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Social HR Technologies Beginning to Impact Full Employee Lifecycle

Social HR has been with us for some time now, with vendors, analysts, and pundits arguing its benefits for just as long. But the jury has still largely been out on these technologies from the practitioner perspective. In fact, in a statistic that we recently cited from Ventana Research, fully 39% of organizations still “explicitly deny people the opportunity to interact using [these collaborative technologies]”. And in a related study from SilkRoad (The Social Media and Workplace Report), only 43% of employees indicated that they worked for companies in which social media access was completely open in the workplace. So what gives? Why the stark contrast between what the HR technology communities are advocating versus what executives are adopting?

Well, for one thing many have argued (including us) that social HR applications are overhyped—delivering only a modicum of the benefits that are being touted. For another, Blogging4Jobs’ latest survey found that 46% of company leaders believe that their employees “will misuse social media and other workplace technology”. More likely though from a business leader perspective is that the issue revolves around trying to nail down exactly how to leverage social HR technologies. Social learning is fairly well established; social recruiting will soon be reaching mainstream adoption; and social performance management is still on the acceptance fringes; but it’s the whole-scale integration that social HR technologies are having across the employee lifecycle that can be the most puzzling. To help remedy at least a bit of the confusion, we decided to talk about in this blog post where we see social HR’s 4 main infusion points. More ...

Author By Micah Fairchild        Calendar November 5        Trackback Permalink        Comments (0)        Filed In Posted in Social HR



Rewards and Recognition Applications Trending Up

With recent announcements from the likes of RoundPegg and Globoforce at this year’s HR Technology Conference; and acquisitions of Sonar6 and Rypple in the not-too-distant-past; it’s becoming quite clear that reward and recognition (and the corollarily-related engagement) applications are in the throes of a renaissance. What’s not quite so clear is why. After all, reward and recognition programs have long been a staple of the performance management diet; celebrating years of service or other inane aspects of the employment relationship. Yet few proponents would argue that organizations have lived and died by their ability to recognize and incent top performers. As Bersin & Associates’ Stacia Garr puts it though, “the business world and, consequentially, the workplace [has] changed substantially over the last five years”.

Maybe this change revolves around organizations getting wise to the fact that good employees are increasingly hard to attract and retain. Perhaps it’s simply a by-product of a new generation coming of age in the workforce. Or maybe as Garr and countless others have suggested, economic circumstances, flattening organizations, increased competition, and technology are all factors that come into play. Whatever the case may be, the market for rewards and recognition software solutions is rapidly heating up. But with this escalating reward/recognition trend though come a number of questions that have to be reviewed when considering whether a reward and recognition program and/or application is worth the investment, or suited to your organization’s unique needs. More ...

Author By Micah Fairchild        Calendar October 22        Trackback Permalink        Comments (0)        Filed In Posted in Performance



The HR Technology Conference: Research Reports and Surveys

In this coverage on the 15th HR Technology Conference, our focus turns to the announcements that took place concerning the research studies that were released. Specifically, our coverage here will detail the findings of CedarCrestone’s 2012-2013 HR Systems Survey, the Third Annual Workforce Management Trends Survey, and SHL’s 2012 Talent Report.

HR Tech Survey #1: CedarCrestone’s 2012-2013 HR Systems

Based on responses from 21M+ employees representing over 1200 organizations, these surveys have been an industry standard since the company’s start in 1983. This year’s CedarCrestone research highlighted where exactly HR technology spending is heading; what practices companies should be adopting to optimize that spending; and which benchmarks from the 50 top performing companies should be focused on.

As far as HR technology spending direction goes, 40+% of the survey’s respondents indicated projected increases for the upcoming year; with analytics, social, and service delivery applications netting the highest expected growth during this period (142%, 81%, and 57% respectively). Best practice wise, the survey revealed that: a) adoption of the full suite of workforce management applications delivers administrative savings and cost reductions resulting in 33% higher operating income growth; b) organizations with business intelligence (BI) that integrates workforce and other organizational data outperform those without such integration by 12%; c) early adopters of social-enabled processes show a link to 8% higher revenue per employee; and d) an Integrated Talent Management (ITM) solution continues as the direction linked to highest financial performance (with 50% lower BI costs).

Finally, with regard to benchmarking against the 50 top performing companies, CedarCrestone’s survey uncovered that 7 broad practices being implemented by these businesses. More ...

