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    Entries in Technology (367)

    Wednesday
    Feb222017

    The Uber HR mess, it probably starts at the pitch meeting

    I don't have a lot more to add to what has been voluminous coverage over the last several days of the recent expose of Uber's (probably) hostile work environment, particularly for the women at Uber. The process of the shocking reveal of what is was really like to work at Uber from a former employee, the wide and far calls of condemnation and Uber boycotts, followed by the quick (and high profile) reactions and vows to 'fix' things from Uber's CEO and their celebrity board member are playing out more or less how you would expect them to.

    Whether or not Uber can, wants to, or will really be able to 'fix' things remains to be seen, and is probably the less important of the things that the rest of us can take away from this mess. It is probably more useful for us to think about how Uber (and others like them), got to this point in the first place.

    Recode has a good piece about how Uber insiders attribute a large portion of the situation at Uber, the ineffectual support and response of internal HR to employee complaints, to the HR culture at Uber of being 90% about recruiting, and 9% about terminations, with the leftover 1% spent doing the necessary admin functions. I made up the percentages, but the idea is clear - Uber was scaling up at a rapid pace, hiring was critical to meeting their business objectives, and it seems likely once people were hired, they were more or less on their own.

    And while the Recode piece makes some great points, and I have no reason to think it is not accurate, I would add one more possible 'cause' to all this mess at Uber, (and the many, many other tech companies that continually struggle with these issues). And it is this - from the earliest stages of the enterprise, the initial presentations and investor pitch decks that the founders use to raise funds, building and supporting diverse teams of people is almost (I can't find one example) never mentioned in these contexts. The 'formula' for raising investments does not include things like a diversity plan or strategies to incorporate talent from underrepresented groups as a key element that will lead to business success.

    It is just never mentioned. What gets mentioned, (and rewarded), are the product ideas, the 'briliance' of the founder, or the reasonable line of sight the investor can assess from the idea to some kind of highly profitable outcome. 

    I did some quick searching this morning for 'Best Pitch Decks Ever' or 'Top Pitch Decks of All Time' and I looked through about 20 of them and did not find one mention of diversity, inclusion, or a stated goal to build a more open, welcoming, fair, or equitable workplace. Note, I am certain this exists somewhere, but I could not find an example right off the bat.

    So back to the question of where to these problems start at places like Uber?

    I think they start from that very first slide deck and from that first presentation where I bet no one talks about these issues.

    Should they be raised at that early point in a company's growth? I will leave that up to the professional investors and founders I guess.

    But having said that, leaving that question up to those two groups has led us to places like Uber.

    Have a great Wednesday!

    Monday
    Feb202017

    HRE Column: What is Driving Innovation in Workplace Technology

    Once again, I offer 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 that can be found here.

    This month, I take a look at the emerging consumer and personal technology trends that are driving and shaping next generation HR and workplace technologies.  While some of these themes or trends are just extensions and evolutions of ideas and concepts we have been talking about for a while, (mobile, real-time, personalized), it still can take time, even years, for these consumer tech trends to manifest in HR technologies.

    I like to think that we are entering (or maybe have already entered), an amazing era of innovation and transformation in HR and workplace tech, much of it being driven by evolving and demanding user expectations, and the changing of the what we think about when we think about HR tech.

    In this month's HR Executive column I examine a a few of the themes or trends that I am seeing in HR, HR Tech, and the workplace, and how these trends will help inform and shape the design, development, and deployment of HR and workplace technologies in 2017, and beyond.  This was a fun exercise for me, and I hope you get some ideas and insights from this review as you plan out your year and make your HR technology decisions. 

    From the HRE piece:

    I've been working on a couple of new talks that I will be giving this year centered around one key idea that has been talked about for some time in HR-tech circles but is now -- finally -- becoming more prevalent in the design, deployment and impact of HR-technology solutions.

    The idea is a simple one. Namely, that the traditional way HR and other workplace technologies have been designed -- by programmers, then marketed and sold to CIOs or IT managers, and finally deployed and configured primarily for the needs of the power users in the payroll and HR departments -- is no longer that useful.

    The continuing series of tech-driven advances in our personal and consumer lives -- such as e-commerce sites that learn our preferences and make personal product recommendations; smartphones and the emergence of app stores that let us design our own preferred toolsets; "intelligent," crowd-sourced platforms that help us beat traffic jams; and ubiquitous and constant Internet connections -- have combined to create heightened expectations of workplace technologies that look, feel and function like the best consumer technologies we have come to love.

