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    Entries in Technology (416)

    Friday
    Mar092018

    n = 1

    1. Tariffs: I am not an economist, and I don't even play one on TV. But these blanket tariffs, (code for taxes), sort of feel wrong to me. It is super complicated for sure, but the idea that in 2018 we (America), wants to value one kind of industry over another, mostly based on some romanticized recollection of the past, is misguided. We will see how this pans out of course, and like lots of these kinds of things the impacts will likely be less dramatic in the real world than the current headlines suggest.

    2. TECH: Yesterday I shared some data about the growth and marker share of the 'smart speaker' market - Echo, Google Home, etc. I am incredibly bullish on how these devices and voice assistants in general are going to impact workplace tech. In my down time I have been working on a little project for the Amazon Alexa platform that I hope to get launched in the next week or two. Stay tuned for that.

    3. Winter: it is still snowing here in Western NY. That is not surprising so it can't really be described as disappointing. It is sad though. A few items below there's another observation about Rochester, NY that will make more sense when considering how long and cold and miserable the winters can be here.

    4. HR Happy Hour: Lots of great stuff on the HR Happy Hour Show and the HHH family of shows. Go to the HR Happy Hour Show Page to get caught up, and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. We started the HR Happy Hour way back in 2009. Amazing it is still going strong after all this time.

    5. Sports: I have never been less interested in my New York Knicks. Once franchise player (and hopefully savior), Kristaps Porzingis went down injured the team has become simply unwatchable. I think I can name more players on the US Olympic Curling Team than I can on the current Knicks. Dreadful.

    6. JOBS: Writing this over a coffee as the monthly US Employment report hit the news. Wow - 313,000 jobs added in February 2018. That's a huge number. Unemployment rate held at 4.1% due to lots more people re-entering the labor force - makes sense since the economy is adding so many jobs. Have fun recruiting for those 'hard to fill' positions. Maybe, just maybe it's time to raise wages?

    7. Location: On the same CNBC show that I caught the Jobs report update, one of the 'expert' analysts was discussing job and skills training, and the role of the private sector vs. the public sector with respect to re-skilling workers who are impacted by automation and shifting labor market needs. My ears perked up when explaining why companies need to 'own' training current and future workers he remarked, 'Let's say you own a company in Rochester, NY, (NOTE: Where I live). No one is relocating to Rochester, NY to take your open jobs. You have to re-train the people who are already there if you want to fill those jobs." Ouch. Probably more or less true. I am about 15 months from getting out of here myself.

    8. Oscars: Trish and I did pretty well on our Academy Awards Predictions on the Happy Hour. Sufjan Stevens was robbed in the Best Song category though. (Embed below, email and RSS subscribers click through)

    9. Social Media note of note: I have pared down my social media use to (mostly automated/scheduled) Twitter updates and (oddly enough) posting travel pics on the Chinese social media app WeChat. Over a decade on various social apps has me burned out from them. I have not logged in to Facebook in probably a year, (although links to the blog still post there) and stopped posting (and checking) Instagram last summer. Not that anyone cares. But once in a while someone tries to get in touch with me on one of those apps and I just wanted to let anyone who does care know that I don't see any those messages. I kind of feel like I'm not alone in drifting off in terms of social media use/addiction. Who knows, maybe blogs will stage a comeback!

    10. FOOD: Shamrock Shakes are back. Enough said.

    Have a great weekend!

    Thursday
    Mar082018

    CHART OF THE DAY: The Rise of the Smart Speaker

    There is pretty good evidence that the rate of mainstream adoption of new technologies is significantly more rapid than it has been in the past. It took something like 60 or 70 years for the home-based, land line telephone to achieve over 90% penetration in US homes once the technology became generally available.

    Fast forward to more recent technology innovations like the personal computer or the mobile phone and time for widespread adoption has diminished to just a couple of decades (if not less for modern tools and solutions like social media/networking apps).

