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    Entries in Technology (416)

    Wednesday
    May022018

    #HRTechConf Update: Submissions Open for Awesome New Technology and Discovering the Next Great HR Tech Company

    NOTE: I had an important HR Technology Conference update that I posted yesterday over on the the Conference's HR Tech Insiders blog, but I did want to cross-post here too, to make sure any and all interested HR technology companies and solution providers had the news. Thanks!

    From HR Tech Insiders...

    Attention HR Technology Solution Providers: Submissions to be considered for the annual HR Technology® Conference and Exhibition "Awesome New Technologies for HR" and "Discovering the Next Great HR Technology Company" sessions are being accepted and can be submitted on the HR Tech website HERE.

    In case you are new to these sessions, here is what they are, how they work, and who is eligible for consideration for each session.

    "Awesome New Technologies for HR" showcases larger, more established HR tech solution providers, (publicly traded, been in the market for several years, maybe running TV spots on CNBC, etc.), who are invited to submit their latest, most innovative solutions for consideration. These can be new modules for an existing platform, a reinvention of one or more of their solutions, or something totally new and unique in the HR tech market. During the summer, I will review, arrange demonstrations, and select 5 or 6 solution providers to present for 10 minutes on our main stage at HR Tech and be recognized as an "Awesome New Technology for HR" for 2018.

    "Discovering the Next Great HR Technology Company" is for the startups, less-established, or emerging HR tech solution providers in the space, and works a little differently than "Awesome New Technologies." From the submissions we receive on our website, HR Tech works with a group of industry experts -  George LaRocque, Principal Analyst and Founder of HRWins , Madeline Laurano, Founder and Principal Analyst of Aptitude Research Partners., Ben Eubanks, Principal Analyst of Lighthouse Research & Advisory, and Lance Haun, Practice Director for The Starr Conspiracy to select eight semi-finalist HR tech solution providers.

    Then, during the summer our analyst coaches will work with the eight semi-finalists to hone their messaging and demonstrations, and will be posting videos and additional information about the semi-finalist startups.

    In July and August we will be looking to you, the HR Tech Insiders audience, to vote online on the HR Tech Insiders site and help us select from these eight semi-finalists, the four finalists that will get to present to the audience at the conference in Las Vegas in September. And in a new wrinkle for 2018, the four finalists will be joined by a fifth company - the winner of the 1st Annual HR Technology Conference Pitchfest which will take place during the Conference. Finally, this will culminate in live demonstrations from the five finalists on our main stage after which Conference attendees will select the Next Great HR Technology Company for 2018 live in Vegas!

    We encourage all interested HR technology solution providers for either session to submit an entry for consideration here. The application deadline is Friday, June 29th, so don't wait too long to submit.

    I can't wait to review the submissions and see all the incredible HR technology innovation I know is out there!

    Tuesday
    May012018

    Emotional surveillance - coming to a workplace near you?

    I am going to submit today's dispatch from the HR Happy Hour Home Office without much commentary, as like many tech-driven developments we hear about, this one is probably too extreme to have much of an effect in the US or any of the other places where readers of this blog reside, (Hi Canada!).

    From one of my favorite sources on all things going on in business in China, the South China Morning Post, here is a little bit of a piece titled 'Forget the Facebook leak: China is mining data directly from worker's brains on an industrial scale':

    Workers outfitted in uniforms staff lines producing sophisticated equipment for telecommunication and other industrial sectors.

    But there’s one big difference – the workers wear caps to monitor their brainwaves, data that management then uses to adjust the pace of production and redesign workflows, according to the company.

    The company said it could increase the overall efficiency of the workers by manipulating the frequency and length of break times to reduce mental stress.

    Hangzhou Zhongheng Electric is just one example of the large-scale application of brain surveillance devices to monitor people’s emotions and other mental activities in the workplace, according to scientists and companies involved in the government-backed projects.

    Concealed in regular safety helmets or uniform hats, these lightweight, wireless sensors constantly monitor the wearer’s brainwaves and stream the data to computers that use artificial intelligence algorithms to detect emotional spikes such as depression, anxiety or rage.

    The technology is in widespread use around the world but China has applied it on an unprecedented scale in factories, public transport, state-owned companies and the military to increase the competitiveness of its manufacturing industry and to maintain social stability.

    Wow, pretty wild, fairly extreme - even by the looser standards for what is ok and not ok in the workplace that still prevail in most of China.