Author By Micah Fairchild          Calendar October 12          Trackback Permalink          Comments (0)          Filed In Posted in Events



Oracle’s Open World: A Closer Look Into a Giant’s Strategy

Another year down and, true to form, Oracle has just finished up there Open World conference where they boasted hosting the world’s largest conference for technology; with 50K in attendance and an estimated 1M online views. And although I’ll eschew the debate over who’s held the biggest event (I’ll leave that to the Guinness Book of World Records to figure out), I will say that Open World eclipses more than a few other user conferences in terms of size and scope. But size wasn’t the only thing at play for this year’s Oracle happening; and in fact this might be the first year in recent history that the HR technology market had a watchful eye on the company to see how it addressed the looming questions of cloud HCM, mobility, and its aging EBS and PeopleSoft suites. Indeed, with Workday gaining momentum (and press), SAP breathing down their neck, and a bevy of other HR software solutions like Ultimate seeking to take all the business they can away from Oracle, the company had some selling to do; and sell they did. Here are our top 3 takeaways.

Oracle Open World Takeaway #1: Executive Level Commitment

First off, the keynotes from head-of-the-household Larry Ellison, President Mark Hurd, and Executive VP of Product Development Thomas Kurian all delivered the same focus—Fusion applications are alive, well, and built for multiple deployment methods; not just the cloud. And this sentiment was echoed by both Steve Miranda and Chris Leone during their own sessions that got a bit more down to earth and into the applications themselves. It may seem counterintuitive that a company as large as Oracle wouldn’t be fully committed to their newest baby Fusion, but up until now the company has excelled only at dancing around questions surrounding the new applications rather than directly answering some of the more pointed posits from analysts. Most likely what we saw over the past year from the company was that Fusion apps simply weren’t ready for mass consumption, but they released them anyway—a tactic that certainly got the market talking, but resulted in clarity issues and executives distancing themselves from the solution. That said, with this year’s Open World it’s clear that a commitment has been made by the top brass to see Fusion HCM through and put the money behind development to make it happen. More ...

Author By Micah Fairchild          Calendar October 5          Trackback Permalink          Comments (0)          Filed In Posted in Events



Work.com: The Top 5 Truths About Salesforce’s Latest Venture

Not too long ago, we dedicated some time to a topic that we thought would have little to no interest or impact on the HR software industry: Salesforce.com’s acquisition of Rypple. While we were certainly taken in by the point that Salesforce was now getting into the HCM technology world, the fact of the matter was that at the time this buy seemed to do little more than add value to Salesforce’s Chatter. This past week however, anyone following Salesforce’s progress (or attending the company’s user conference Dreamforce) finally got a glimpse into what Benioff’s company has really been up to: the build-out of a new application called Work.com.

To be truthful, Work.com is in all actuality a rebranded and upgraded version of Rypple (which Saleforce purchased last December). And while more extensive from a feature sets perspective (e.g. new private workspaces for employees/managers; newer rewards systems, etc.), little has changed in terms of what Salesforce can do in the HCM software market. As to be expected given all of the recent activity in the HR technology space of late though, hype for Work.com has been at a fevered pitch; with several analysts even indicating that this latest offering from CRM-stalwart Salesforce.com could be changing how HR does business. Although we wish that we could share that sentiment and get swept away in the tide of publicity, unfortunately, for us this seems to be more adulation than substance. That’s not to say that there aren’t some notable aspects of Work.com, but they hardly measure up to the hype. To get at what you should really know about this latest Salesforce development though, we’ve put together a quick top 5 list. More ...

Author By Micah Fairchild         Calendar September 1        Trackback Permalink         Comments (0)        Filed In Posted in Performance



Recruitment Software Market Sees More Consolidation and Changes

Of the numerous areas of HCM technology that have seen market play this year (and there have been many), perhaps none have gotten as much attention as recruitment software. It’s one of the critical pieces of the talent management puzzle that Workday has been vilified for missing; and SAP was lauded for when they purchased SuccessFactors. And many of us within the HR technology space speculated that Oracle’s acquisition of Taleo was entirely based on gaining a cloud recruitment partner.

Of course all of this attention that recruitment applications have been receiving is for good reason. After all, at no other time in the history of the workforce has the attraction and retention of skilled employees but so important. So much so in fact, that even the Harvard Business Review recently ran an article for their blog (An Unlikely Partnership: When HR and Marketing Join Forces) detailing how an ever-increasing amount of organizational time and energy is being spent “selling” talent on the benefits of working (and staying) at a specific company. So it comes as no surprise to us when we see M&A movement within the recruitment software market. Companies (and therefore vendors) are clamoring for the best tools, the best advice, and the best data to help them inform their practices and capture the best talent. Just look at the Corporate Executive Board’s recent buy-out of SHL—this was an acquisition entirely built around tapping into a recruitment data stream; and one that CEB paid some big bucks for.