    Most importantly, the next generation of the workforce has never known a time when these personalized, highly adaptable, intelligent and easy-to-use types of technologies did not exist.

    Indeed, before walking into your organization for their first day of work, these new employees might have dressed in clothes that were personally selected for them and shipped directly to their houses by StitchFix; have prepared to meet their colleagues by perusing their LinkedIn, Twitter or GitHub profiles; learned about your industry and their new job functions by watching YouTube videos and reading Quora threads; and traveled to the office by summoning a car to their house via Uber or Lyft, or dodging the traffic using Waze. And they did all this on their smartphones. It is no surprise, then, that these new workers are expecting the same kinds of capabilities, flexibility and ease of use from the technology they will use at work.

    Both HR-technology providers and HR leaders are being spurred on to adapt to these new challenges by creating and deploying modern HR technologies that incorporate these kinds of consumer elements and expectations of personalization, beautiful design and ease of use into the next generation of HR tech tools. The evolution of HR and workplace technologies has begun, and the most effective organizations will look to modernize their workplace tools to meet this new, demanding and tech-savvy employee.

    Let's highlight five current manifestations of how modern HR technologies are adapting to meet these these new requirements, and share some thoughts on how HR leaders can better assess, select and deploy HR-technology solutions to meet these demands.

    Mobile

    The Internet traffic and measurement firm StatCounter recently released a report showing worldwide Internet usage from mobile and tablet devices has surpassed internet usage from traditional PCs and laptops, with 51 percent of all Internet usage via mobile. This is a trend that is showing no signs of abating anytime soon. When broken down generationally, it reveals that younger generations prefer mobile over desktops and laptops even more prominently. Three or four years ago, it was common for organizations and HR-technology-solution providers to have a "mobile strategy." Now it seems almost behind the times to explicitly discuss "mobile" tools as something distinct from traditional workplace applications.

    Connected

    I thought about calling this example "Social" to represent how the growth of social networks in the last decade and their popularity with the younger demographic has influenced almost every type of HR and workplace technology, but I think "connected" is a better term to describe how social will continue to influence HR and workplace technology moving forward. "Social" feels a little superficial to me, and besides, I don't think it adequately represents the importance of community and younger workers feeling like they are a part of something larger that is considerably important to them. They want to be connected at work similar to the ways they are connected in their personal lives -- not chasing "likes" on their latest selfie, but coming together with their peers, sharing their knowledge and ideas, helping and supporting each other, and finally "belonging" to something important.

    A great example of this new trend is in the learning-technology realm, where newer systems provide the capability for all end users to share their expertise and upload their own video tutorials, and for other users to build upon this content with comments, addendum and upvotes, indicating that the content was particularly helpful and useful. Communities end up self-forming around subjects and content that are important for the organization, and people feel more connected and supported by their colleagues as well.

    Read the rest at HR Executive online...

    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 clean out your gutters, take your dog for a walk, or help you plan your summer vacation.

    Have a great week!

    Wednesday
    Jan252017

    PODCAST - #HRHappyHour 273 - HR Tech 3.0 and More of What HR Leaders Need to Know

    HR Happy Hour 273 - HR Tech 3.0 and More of What HR Leaders Need to Know

    Host: Steve Boese

    Guest: Randy Cooper, Co-CEO, PeopleStrategy

    Listen HERE

    This week on the show, host Steve Boese is joined by Randy Cooper, Co-CEO of PeopleStrategy to talk about some of the big themes and trends in HR and HR Tech as we begin 2017. First we had HCM 1.0, marked by 'big' systems that helped organizations manage all kinds of back office functions, then HCM 2.0, the beginning of the internet era, where we see the first HR and Recruiting processes migrate to the web.

    Think the first ATS tools, Benefits outsourcing, the emergence of SaaS for Talent Management, etc. And now in 2017 we are at the start of HCM or HR Tech 3.0, where (hopefully) the best elements of both HCM 1.0 and 2.0 are coalescing and combining to create a set of greater capabilities, service delivery options, and advanced capabilities that back in the 1.0 days, we only dreamed about.

    Does HCM 1.0 and 2.0 add up to HCM 3.0? Should HR leaders chase the next shiny object? Where can HR leaders turn to get better educated on the HR Tech landscape?