    But here's the interesting thing, we all have already come to accept certain kinds of monitoring in the workplace. We make hourly workers punch in and punch out every day, (and remind them to be sure to punch out before taking lunch). All kinds of call center representatives have their calls and interactions with customers reviewed and even listened to in real time by supervisors. Warehouse workers are often subjected to really close and detailed kinds of monitoring - how fast they find items for an order, how many errors they make per shift, and how closely they achieve "goal" performance each week.

    Ever white collar jobs are subject at times to really close monitoring and supervision. Most lawyers and consultants are still billing by the hour, so they must keep and have reviewed detailed time and activity logs. Many organizations require receipts for every dollar spent on employee travel in order for the employee to get reimbursed. Are you sure you had that Dunkin' coffee for $2.65? Even the rise and increasing popularity of workplace chat apps like Slack have created more environments where your 'status', i.e. are you currently working, is visible to everyone and monitored by most.

    The point being that sure, this idea of monitoring employee brainwaves in real time, or as one Chinese official described it, conducting 'emotional surveillance' seems ludicrous, it can also be seen as just the next, tech-enabled step on a path that lots of organizations are already walking. And the deployment of these kinds of technologies for workers in dangerous, important roles like airline pilot or high-speed train operator could offer another level of safety for the public - a pilot judged to be in an emotional state prior to takeoff could be pulled from the flight as a precaution.

    I don't have a great, insightful conclusion to this story at the moment only to say that while it is inevitable that technologies will continue to advance, and offer better, more, and more personal information about workers, it is (hopefully), going to be the role of smart HR people to help guide organizations as to the best, fairest, and 'right' use of these kinds of tool. The pilot on the above flight is not just a pattern of brainwaves after all. He/she is an actual human.

    Have a great day!

    Wednesday
    Apr182018

    Job Titles of the Future: Technology Ambassador

    Traditionally the institutions that have wielded power and influence and have amassed significant wealth and made an impact on people's lives were governments, (and to some extent religions). When a country's government enacts a policy or issues some new set of rules and regulations, this tends to have an outsize impact and effect on the people of that country, and if the country is big and influential enough, can even impact people all over the world. Just one recent example - the US/China trade and tariff disputes have sent global equity markets on a kind of wild, roller coaster ride lately - effecting markets and wealth of people all over the world.

    To a less direct, but by no means insignificant degree, changes in direction or policy from important religious organizations can effect people all over the world. The major world religions are not confined within one country or even two or three - they have followers all across the globe. If tomorrow the Pope issued a decree that, say, women are not allowed to become priests, that news would stir congregations in two hundred countries.

    But increasingly there is another set of globe spanning institutions that have perhaps even more worldwide influence and importance in people's lives and in commerce than say do most individual countries or single religions - the world's largest technology companies. Think Facebook with its 2 billion users. Google with its incredible reach and dominance in web search and mobile phone operating systems. Amazon with its seemingly inexorable march to dominate e-commerce and cloud computing. Apple, with more cash on hand than many small countries. And we haven't even mentioned the Chinese tech giants like Alibaba and Tencent. In China, Tencent's WeChat impacts everything - news, communication, shopping, banking, and more.

    The world's largest tech companies are in some ways like countries or religions themselves. Their users are like citizens, their terms of service, methods of interaction, rules of engagement, codes of conduct, and unique cultures and sub-cultures offer similarities to the framework of large, religous organizations. Their influence on global economics and societies cannot be underestimated. Just like global trade disputes have roiled financial markets in recent days, so has the Facebook data security drama and fallout. At this stage, who would argue that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg isn't one of the world's most important people?

    So all that leads back to the title of the piece, the latest installment of the often imitated, but never surpassed 'Job Titles of the Future' series. The job title is Technology Ambassador and the details of this job come to us from the country of Denmark, who, as far as I can tell, are the first and only nation to create and name an official 'Technology Ambassador' for the country. 

    What does a Technology Ambassador do? Some details from a piece on Wired UK:

    Ambassadors are traditionally staid public officials, holed up in grand embassies in the farthest-flung corners of the world. Their job? Schmoozing the powerful, smoothing over tricky arguments and promoting their country. "Diplomacy has always been about putting people in outposts where there have been new activities and events - be it in conflict areas, or where innovation, creativity and new technology is influencing our ways of life," explains Casper Klynge, who has just taken up the role as the first ever ambassador to Silicon Valley.

