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    Entries in Web 2.0 (5)


    Creative Destruction Coming Soon (or not so soon), To Your Mailbox

    My suspicion is when email was invented some thirty-odd years ago I suspect its invetor didn't think to him or herself - 'Wow! This is fantastic! I imagine this will render the post office largely useless, and put hundreds of thousands of postal workers out on the street!'

    Rather, once the usefulness of email began to be sensed, and it started to gain traction, eventually becoming the most incredible and powerful communications technology ever invented, its creators must have felt justifiably proud and encouraged by their brainchild. Email, and other web-powered technologies, have certainly helped to usher in the new, connected age. Email, as the first and still largest social network has enabled the type of connection, collaboration, and information sharing that would have been unfathomable only a few decades ago.

    And for the better part of its trajectory as a tool, email has generally been seen as beneficial and certainly today, necessary for the successful conduct of commerce, education, and even in the Facebook age, socialization. Don't argue with me on that last point, how many of you get your Facebook notifications as email messages?

    So while email has again generally been the 'killer app' of the last few decades, as I alluded to in the opening paragraph of this post, not all the changes brought about by email, (and more generally the connected, information age), have been so positive. And no, highly-paid professionals whining about the hundreds of unread messages in their Inbox is not what I'm talking about. If you're complainging about unopened emails to anyone, well then, you need to shut it. Talk to me when you have some real problems.

    Like, by manner of transition, the problems soon to be encountered by potentially tens if not hundreds of thousands of US Postal Workers. Certainly you've heard about the financial troubles facing the US Postal Service? Massive deficit, declining demand for their services, and a public seemingly not all that sympathetic to their plight. As this piece on CNN.com point out, people are sending 22% fewer pieces of mail than just four years ago, and according to the author, this drop in volume is largely due to email and other forms of electronic communication replacing traditional mail.

    The decrease in volume, (and for most of us customers), decline in importance of the traditional postal service is not all that surprising I guess. That's what 'progress' is after all, right? Smart men and women, (and in this modern age even kids), creating, combining, extending inventions and technologies that improve processes, create new and fantastic ways of generating value, and often, make our lives better, richer, and more fulfilling. And despite the whiny cries of spoiled adults, email has been one of those technologies. Most of us can't imagine a world without it. 

    But the demise of the post office and the postal service, and the likely redundancies of many, many thousands of good people still to come at least to me is really kind of sad.

    For untold millions of Americans, their connection to the world beyond their immediate neighborhoods and towns was solely facilitated by the postal service. Long before nervous parents could get an email or even a Skype call from a son or daughter away at college, or worse, off fighting in a war in some distant land, there was the letter home, and the anxious moments watching the postman approaching the door while thinking, 'Today's the day. I'm sure we'll hear something today'.

    That anticipation, and the disappointment that often accompanied a delivery of nothing but bills or junk mail is largely a fading memory, (or a 'never-experienced' memory if there is such a thing), for most.

    Soon, the postal service will stop Saturday delivery. Then maybe they will drop Fridays, and they'll consider raising the prices of first-class mail, and close lots of local offices and distribution centers - but some would say it is all, already too late. Email, and the nine million other ways people and organizations can communicate that usurp the postal service show no signs of loosening their collective death grip around the postal service's throat.

    But it has been a pretty amazing run. For a few cents really, even still today, you can drop a card or letter in a small blue metal box, anywhere in the country, and someone in a blue uniform will pick it up for you and after some under-the-covers magic happens, someone else in a blue uniform will hand deliver it  anywhere in the United States. In just a couple of days. For just a few cents.

    It is still, to me, a remarkable illustration of organization, process efficiency, and yes - even technology.

    Better take advantage of it while you still can. And start explaining to Grandma how she might not to be able to send the Grandkids their Hallmark Cards with the $10 bill in them for very much longer.


    Friend? Follower? Job Opportunity?

    It seems like everyone is talking about how organizations can and should be trying to leverage social networking tools like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter,  particularly for recruiting.  Many professional and corporate recruiters have written reams of white papers, given webinars, and created podcasts that aim to educate organizations on the most effective use of these platforms. But the truth is many corporate recruiters are still not familiar with these tools, and are not utilizing them in their recruiting processes.

    Recently a pair of Applicant Tracking System (ATS) vendors announced tighter integration with their platforms and the social networking platforms.  This integration can make it easier for 'slower-moving' recruiting organizations to begin to harness the social networking and social media space.

    The first is Jobvite. Jobvite has implemented support for corporate users of the ATS or visitors to the company jobs page to send job information and invitations to apply for specific jobs to contacts in their external social networks.  Similar to the familiar 'Share this' widgets that appear on most blogs and websites, a job listing in Jobvite includes a 'send Jobvite' widget that allows the user to search through Facebook friends, LinkedIn contacts, e-mail contacts, and also to Twitter, either as a broadcast JobVite via Tivoupdate, or a Direct Message to a follower. 

    Another really innovative vendor in this space is Jobs2Web.  Recently I attended a webinar that described in detail how Best Buy has partnered with Jobs2Web to create a different, and better applicant experience.

    Jobs posted on a Jobs2Web powered site can also be shared with job seekers E-mail, IM, and social networking contacts.  The 'sharing' widgets are remarkably robust, covering e-mail, IM, social networking, social bookmarking (think Delicious and Digg), as well as most of the popular blogging platforms.  This deep, rich and native integration from the corporate

    Jobs2Web via Best Buy

     job site through to numerous and extensive 'public' social platforms is a truly breakthrough piece of technology. Jobvite and Jobs2Web have both delivered impressive functionality that delivers on the true potential of social media and the desire of many HR and recruiting professionals to better leverage this space.

