfully, modern and innovative technologies like the ones being developed by the five providers above continue to rise to these challenges, and are able to help HR leaders reach their goals. And of course, you can see these providers, and hundreds more, at the upcoming HR Technology Conference in October.