    The job came about when Denmark's Foreign Office decided to create the post of what was then called a "Google ambassador", who would interact with the tech giants. The role was officially created in February; Klynge was appointed a few months later. In late August, he moved to California and into his Palo Alto embassy, where he plans to build a team of more than a dozen staff, supported by a back-office secretary and a number of tech attachés around the world - the first of which will be based in Klynge's old stomping ground, Asia.

    The most important role he has as ambassador shows just how much the world has changed in recent years: he's there to meet Silicon Valley's biggest companies in exactly the same way he has previously met with prime ministers and presidents. "We need to build those relationships because of the key influence these companies have over our daily lives," he says, "and, at the end of the day, over foreign policy and international affairs."

    This appointment of a Technology Ambassador show Denmark's really progressive, prescient, and probably soon to be copied approach to their nation's relationships with 'Big Tech' by other countries in the near future.

    These companies seem to only be growing in influence - signing on more and more of the world's population, developing ever more and more convenient capabilities and features to keep users engaged, and expanding into more areas of daily life. Think about it this way - what institution or entity is more influential on a macro basis, Facebook or a country like Denmark?

    These are certainly interesting times, tech companies have more users than most countries have citizens or religions have adherents. And unlike most counties and religions, their size and influence seems to still be trending higher. Denmark's decision to think about and treat Big Tech like nations have traditionally considered other nations is also incredibly interesting too. And a one of the most interesting 'Job Titles of the Future' we have came across yet.

    Have a great day!

     

     

     

    Monday
    Apr092018

    Is every company soon to be an 'Artificial Intelligence' company?

    A few years back the quote 'Every company is a technology company' made the rounds on social media and in presentations on the workplace, the future of work, and in probably too many TED talks to try and compile.

    But while some work and workplace sayings, at least to me, don't necessarily become any more true just because they are repeated all the time, ('Culture eats strategy for breakfast', I am looking right at you), this notion of just about every kind of organization becoming much more reliant, dependent, and committed to more and more advanced technologies as a means to survive, compete, and thrive still seems valid to me.

    Can you think of any business, small, medium, or large, that has not had its processes, products, services, communications, administration, customer service, and marketing significantly impacted by new technology in the last decade? Aside from perhaps a few of the very smallest, local service businesses, I can't really think of any. And even those kinds of places, say like a local barbershop or pizza joint, are likely to have a 'Follow us on Facebook' or a 'Find us on Yelp' sticker in the window.

    I thought about this idea, of every company being a technology company, again recently when I saw this piece on Business Insider - 'Goldman Sachs made a big hire from Amazon to lead its Artificial Intelligence efforts'. While it isn't surprising or revealing at all to think of a giant financial institution like Goldman being transformed by technology like so many other firms in all industries, this specific focus on AI technology is I think worth noting.

    Here's an excerpt from the piece:

    Goldman Sachs has hired a senior employee from Amazon to run the bank's artificial-intelligence efforts.

    Charles Elkan has joined Goldman Sachs as a managing director leading the firm's machine learning and AI strategies, according to an internal memo viewed by Business Insider.

    Elkan comes from Amazon, where he was responsible for the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at Amazon Web Services, according to the memo. He previously led the retailing giant's Seattle-based central machine-learning team.

    "In this role, Charles will build and lead a center of excellence to drive machine learning and artificial intelligence strategy and automation, "Elisha Wiesel, Goldman Sachs' chief information officer, wrote in the memo. "Charles will work in partnership with teams across the firm looking to apply leading techniques in their businesses."

    The key element I think to the announcement of Goldman's new AI hire is meant to work with groups across the entire business in order to find ways to apply AI and Machine Learning technologies. Almost as if Goldman is not looking to create the 'AI Department' akin to the classic 'IT Department' that exists in just about every company, but rather to find ways to infuse specific kinds of tech and tech approaches all over the company.

    And thinking about AI in that way, much differently to how most companies have looked at most of the major technological advances in the past is what leads me back to the question and title of the post. If the Goldman, (and plenty of other companies too) example of looking for ways to embed AI technology and techniques all across their businesses, then it is not really a stretch to suggest at least in some ways they are seeking to become 'an AI company' at their core.

    What's been the most significant single technology advance in the last 25 years or so that has done more to change how work and business get done?

    Email?

    The web?

    Mobile phones?

    Probably some combination of these three I would bet. And has any company you have known decided to 'brand' or consider themselves 'an email company?' Or a 'mobile phone' company? 