The latest news in the recruitment software market is that iCIMS has acquired JobMagic and that CareerBuilder has acquired EMSI—purchases that (while small) bring with them implications for the industry as a whole as well as further proof that (for now at least) recruitment is the process everyone wants to shore up. More ...

Author By Micah Fairchild          Calendar August 17          Trackback Permalink          Comments (0)          Filed In Posted in E-recruiting



IBM Acquires Kenexa: Questions & Answers

The latest news that IBM is acquiring Kenexa is big news in this age of HR software acquisitions. In fact, all you have to give is a cursory glance at the dizzying array of analyst blogs to see that the HCM industry is not taking this news lightly. After all, at the time of this post we’ve counted no less than 30 articles dedicated to this topic from the likes of IDC, Gartner, Forrester, Ventana, HfS, i4CP, and countless others. And the views expressed are as varied as the pundits giving them. Heck, it seems like everyone’s got an opinion on this latest M&A activity and I’d be lying if I said that we here at HR Lab were any different.

Specifically, from our perspective (which is one dedicated to analyzing how this news will affect current and potential customers for each company), IBM’s acquisition of Kenexa raises a number of questions.

IBM-Kenexa Acquisition Question #1: What Exactly is IBM Getting?

For a price tag of $1.3B, you would assume that IBM is getting the world with its purchase of Kenexa. Sure, this acquisition makes sense as part of IBM’s massive Smarter Workforce initiative that’s slated for $20B worth of M&A activity by 2015, but the question on everyone’s minds on this one is what that money is actually buying. So, let’s start with the basics:

  • Kenexa has a hugely successful Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) arm of its business that IBM indicates will be folded into its already-existing Human Resource Outsourcing (HRO) business. While speculation abounds as to what this conglomeration will look like, it is clear that HRO global domination is in IBM’s sights.
  • Kenexa has one of the world’s top survey platforms (in the same vein as newly-acquired SHL and Gallup) which means that IBM (much like the Corporate Executive Board) can now have the insight via big data that Kenexa has been able to successfully leverage with its current customer base.
  • With Kenexa’s former purchase of Salary.com, partnered with their advisory services bench strength, IBM now has the firepower to take on Accenture, Mercer, TowersWatson, and a host of other services firms through IBM’s Global Process Services.

More ...

Author By Micah Fairchild          Calendar August 1          Trackback Permalink          Comments (0)          Filed In Posted in HR M&A



HR Systems Research from Towers Watson Details Industry Changes

Each year, countless surveys come out that detail the state of the HR software industry; the latest innovations that customers are clamoring for; and the future directions that human capital technologies are taking. Much like other sites that aim to keep their finger on the pulse of the HR world, we’ve done our part here at HRlab.com to gather that data together for you and parcel out exactly what is most important. Whether referencing CedarCrestone’s annual HR Systems report for their analysis of workforce management systems integration ; research group Nelson Hall’s write-up of business process outsourcing; or even the multiple assessments conducted by powerhouses like Gartner and Forrester, the fact of the matter is that the surveys and analyses from these firms provide invaluable expertise when it comes to uncovering HR technology trends, best practices, and industry insight.

Our blog post this week focuses solely on just one such survey; the recently-released (and 15th annual) HR Service Delivery and Technology Survey Report from Towers Watson (TW). Though impossible to cover every substantive aspect of what this highly-anticipated research from TW provides in the time and space we have, there are several notable areas that you should know about. Specifically, two that prove out trends that have already been discussed ad nauseum are that the function of HR is undergoing structural changes; and that the shared services model is continuing to gain traction. Each of these issues, while at the core of HR’s transformation from a transactional cost center to that of a strategic partner, remains old news—and as such falls outside of what we like to cover in posts such as this. However, there were two additional findings that did catch our eye: HR technology spending and the fact that talent management and performance management remain the top issues for HR and business executives. More ...

Author By Micah Fairchild       Calendar July 21        Trackback Permalink        Comments (0)        Filed In Posted in HR Software



Mobile HR: Understanding the BYOD Challenge

Although certain functional HR areas are up for debate with regard to whether mobile HCM is overhyped, what is clear is that the use of mobile devices by employees and managers to access and interact with HR, payroll, and benefits data is quickly becoming a widespread phenomenon. In fact, a 2011 BusinessWeek research report (Mobile HR: The Global Challenge) found that adoption was sitting right at 32% globally (the leading region was Asia/Pacific at 42%, with the U.S. and Europe lagging slightly at 27% and 31% respectively). And even further back, in 2010, Gary Butler (ADP President and CEO) was quoted as saying, "Within the next two years, we're going to see businesses spending 35% of their IT budgets on mobile”.