    You can listen to the show on the show page HERE, or using the widget player below (email or RSS subscribers click through)

    Listen to the show to hear a lively and interesting discussion about the current set of HR technologies, the challenges and opportunities they present, and what HR leaders need to know as they plan their organization's HR Tech strategies moving forward.

    This was a fun and interesting show, thanks Randy for joining us.

    And of course, thanks to our show sponsor Virgin Pulse - learn more at www.virginpulse.com.

    Finally, subscribe to the HR Happy Hour Show on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, or your favorite podcast app.

    Friday
    Jan132017

    HRE Column: Looking ahead to HR Tech 2017 - #HRTechConf

    Once again, I offer 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 that can be found here.

    This month, in what has become an annual exercise for me, I take a look at the emerging HR, HR technology, and workplace themes and trends that surface from my early planning for the HR Technology Conference in October.  While some of these themes or trends are just extensions and evolutions of ideas and concepts we have been talking about for a while, (mobile, analytics, engagement), some others like the field of Artificial Intelligence, or AI, seem really fresh and new.  I like to think that reviewing hundreds of HR Tech speaking submissions and having dozens of calls with leading HR tech providers and thought leaders provides me kind of a unique perspective on what is really happening with modern HR technologies inside organizations.

    In this month's HR Executive column I take a look at a few of these initial themes or trends that I am seeing in HR, HR Tech, and the workplace, and how these trends will help inform and shape the discussions in 2017, and the program for the HR Technology Conference in October. This is always a fun exercise for me, and I hope you get some ideas and insights from this review as you plan out your year.  

    From the HRE piece:

    I have started the planning process for the 20th annual HR Technology® Conference and Exposition (Oct. 10 through 13, 2017, and back in Las Vegas after a quick detour through Chicago last year). To date, the most common question I am asked from individuals and organizations interested in attending and/or speaking at the conference is what the main themes will be this year.

    Granted, the annual event covers an ever-broadening spectrum of technologies, business processes and topics and, over time, many of the primary challenges facing HR and business leaders have grown, changed and evolved as well. Five years ago, the word "analytics" would likely not have popped up in an HR leader's job description. Today, analytics is high on almost every HR leader's list of strategic priorities. And the main themes of HR Tech have evolved as well, along with these ever-changing business challenges and technology-driven opportunities.

    But to get back to the question, here is my very preliminary swing at the answer:

    Artificial Intelligence and HR

    When I initially started brainstorming topics for the column, one thought was to write about the recent Consumer Electronics Show and look for parallels and extensions from the new and emerging consumer tools to how these technologies might manifest in the workplace. While I decided not to do an entire column on that topic, there was one clear "winner" of CES this year, and that was Amazon's Alexa platform. Alexa, via Amazon's Echo device, is a voice-activated, intelligent digital assistant that can perform a wide variety of useful tasks, primarily in the home. The big story from CES was how Alexa is already being leveraged by numerous other devices -- such as in cars, on refrigerators and directly integrated in smartphones. The big takeaway from this, and a trend I am seeing reflected in many of the HR Tech proposals I have reviewed, is the increasing comfort level and capability individuals are developing with intelligent and responsive technologies, in addition to their increasing reliance on them. As these intelligent technologies proliferate in our personal lives (often accompanied by voice-interface capability), we can expect to see them emerge in HR and workplace technology as well. I expect "AI for HR" will be an important topic at HR Tech 2017 and beyond.

    The Employee Experience

    Last year in this space I talked about the evolution of employee engagement as an important topic for 2016. Now that a full year has passed, I think this evolution from the idea of "engagement" to something that has become known as the employee "experience" has made significant progress. More organizations have begun looking past the focus on the "end result," i.e., the engagement score, and have launched initiatives (and looked to supporting HR technologies) that more directly impact the key components of an employee's experience with the organization -- components that ultimately drive what we measure as engagement. A look through my inbox of pitches for HR Tech 2017 reveals topics such as career development, employee well-being, corporate social responsibility and personalized employee learning -- all topics that speak to organizational efforts to enhance their employees' positive experience.