    New tech, when it 'hits', hits much faster than ever before and its adoption accelerates across mainstream users much faster as well. Today's Chart(s) of the Day, courtesy of some research done by Voicebot.ai show just how prevalent the smart speaker, a technology almost no one had in their homes even two years ago, have become.

    Chart 1 - Smart Speaker Market Penetration - US

     

    About 20% of US adults are in homes that have one of these smart speakers enabled. It may not sound like much, but think about it - how many times had you seen one of these say as recently as 2016?

    Chart 2 - Smart Speaker Market Share - US

    No surprise, to me at least, that Amazon has the dominant position in the US in terms of smart speakers. They beat their competitors to this market, and their platform, Alexa, has become pretty synonymous with the entire voice assistant technology. If I were a company looking to develop solutions for voice, I would start with Alexa for sure.

    Once people, in their 'real lives' begin to adopt a technology solution in large numbers, they begin to seek, demand, and expect these same kinds of technologies will be available and tailored to their workplace needs as well. The data shows that smart speakers like the Echo and the Google Home device are gaining mainstream adoption really, really quickly.

    If your organization has not yet started to think about how to deploy services, information, and access to organizational information via these smart speakers and their platforms like Alexa I wouldn't say you are late, but you are getting close to being late.

    Better to be in front of a freight train rolling down the line than it is to get run over by it.

    Last note - stay tuned for an exciting announcement in this space from your pals at the HR Happy Hour Show.

    Tuesday
    Feb272018

    More from the 'Robots are making people obsolete' front lines

    I was fully prepared to write up a 'There's no way a robot could have done what I did this weekend' piece after having spent most of it painting some rooms in the house, building some furniture, and hanging about a million pictures and posters on the wall. The work was too imprecise, too unstructured, and required too much moving about in tight, crowded spaces for any robot (based on my current understanding of mainstream robotics capability), too manage.

    So after doing all that work over the weekend I felt pretty good about my ability to remain (reasonably) useful and relevant moving forward. I mean, between coming up with sort of interesting blogs, and general domestic tasks, (I am also very handy with a chainsaw), I had a hearty chuckle to myself, thinking about the doomsayers, (sometimes me too), fretting about the impending obsolescence of the human worker in the face of technological innovation.

    But these good feelings kind of dissapated a bit when I caught this piece on Fashionista (What, are you surprised I follow Fashionista?), on how some enterprising drones took the place of some fashion models at the recent Dolce & Gabbana show in Milan.

    Turns out drones can 'model' as well as (or better), than the human fashion models (at least in some instances). From the piece on Fashionista:

    It’s 2018, and as further proof that we’re already living in the future, what’s more fashionable than drones? Drones with handbags, according to Italian luxury fashion house Dolce & Gabanna, which sent a bunch of flying drones down its runway during the house’s fashion show in Milan on Sunday.

    Here's a look at the drone runway models as seen on Twitter: (if you can't see the video, click through)

    Make progress against the robots in one area, (painting a room in bad lighting and full of odd angles and corners), and lose it in another, (looking glamorous while showing off the latest in designer handbags).

    All this reminds us that the path to workplace automation, and the more widespread loss of jobs for people, is going to progress in spurts, in fits and stops, will surprise us in some ways and shock us in others, and is, probably, still inevitable.

    Have a great day. Let me know if you buy one of the D & G handbags.

    Tuesday
    Feb202018

    Learn a new word: Conway's Law

    Have you ever noticed the tendency for large, complex, and difficult to navigate organizations to create to create large, complex, and difficult to navigate products, services, and policies?

    Alternatively, have you noticed, (I am sure you have), how many startup companies (especially tech companies), who lack size, complexity and bureaucracy in their organizations tend to create much simpler, easy to use and intuitive kinds of products and services? 

    It kind of makes sense, even if we never really consciously thought about the connection between the organization, its size, methods of working, and structure and the outputs of that organization. But it is a phenomenon, in technology certainly, that has been observed for at least 50 years, and it has a name - Conway's Law - today's Word of the Day.