Aside from adoption and spend rates though, part and parcel with this trend for mobility is the rising tide of employees looking to utilize their own mobile devices to complete these tasks—a fact that has caused a healthy amount of debate between both employers and staff as businesses try to understand exactly what the implications of personal phones, PDAs, and tablets truly are.

A product of the consumerization of the workforce, bring-your-own-device (or BYOD as it is more commonly called), is being driven by the fact that employees at all levels are increasingly deciding that they would rather use the same (and often more advanced) mobile HR technologies for both work and home. As a recent editorial in the May issue of IT in Europe magazine points out, “users believe they can be more productive using the familiar smartphones they use every day”. Among other things, this approach implies a blurring of boundaries and an engagement that in one sense may gratifying for the employer (as workers are focused on improving efficiency and are prepared to use the best tool for the job; even if it’s their own); but the flip side of that coin is that the mobile BYOD trend can be a major headache for IT departments as they must address data privacy and network access control issues while also maintaining levels of support and service to a multitude of various laptops, tablets, and smartphones. More ...

Author By Micah Fairchild       Calendar July 11        Trackback Permalink        Comments (0)        Filed In Posted in Social HR



Gamification & HR: Synergistic In The Right Areas

At one point or another, we’ve all succumb to the latest game that’s trending at the time. Whether it’s an old-school video game like Pac-Man, or the more current Angry Birds and World of Warcraft, the fact of the matter is that we can get addicted to playing games—hooked on trying to beat an old score, reach a new goal, or outwit an opponent. But this drive to compete in the gaming world is no longer relegated to just pastime activities. Now it would seem that businesses the world over are tapping into the benefits that gamification and broader consumerization technologies can bring to the workplace.

Recent research from Avanade found that fully 73% of company executives view the fostering of gamification in the workforce as a top priority; with 79% forecasting significant investments in these applications by the end of 2012. Gartner has weighed in on the trend, predicting that by 2015, 50+% of all organizations will manage innovation activities through gamification and 70% of the Global 2000 will use game tactics via at least one gamified application. The larger question though is whether this is simply a trend of the next-best-thing, or if gamification’s hype has outpaced its utility.

From the HR perspective, gamification is simply the process of applying game theory (i.e. techniques and mechanics) to help solve organizational problems, engage current and prospective employees, and generally drive uptake of whatever HR intervention initiative is targeted. And on the surface, it seems fairly straightforward. Yet, for all the potential it might hold, the reality is that perception is still a major factor in why majority adoption has not occurred. After all, for those businesses still on the fringes of innovation (e.g. social HR technology uptake—which there are many), the idea of playing games just doesn’t sit well. In their minds, business is about work and games are about play; never the two shall meet. Unfortunately for those organizations, that perception is dead wrong; and in a recent Pew Center research brief (The Future of Gamification), details were given as to why that belief is misguided. Namely, the study found that “gamification could actually improve creativity, learning, participation, and motivation”—all critical aspects that the modern employee needs to have to be attractive to, and engaged with, a prospective employer. What the study didn’t go into finite detail on though was how each of the different HR channels stack up in terms of their appropriateness for gamification—an issue that we intend to remedy here by addressing each of the most gamified HR functions. More ...

Author By Micah Fairchild       Calendar June 24        Trackback Permalink        Comments (0)        Filed In Posted in E-recruiting



The Top 4 Things You Should Know About CEB’s Acquisition of SHL

This past July 2nd (2012), the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) announced definitive plans to acquire London-based workforce assessment and “big data” leader SHL—a deal that looks to close just south of $700M. For those outside of the loop in terms of what the Corporate Executive Board does, think of them in these terms: CEB is a large-scale advisor, researcher, and provider of benchmarking analysis in the same vein as firms such as Gartner, Accenture, Forrester, the Hackett Group, and Bain & Co. Built off of a subscription model that takes information from its sizeable member base (225K professionals) and extrapolates that data to inform best practices and thought leadership, the Arlington-based CEB is widely utilized for the benchmarking intelligence that can be provided about a business’s competitors—a service that net $52.6M on revenue of $484.6M for FY2011. SHL on the other hand (much like Gallup, Kenexa, the Hay Group, etc.), has built their business around the decidedly scientific assessment world of assessment—a service that has allowed the company to gather (and more recently compare) predictive information on 25M employees (spread over 30 languages) for 40+% of the Fortune 500 to the tune of $7.8M on revenue of $209.8M for the same timeframe.

While those numbers don’t come close to the figures associated with Oracle’s and SAP’s acquisitions of SuccessFactors and Taleo, the fact of the matter is that CEB’s purchase is significant; not just because of the final bill, but because of what this acquisition means. Here’s our top 4 list of what we think you should know about this latest HCM software M&A activity. More ...