    Platforms and Integration

    Like most technology trends, there is a lag between the introduction of a new technology, the identification and emergence of that technology as a "trend," and the more widespread acceptance and adoption of the technology by providers and organizations. At  the 2015 conference, we began to look more closely at the importance of HR-technology platforms, ecosystems and application marketplaces. No matter the specific terminology, the main idea was that organizations of all sizes had adopted numerous and often disparate HR-tech solutions, and were facing the daunting challenge of integrating these diverse solutions both for process efficiency and productivity, as well as for consolidated reporting and business intelligence. Fast forward to early 2017, and HR-tech platforms, application interoperability, and the "marketplace" or app store concept is now being more fully realized and adopted by providers and customers. At the upcoming HR Tech Conference, I expect we will see and hear stories about some important and early organizational successes that have resulted from applying these technologies and approaches to harmonize their divergent sets of HR solutions.

    Read the rest at HR Executive online...

    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 shovel the snow off your driveway, take your dog for a walk, or help you plan your summer vacation.

    Have a great weekend!

    Friday
    Dec302016

    VACATION REWIND: The secret to buying software

    NOTE: I am out of pocket more or less until the New Year, so I thought I would re-air a few pieces that I liked from earlier this year for folks who may have missed them the first time. Hope you are having a great holiday season and a Happy New Year!

    From May - The Secret to Buying Software

    Indulge me, if you will, with a short quote from The Book of Basketball:

    (Isiah Thomas, NBA legend with the Detroit Pistons):

    "The secret of basketball is that it’s not about basketball."

    Here’s what Isiah Thomas meant: the guys who have the best numbers don’t always make the best team. There is more to winning than just the raw talent (although that plays a huge role).

    What Isiah learned while following those Lakers and Celtics teams around: it wasn’t about basketball.Those teams were loaded with talented players, yes, but that’s not the only reason they won. They won because they liked each other, knew their roles, ignored statistics, and valued winning over everything else." 

    What does the 'secret' of winning basketball have to do with 'real' work and more specifically, enterprise software?
    It is that more and more the 'secret' of making the right software solution purchase decision for your organization has less and less to do with the traditional measurements - system features, fit-gap analysis, and on-paper capability; and has more and more to do with the your mutual vision for the future, and the ability to execute on that shared vision by your potential software provider.

     

    Solution capabilities, certainly at the enterprise level, are evolving and expanding faster than ever. With cloud-based software deployment, shorter enhancement and upgrade cycles, and the comparative ease for organizations who wish to adopt new these capabilities to be able to derive value from them - the actual list of capabilities or 'yes' responses to an RFP questionnaire matter less than ever before.

     

    No, what matters today, and will likely matter even more in the next 5 years, is your ability to assess a potential software providers ability to 'see' around the corner, to articulate an idea of what will matter most for work, workplaces, and employees, and present more than just a list of software features, but rather expand upon a vision of how they (and you), will navigate the next few years of a working world that will almost certainly look much different than the one we live in today.

     

    Think I am wrong about this? That 'features' matter less than vision?

     

    Ok, think about this.

     

    If say three years ago you went out to collect bids for a new enterprise-wide performance management system, you would have challenged your potential vendors to show you features like goal alignment, cascading goal assignment, proportional competency evaluation, the connection of performance rating scores to compensation plans, and more. You would have made final evaluations not only on these points, but also on how easily you could migrate your existing annual performance management process to this new system.

    Fast forward to today, where we are entering into a new world of employee performance management.

    Today, if you were again to collect bids for a new enterprise-wide performance management system you likely would be looking for features like real-time feedback, peer-to-peer recognition, the ability to do 'scoreless' reviews, and a connection of the performance tool not to your comp system, but to your enterprise collaboration tools.

    The main features you would be chasing would be very, very different.

    That's why the secret to buying software for the organization is that it isn't about the software - at least not as it exists at a fixed point in time.

    If three years ago your chosen vendor for performance technology had the vision, and the ability to adapt to the new world of performance management, then you likely would not need to chase another new solution to meet your (and the workplace's) changing needs. But if they didn't? And they were really only or at least primarily concerned with checking 'yes' to every question on the RFP?

    Then three years later you are left with a technology that can really only support yesterday's process.

    Don't get caught up on features. At least don't make features the only thing you think about when evaluating technology.

    Features are cheap. They are easily copied. And they fall out of fashion faster than you think.

    Vision?

    Much harder to come by. And much more valuable.

    The secret to buying software is that it's not about the software.

    Have a great weekend!