    This native integration from these two relatively smaller vendors underscores and emphasizes the significant functional deficiencies in many of the more established enterprise systems, particularly the ATS modules of the major ERP vendors. For example, the ATS module of Oracle's E-business suite, iRecruitment, does not offer social integration, RSS feeds, or support native social bookmarking.  The 'breakthrough' capability is the ability to manually enter a friend's email address to forward a link. 

    This was 'cutting-edge' in 2002 maybe, but today it is incredibly substandard.

    JobVite and Jobs2Web represent some of the most progressive and innovative functionality in this space, and I would encourage any one looking to improve or enhance their corporate recruitment systems to give them a long look.

    Maybe that next Facebook update you see will be a job opportunity from a friend, instead of a friend request from that guy/girl from High School you only half remember.

    Update : This 'Tell a Friend' widget from SocialTwist is the same one the is used by JobVite and Jobs2Web on their platforms to enable 'social sharing'.

    SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend


    HR and New Technology

    Over the cold, snowy weekend read this quote from Gartner's 'The Effects of Social Software on Your Employer Brand'

    The typical HR department's failure to understand or take seriously social software and its effect on employer brand and Generation V is a significant weakness, and it will affect the ability to reach Web-savvy candidates and to mine the company's current talent base.

    Flickr - Matt Hamm


    The article goes on to exhort HR departments to take a few simple starting steps to begin to understand the Social Software environment and the potential impact on your Employer Brand.  Here a just a few simple, basic, and essentially free steps that any HR Department can take starting right now:

    1. Start listening - review what employees and prospects are saying on Twitter, Glassdoor, and by Google Blog searches
    2. Create some simple 'Day in the Life' videos hosted by some of your superstar or well-know employees and post them on YouTube
    3. Create a survey or wiki page to collect and evaluate real candidate's experience and impression with your employer brand, your corporate website, and your application processes.  You may think you have a great site and simple process, but it doesn't matter what you think, it matters what the candidates think.  If you wnat to be bold, embed a Meebo chat room on your job site, and start interacting with candidates in real-time.
    4. Start a blog. If your HR director does not blog at all, you are missing a huge opportunity.  The HR Director's title really could be 'Chief Talent Marketer'.  So marketl!
    5. This one is important - Get out of the HR Department (yes, put down those files, I9 forms, and direct deposit authorizations) for a while and talk to your Marketing, PR, and even IT departments about what they are doing in Social Software.  Learn from their experiences and explorations and see if you can't leverage the internal experience for your HR initiatives.

    There are loads of other approaches and opportunities for the informed HR pro to start leveraging and exploiting the new landscape. I won;t go on and on, if you want an even longer list, see Michael Specht's excellent list on 52 Social Media Ideas for HR.

    The point really is, You can't get away much longer as an HR department ignoring these opportunities.

    Otherwise, you'll still be pringing three-fold 'It's fun to work here' brochures and feeling satisfied.



    Where is my choir?

    Since I have been researching and teaching my HR Technology class I have tested a really large number of web services, software programs and concepts in my preparation for class. 

    Certainly many are the most obvious types of products that would have direct application to the study of HR Technology, vendors  like SuccessFactors, Halogen, Taleo, and SpectrumHR come to mind. 

    But I found that as the class content started to evolve and mature I introduced Twitter, Second Life, Socialtext, PbWiki and SelectMinds.

    And I have even spent time on the 'utility' type Web 2.0 services, while not really designed for HR applications, could certainly support many HR initiatives.  Some of my favorites are Zoho, Box, Meebo, FlickR,and Slideshare.

    And like any good worker, I have tried to educate our internal HR folks and other colleagues on some of these tools and services.  And while I fully understand that we are knee-deep in the muck of a train wreck of an Oracle R12 upgrade (a whole other story for a different post), I have been really disappointed in the general lack of interest in exploring quite frankly any of these tools in our own organization.

    The couple of folks I could convince to get on Twitter are sure it is a goof.  Two different attempts at kick-starting some internal wiki development are stalled (I still post to it, I am stubborn), and you would have thought I committed a crime when I told an internal training class that the presentation was on SlideShare and I would gladly give them the link.

    (Here they are by the way - I know they are ugly have not had time to make them over)

    Irc Training Slides
    View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: irecruitment recruitment)

    I know, people are busy, don't bother them with superfluous garbage like Twitter and Yammer.  Leave Facebook for the Admissions department.  I wonder if this organization will ever be ready to embrace the new Web 2.0 world.

    And I also wonder how long it makes sense to keep preaching, when there seems to be no choir?


    Is Higher Ed that much different?

    A few weeks ago I discovered something that at the same time is both interesting and disappointing.  Simple searches for our 'brand' name on Flickr,  YouTube, and Facebook yield respectively an offensive (but amusing) photo, a video of a low point in the school's athletics past, and a whole bunch of unrelated garbage.

    I have brought this to the attention of a few colleagues and have more or less been met with questions, (What is Flickr?), amusement, and indifference.

    I have to think if we were Coca-Cola, or Walmart, or Wegmans, this would be very important to us. 

    But does this kind of presence (or lack therof) in the Web 2.0 world matter to higher education?

    I am thinking that it should.