Author By Micah Fairchild     Calendar June 6      Trackback Permalink      Comments (0)      Filed In Posted in HR Analytics


Microsoft Acquires Yammer; Proving Social HR Tech is Still Sought After

"If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" At first blush, this oft-cited riddle from Twiss and Mann's 1910 book "Physics" may seem to be out of place in an HR technology blog, but after witnessing the dearth of coverage in the HR world over Microsoft's latest $1.2B Yammer acquisition, it felt exceedingly appropriate to start off with. I mean come on, social HR technology has been a hot topic for quite some time within the HCM blogosphere; so why the sudden silence? After all, the IT and CRM industries have jumped on the announcement—sprouting countless articles about what this latest acquisition means. Not only that, but IDC analysis pegs the market worth for business social networking at $4.5B by 2016, an indication that there's still a lot of ground to gain in the social technology realm—especially in the employee productivity application market where Yammer sits.

Granted, Yammer has only carved out a small part of that social software market (roughly 3% compared with leaders IBM's and Jive's respective 14% and 8.5%), but the company can lay claim to a 5M user-strong base (and a usage rate of 85% of the Fortune 500)—providing the solution with a bit more credence than some small-time social technology up-start. Nevertheless, the HR software's industry silence begs the question of whether this acquisition even matters.

Much like the long list of Yammer competitors (i.e. IBM, Jive, Telligent, Mzinga, etc.), the functionality that Microsoft gains with this purchase include the Facebook-esque (only private) capability for internal collaboration, community creation, profile/status posting and updates, and (most importantly) the ability to find and share information and expertise. More ...

Author By Micah Fairchild     Calendar May 24      Trackback Permalink      Comments (0)      Filed In Posted in Social HR


The Overhyped HR Application—Part 2: Mobile HCM Applications

With software analysts predicting global revenue for mobile data in excess of $1T by 2015 (Gartner); 50B+ connected mobile devices by 2020 (Ericson); and nearly one quarter of a billion enterprise business customers leveraging the cloud from a mobile device by 2015 (ABI Research); it's clear that the mobile explosion we've seen over the past several years shows no sign of abatement. In fact the IDC Prediction Team even thinks that adoption rates could rise to uncharted levels—fueled by a surge in downloadable apps, even newer mobile form factors, and mobile device volumes.

As an increasing number of applications enter this fray though, one of the many questions that seem to be going largely unanswered is how appropriate the mobile form factor is to particular industries. Sure, a fairly logical argument could be made for CRM-centered sales support applications. Likewise, manufacturing operations have long been in need of time and attendance based software that isn't arbitrarily tied to a desktop computer. But what about broader HCM (Human Capital Management) processes; is there truly a place in this new mobile world for HR mobility?

In this, the second installment in our four-part series on overhyped HR applications, our analysis turns to mobile HCM—peeling back the layers of hype to see if this HCM software is the future of the field, or just another part of an ever-growing feature set with little true utility.

Is Mobile HCM Ready for Mainstream?

To put it succinctly, mobile HCM is not ready for mainstream adoption. That is not to say that these HR technologies have no utility, but for now at least the function is following the form (when it should be the other way around). Specifically, with certain notable exceptions (discussed later), the current cadre of mobile HR applications are first-generation—dedicated to offering basic request/approval capabilities but little else. While obviously those functions can be useful, it doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of what mobile HR can do. Nor do many of these initial applications even come close to achieving the level of engagement that other mobile consumer technologies do. In reality, as Gartner's Jim Holincheck puts it, "The user experience has not been more compelling than what has been available for many years through a Web browser".

Indeed, it would seem as though a sizeable number of HR software vendors seem to just be checking mobile HR functionality off a list to get it added to their product specifications rather than truly understanding the benefits (e.g. enhanced productivity, engagement, etc.) that can come from a well-developed app. In fact, a recent Human Resource Executive column on HR Technology thought leaders uncovered that a sizeable amount of industry influencers believe just that about mobile HR applications.

Take for example Knowledge Infusion's Jason Averbook; who said "Mobile is one of the most overhyped [trends] because, even though it makes it easier to put technology in the hands of more people, the HR functions aren't changing to actually take advantage of this new technology." More ...