    Mel Conway, a programmer, came up with concept in 1967, and by 1968 it was dubbed his 'law'. What does the law actually say? From Mr. Conway's website:

    Any organization that designs a system (defined broadly) will produce a design whose structure is a copy of the organization's communication structure.

    Later, the Law was expanded to encompass not just the idea that an organization's communication structure would influence (and mirror) the systems that the organization produces, but the broad 'culture' of the organization has a significant impact on its products and services.

    Think of a corporate website, which often has separate sections of information that copies the internal organizational makeup, not necessarily aligned and architected with how site visitors want to consume information. Or an enterprise technology product that offers complex and lengthy workflows for transaction entry, routing, and approval that tends to reflect the creating organization's own internal processes and hierarchies that do not always reflect what their customers want.

    These kinds of examples show Conway's Law in effect - the way the fundamental elements of how an organization operates internally show up in the products they build, the services they offer, and more broadly, how they 'see' the relationship between themselves and their customers, shareholders, and community.

    I have written in a few places that when making decisions around HR and other enterprise technologies that HR and business leaders should evaluate the culture and vision of any potential technology provider just as closely, (if not more closely), than they evaluate the capability and functionality of a particular piece of software.

    Capability and functionality can change over time, and in mature markets tends to run together amongst established providers. But organization culture changes much more slowly, if ever, and no matter what new elements of functionality are introduced to the solution, the essential nature of the provider (and the priduct too), is likely to be pretty well entrenched.

    Have a great day! 

    Tuesday
    Feb132018

    HRE Column: Succeeding with HR Tech - Part 1

    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 talk a little about the one 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 review some of the key issues, themes, and considerations for HR Tech projects and vendor relationships that are essential, and 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 evaluate potential as well as current HR tech providers in order to have the best chance of making the 'right' HR tech decisions, and ultimately, succeeding with HR tech. This month's column talks about culture alignment, a focus on customer success, measurement and goals and more. Next month, we will take a look at 'success' from the internal point of view, and look at some of the most important organizational factors and decisions that set up your team for success.

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

    Anyone who has had the good fortune to participate in the full cycle of an HR technology-implementation project knows well that such efforts usually consist of numerous milestones, dozens—if not hundreds—of tasks and components, scores of internal and external resources, significant investments of funds and time and myriad opportunities for sub-optimal outcomes or outright failure.

    Choose the “wrong” solution and your HR tech project could flounder. Forget to ensure some critical capabilities will be supported in the new system in time and the “go-live” date could be compromised. Fail to procure the right experts to serve on the project team and progress could languish. Lose control of the project’s scope and end up with delays and cost overruns. And there are a hundred other reasons why well-intentioned HR technology projects fail to deliver.

    With apologies to Tolstoy for paraphrasing his famous line about families, I would argue that successful HR tech projects are all alike; unsuccessful HR tech projects fail in their own way. While understanding why some projects succeed and others fail is important for any organization, it’s even more vital to prepare for and execute HR technology strategies in a manner that maximizes the chance for success.

    As co-chair of the HR Technology® Conference and Expo, I am focusing on developing considerable content around the “Success with HR Technology” theme. With that in mind, I thought it would be helpful to examine the nature of customer success and highlight some considerations that HR and HRIT leaders should keep in mind as they continue with workplace technology planning, purchasing, implementation and post-implementation activities in 2018.

    Creating a culture of customer success

    During some recent research, I was encouraged to find that the concept of customer success has gained strength in recent years as an important measure and barometer for HR and enterprise technology providers.

    While each provider may have its own way of defining customer success, the important thing is that more of them are intentionally making the concept of their customers’ success a fundamental yardstick of self-measurement. Prior to selecting any new HR technology provider, HR leaders will not only want to ensure that customer success is one of the important (if not the most important) ways they self-examine, but you will also want to see demonstrable proof of their customer commitment.

    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 your driveway, take your dog for a walk, or scrape the ice off of your car.

    Have a great day!