    Not really, these were just tools to try and get better, more efficient, more profitable being whatever kind of company they really were.

    So I think the answer to the 'AI question' for Goldman, or for anyone else going all in with AI at the moment is 'No', we aren't really trying become an Artificial Intelligence company. We probably should just consider AI and its potential as just another set of tools that can be leveraged in support of what it is we are really trying to do.

    Even if it is tempting to try and create the latest management/workplace axiom.

    Have a great week! 

    Wednesday
    Mar142018

    HRE Column: Succeeding with HR Tech - Part 2

    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 continue the topic of 'Success with HR Tech' that we covered first in February with a look at some of the external factors that impact HR Technology projects. In the March column, we pivot to examine a few of the internal issues, challenges, and opportunities that perhaps have even more of an impact and influence on success with HR tech.

    These are two of the major themes that we will be focusing on for the next HR Technology Conference - the nature of 'success' with your HR technology initiatives, and we will focus on the key issues, themes, and considerations for HR Tech projects, vendor relationships, and internal program/project best practices that are essential for success, and that will be covered in more detail at the Conference this year.

    In the piece, I take a look at some of the issues and considerations that HR leaders should keep in mind as they build a business case for HR tech projects, evaluate potential solution providers, organize and staff project teams, execute their implementations, and finally deal with the important topics of change management and user adoption.

    Here's an excerpt from this month's piece in HRE Online:

    Last month’s column focused on the “success” theme while looking at the considerations and questions you should ask of prospective HR tech solution providers prior to purchasing any HR technology solution. This time around, we will look at some of the internal factors that are vital to customer success in HR tech.

    The organizational elements of success with HR technology will be highlighted this September at the HR Technology Conference and Exposition® in Las Vegas, and the combination of information and best practices on these “outside” (or provider) elements—along with the “inside” (or organizational) elements—will provide HR and HRIT leaders with the foundation for overall HR tech success.

    Here are a few of the key internal elements that organizations must address when planning, executing, evaluating and achieving long-term success with HR technology.

    Creating the business case

    Almost every organization’s HR technology initiatives require internal justification, a budget and executive support, and the means to define and secure these commitments is usually the business case. But for many HR leaders, preparing a technology-centric business case meant to form the basis for HR technology investments is not always easy.

    Here are a few of the key questions that the HR technology program business case should answer.

    The purpose: What specific business problem needs to be solved?

    The importance: What is the negative impact or value of the missed opportunity by not solving this problem?

    The benefit: Stated in quantitative terms, what happens to the business if we do solve this problem?

    Potential approaches: What are some plausible ways to address the business problem?

    Recommendations for action: What are the specific recommendations for next steps? Give special attention to how HR technology will support/drive the business problem’s solution.

    Managing the vendor selection

    Once the organization’s business case has been approved, perhaps the most interesting and difficult process begins: making a technology and vendor selection.  Successful organizations process through and address many of the following considerations when making such selections:

    Identify “must-have” business requirements. Recognize the necessary business-critical capabilities—ones that directly impact the business problem your business case defines—so that you can ensure they can be supported by the selected technology solution.

    Be honest about “nice-to-have” requirements. Take care to understand the difference between critical system capability and other functionality that some users may love but are not fundamentally important to support business processes and solve business problems. No HR technology solution will meet 100 percent of a company’s requirements. The key is knowing that not all requirements are the same.

    Understand the internal factors for success. Who will be the users of this solution? What specifically are their needs? How is their ability and capacity to embrace and adopt new technology? Not all technology solutions are a “fit” with all organizations. Make sure your unique and specific organizational attributes are aligned with the technology provider.

    Gather your candidates. There are increasing sources for HR leaders to create lists of potential solution providers for their HR technology evaluations. From traditional research reports, crowd-sourced software review sites, recommendations from peers, to previous experience with specific solutions, there is plenty of market information available. At HR Tech, we will help you understand how to make sense of all this information to help you narrow down the list that gives your program the best chance for success.

    Assess the providers. Once the short list of technology providers has been created, HR leaders should approach assessment and evaluation in a thorough and consistent manner. Key considerations in this process include the ability of each provider to meet your prioritized requirements, how each solution matches or fits your organization’s user profiles and culture, how the provider aligns with your goals and vision, and finally, how you assess the provider’s willingness and ability to be a true business partner, not just a technology supplier...

    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 plant your spring garden, take your dog for a walk, or re-surface your driveway.

    Have a great day!