Author By Micah Fairchild     Calendar May 11      Trackback Permalink      Comments (0)      Filed In Posted in Social HCM


Capturing the Ever-Elusive Talent Acquisition Metric

While current unemployment figures may belie this claim, there is a war for top talent going on in the global business landscape. Not just a competition; not just a single battle; but an all-out war—and figures from countless analyst firms and companies support this. For example, Manpower's recent research (in their 6th-annual Talent Shortage Survey) found that 52 percent of U.S. employers are experiencing difficulty filling mission-critical roles. Likewise, studies from IHRIM (International Association for Human Resource Information Management) cite that less than half of CEOs believe their company "has the skills necessary to perform at industry leading levels". These aren't issues that highlight a glut of unused workforce competencies, but rather an indication that there are fewer workers with the skills that employers need. As such, it's no surprise that one of Aberdeen's latest projects revealed that the top employer issue is "finding the right people at the right time".

Yet, finding these right employees isn't easy in this war, and requires diligence and concerted efforts in order to realize the benefits that well-placed hires deliver. More importantly though, the endeavor of finding the right workforce necessitates leveraging human capital business intelligence—no matter whether that insight comes from the recruitment sources themselves or targeted process improvement. Unfortunately, as is the case when considering the larger topic of human capital analytics, it would seem that far too many workforces have not availed themselves of the metrics needed to truly put forth a winning recruiting strategy. Whether due to the fact that these organizations are mired down in the day-to-day transactional activities of personnel management (and therefore not measuring talent acquisition at all) or simply approaching the recruitment metric from the wrong direction (using activity-based or poorly-defined measurements), organizations are woefully under-prepared when it comes to assessing and altering their talent acquisition strategies. To that end, we thought we'd distill down the most important aspects of recruiting metrics here; combining a little bit of best practices, a smidgen of benchmarking, and a dose of HR software reviews for good measure.

Which Talent Acquisition Metrics Are Companies Measuring?

While far from comprehensive, recent research from Aberdeen (in conjunction with hodesIQ) highlights that the talent acquisition metrics perceived to be of the greatest value for organizations are "Quality-of-Hire, Time-to-Productivity, Time-to-Hire, and Job-Vacancies-Outstanding". Though we'll go into further depth shortly about the merits of these particular measurements, it's important to note that these 4 talent acquisition metrics are the ones that rise to the top. Still, countless others have been reported as well; including "top prospect recruitment", "interviews-per-hire", "offer acceptance ratio", "external hire rate", and the list goes on and on. In fact, all total, organizations like the Corporate Leadership Council have compiled a potential list of well over 100 recruitment-centered metrics—a testament to not only the dizzying array of talent acquisition measurements, but also of the confusion that assessing recruitment strategies can bring. More ...

Author By Micah Fairchild     Calendar April 21      Trackback Permalink      Comments (0)      Filed In Posted in Talent Management



The Over-Hyped HR Application Part 1: Social HCM Technology

You cannot deny the incredible growth that social has achieved over the past several years; and according to Forrester that trend is only set to continue (growing at a compound annual rate of 34 percent). For quite some time as well, the HR industry has been experimenting with the idea of how to leverage social technologies to the benefit of organizations worldwide. From the first uses of social media to amplify recruiting efforts to more current efforts to wrangle the ever-elusive topic of effective performance management, social HR apps have promised to be the future of the workforce—replete with real-time collaboration and fully engaged employees. Yet, for all the promises that HCM social software espouses, efficacy questions still loom large. Namely, do the benefits of Social HCM measure up to the hype? In some ways the answer to this not so simple question is an unequivocal affirmative (e.g. tools like blogs and wikis serve an undeniably useful purpose in policy creation, communication and feedback); but for many areas, it's our stance that the hype rather than reality has controlled the conversation—a problem that we take serious issue with. So, piece by piece we are going to look at the Social HCM landscape and see which areas are overhyped and which are not.

1) Social Recruiting Apps

From the broad-based recruitment capabilities of social networks such as Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn to the more specialized locations such as Jobvite, Jobs2Web (acquired by SuccessFactors and now owned by SAP), and Avature; it would appear as though social recruiting has all but gone mainstream. As Gartner's most recent HCM HypeCycle report highlights though, "While the ATS [Applicant Tracking System] market is now mature, the social recruitment market is not". Indeed, as the firm's Thomas Otter notes, "the [social networking] tools to manage the many interactions and to optimize the candidate experience are still relatively new". Even so, organizations of all types are coming out in droves to somehow leverage this social HR technology in order to compete in the war on talent. You can see the appeal too; for both applicants and companies.

For one, acquiring talent is not the same game that it used to be; and organizations have to work harder than ever before to convey their specific Employment Value Proposition (EVP) to prospective employees. Likewise, the consumerization of the workforce has pushed an incredible amount of would-be staffers in the direction of searching for (and applying to) jobs through newer social channels. In fact, according to recent Jobvite research, 64% of businesses said they have hired through social media and 55% plan to invest even more in it this year—a positive sign given the fact that fully 89% of job-seekers are using social media in their search. In the end though, the war on talent rather than the advent of these social technologies is what will truly solidify social recruiting's place at the HR table. Qualified workers (especially in knowledge-based economies) are becoming increasingly difficult to find and attract—a fact that makes social recruiting not only a necessity but also about as far from over-hyped as you can get.

2) Social Learning Applications

With an ever-increasing supply of HR software solutions from learning specialist vendors such as Element K and Blackboard; to the open-source software options from vendors such as Moodle and Docebo; on up to the full-fledged HCM software suites from Cornerstone OnDemand or SumTotal, social learning technologies have become one of the largest growth markets within the HR software market over the past decade. In large part this social learning boon is a by-product of the increased understanding of the need to tap into the collective knowledge that employees' house; and in many ways has simply followed suit from the success that the more mature social offerings of the CRM (Customer Relationship Management) industry have fostered. As Gartner's Jeff Freyermuth explains, "[social learning] software…acknowledges the importance of social networks and the need to access the expertise of colleagues and different communities".

The question is though, whether the quest for social learning technologies truly reflects business needs? For instance, is collaboration always needed to achieve learning outcomes? Can all topics that necessitate learning truly benefit from peer to peer interaction? More importantly, are all an organization's learners inclined to develop through online or social channels? Of course the answer to these questions is an unequivocal negative; and at no point should social learning exist as the be-all-end-all of the development world. That said, the benefits of these social tools are impressive, especially when one considers the fact that hallmarks of this approach are digestible content and continuous improvement—both factors that contribute to the highly sought-after element of engagement in the learning material. As such, though this social HR technology has seen an inordinate amount of attention as of late, I have to admit that the benefits live up to the hype. Just don't make it the only weapon in your learning and development arsenal.

3) Social Performance Management Applications

Of all the social HR technologies on the market, few raise as many eyebrows as social performance—especially from me. As you might recall from one of my earlier posts on the Salesforce.com acquisition of Rypple, I'm reticent to believe that social performance management could be anything more than a glorified Generation-Y attraction incentive. That said, with this past month's acquisition of the social performance management software vendor Sonar6 by Cornerstone OnDemand, it's hard to deny that the HR technology market is reacting to some sense of customer sentiment. Add to that this past week's TLNT.com op-ed from Saleforce.com's John Wookey about why a social HCM model (particularly for performance management) is needed and I'll admit that my resolve isn't as strong as it used to be. The fact is, as Wookey opines, "Given the history of how these [performance management] systems were developed and designed, the reality is that we need to fundamentally rethink their purpose". I couldn't agree more, but unfortunately it appears as though the pendulum has swung completely away from top-down historical performance management to a bottom-up approach with social. Neither of these approaches is flawless and a more balanced approach would be far more likely to elicit the type of results that organizations are after. As such, while I may be softening a bit, I still have to call this one like I see it…overhyped.

Bottom Line for Social HCM Hype?

As Gartner's Thomas Otter puts it, "Social software capabilities are impacting HCM systems today…[but]…the bigger business impact of social software in the HR context will be on the organization's culture". This in a nutshell, is the crux of the social HR technology issue. There can be no doubt of the tangible benefits that social recruiting, learning, and in some cases performance management can achieve for businesses; however, there can also be no denying that social technologies represent a paradigm shift that few companies are truly ready to fully commit. Indeed, while benefits can certainly be gained by deploying these social HR tools, savvy businesses will seek to stack those prospective gains up against probable push back—knowing that the greatest influencer on technology uptake is organizational culture. Given these factors, I would have to recommend a measured approach—taking realistic stock of how any of these social HR technologies could positively impact the organization; and deploying those applications in concert with established strategies rather than relying on them as a sole approach.

Author By Micah Fairchild      Calendar April 2       Trackback Permalink        Comments (0)        Filed In Posted in Social HR


Finding the Truth in the Great SAP/Oracle Debate

I must admit, with the way things have been shaping up in the HCM software market, I'd almost swear that I'm keeping tabs on a political battle rather than a software vendor back-and-forth. After all, one can certainly draw an incredible amount of striking similarities analogously. Two major competing parties which aren't vastly different from each other? Check. Said two parties taking up all the air in the room even though other alternatives exist (and, yes the irony isn't lost on us that with this post we're adding fuel to this fire)? Check. Said two parties in a constant battle to "one up" the other in the public's eye? Check.

Of course I'm talking about Oracle and SAP, the two largest enterprise software vendors in the HR software space who seem to be locked in a perpetual state of battle that has each one of these massive companies coming out with what feels like daily press releases. Of late—first, it was SAP with announcements about HANA, then it was Oracle's announcements about Fusion. Next, it was SAP about SuccessFactors (SFSF), then it was Oracle about Taleo; all bringing us current to SAP's recent integration plans announcement for 2011's SuccessFactors purchase (which itself triggered a press conference response from Oracle/Taleo execs). To be sure, none of these announcements is small; in fact each one listed above represents (at minimum) millions and often billions of dollars of invested time and resources that both companies have dedicated to driving future revenues.

And in a world where technological innovation and the electorate's voice have together started to craft new purchasing paradigms, both Oracle and SAP should at least be lauded for their continued efforts to stay relevant. However, one can easily get the impression that these announcements are simply veiled attempts to get the better of their opponent. So, in true HRlab fashion, let's see if we can't take these latest announcements and get to the truth and heart of the matter. After all, voters have a right to know all the facts about politicians; we just feel customers should receive that same courtesy. Here's what we can surmise after all the announcement dust has settled…

The Truth About the SAP/SuccessFactors Situation

Many months ago, SAP's acquisition announcement about SuccessFactors had the media abuzz. As we referenced in earlier blogs and articles on this subject, this acquisition was hardly a game changer, but nevertheless SAP's latest integration announcement sheds light on some key points that current and prospective customers should remain cognizant of. In a nutshell, the announcement was a broad-stroke painting of SAP's intentions to take current talent management investments (in SAP ERP HCM and Business ByDesign) and shift focus to SuccessFactors. While for the moment, SuccessFactors will remain an independent company that is only affiliated with SAP; as SAP's recent announcements indicate, plans are on the fast-track to make true integration happen between these two HR software players. If SAP had ever been lukewarm as to its HCM offerings, it's clear that those days are behind them given the amount of time, energy, and considerable resources that are being thrown at the SuccessFactors endeavor. Specifically, here's what we know: More ...

Author By Micah Fairchild      Calendar March 6       Trackback Permalink        Comments (0)        Filed In Posted in HR Industry


Oracle Bets Big on a New HR Software Market Buy, But Why Taleo?

Ask anyone that keeps decent tabs on the HR and HCM software market and chances are they'll reference that the biggest news to come out of the HR technology space in 2011 was SAP's massive payout for SuccessFactors (SFSF). "It's huge", many analysts said; "It's a game-changer". And of course it was a major purchase in a growing industry, but I must admit that I was dubious this acquisition would do anything that major to the market. While SAP had been tinkering in the innovation shop (with in-memory analytics taking up the lion's share of their strategy), the fact was that within the HR software arena, SAP needed the SFSF technology. Not so much in terms of getting into the cloud, but rather in developing out a next-generation end-to-end HCM software product. Yet one of the most oft-cited market reactions of this investment wasn't what this acquisition would do for SAP's product line (or consequently what would happen with SAP's brand), but rather what the purchase would compel other vendors to do…namely Oracle.

Analyst queries papered the blogosphere, highlighting questions such as: How will Oracle react to SAP's SFSF buy? Will the software behemoth follow suit and similarly seek out a smaller talent management vendor to acquire? Speculation reached such a fever pitch that soon questions revolved not around if Oracle would be investing in additional HR software solutions, but rather which solution the vendor would ultimately pursue. Of course, being versed in Oracle's latest technology advances in both hardware and their newest HR software offering Fusion HCM, I believed these conjectures to be simply blog fodder with little merit. After all, in contrast to SAP, other than rounding out its Fusion HCM suite with recruiting and learning modules, how could Oracle actually benefit from acquiring another HR software solution?

This past Thursday, (February 9, 2012) I was proven wrong, as Oracle announced intentions to purchase Taleo (a leading provider of cloud-based talent management software) as a clear reaction to the SAP/SFSF deal. To say I was flabbergasted would be an understatement, as unlike the bulk of my industry colleagues, I didn't think that a) Oracle was in the market for this robust of a purchase, and b) that Taleo would have made it to the top of the list. Seriously, why Taleo? I mean, aside from the obvious fact that Taleo has Recruiting and Learning capabilities (which would potentially plug serious gaps in Oracle's talent management software strategy); I can gather few reasons as to why this particular vendor would have been the answer to perceived deficiencies in Oracle's HCM technology.

While the purchase is a done deal (and Oracle hasn't exactly been busting down my door to get my opinion anyway), I still think it's important for prospective customers to understand what this ultimately means; regardless of whether an organization is considering Oracle or any other vendor's solution. So, let's address how this deal's potential benefits that are being marketed actually shape up. More ...

Author By Micah Fairchild      Calendar February 1       Trackback Permalink        Comments (3)        Filed In Posted in HR Industry




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