HR Technology


Today is my last day at Gartner.

The last 5 1/2 years have flown by. I have learnt more than I imagined I could, and probably forgotten more too. I’ve done over 3000 inquiries, written over 100 research notes, led several magic quadrants, attended 100s of Research communities, spoke at numerous conferences and strategy days.  I’ve worked with fascinating colleagues, users and vendors from around the world.  I consider many of them to be friends, even though we have met so rarely in person.

It has been a blast, and I will look upon my time at Gartner with a deep fondness.  The way Gartner has handled my departure only increases my respect for the organization.  I expect to see Gartner’s HCM research grow from strength to strength.

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5 years of conferences.
So if it has been so good, why change?  As an analyst, you advise, you can suggest and you may even influence markets. That influence gave me a tremendous sense of satisfaction and respect for the responsibility that the role brings. But for the past few months I’d begun to wonder whether I wanted to remain an analyst for the rest of my career or not. I wasn’t really sure, but I felt a nagging itch. It took a while, but I have figured out what that itch is. It is the itch to build something.
This weekend I will be getting on a plane to Sapphire, the SAP annual conference,  not as a Gartner analyst, but as a SuccessFactors employee. I’m going to be the product manager for Employee Central. You can see the welcoming press release here.
I’m nervous, as I will need to learn a whole new raft of skills. I’m excited for the very same reasons.
Some of you reading this will know that I worked for SAP before joining Gartner, so you may be wondering why join SuccessFactors, which is part of SAP?  Here are my reasons.
  1. I reckon this is the most exciting job at the most exciting company  in HCM technology today.
  2. More broadly, HCM technology is the most dynamic place in application software now. What happens in HCM today will shape enterprise applications for the next 20 years. The investment, focus and market landscape is fundamentally different from where it was 5 years ago.
  3. Successfactors very rapidly developed a market leadership position in Talent Management software, and they have the opportunity to do the same in cloud core HRMS. Combining SAP’s deep experience and massive presence  in core HRMS and Successfactors will make for a powerful combination.  I think I can help make them work better together.  I understand  some of SAP’s strengths and weaknesses, its culture and how to get things done.
  4. There is no better salesforce in enterprise software. When aligned, is remarkable.
  5. The leadership team at SuccessFactors and SAP have very clear idea of what they would like me to do. I have seen too many analysts be hired into strategy roles, and then whither on the vine of large vendor politics. It is crystal clear that my fundamental job is to lead the team building Employee Central. This will be a massive challenge. I look forward to the learning curve.
  6.  In the 1995 Klaus Tschira, one of the SAP founders, impressed me so much with his vision for HR technology that  I convinced my wife that we needed to move to Germany. There is much in that vision that still needs to be built, so in a sense I have unfinished business with SAP.
My day today is tinged with feelings of farewell, but I can’t wait to start my new role .
To my colleagues at Gartner, I’ll reiterate my thanks for 5 fabulous years.
To my new colleagues at SuccessFactors and  SAP, thanks for the lovely welcome.

Continuing my attempts to bring Shakespeare into as many posts as I can….

Let specialties be therefore drawn between us,
That covenants may be kept on either hand.

(Taming of the Shrew  II. i. 127-8)

A couple of weeks ago, I presented at the HR Technology Conference in Chicago, the topic being SaaS Contracts:  how not to get ripped off.  I made an animation to start the presentation, as talking about contracts can be a bit dry.

 

If the embedded version doesn’t behave,  watch it here.    My goal was to show the naivete of the typical buyer when dealing with a smooth salesperson. In the space of about 2 minutes, the buyer makes at least 9 major blunders. See if you can spot them. It is supposed to be funny, but I’ll let you be the judge of that.

A week or so after the event I did a podcast  on the Bill Kutik Radio Show, where I go into a bit more detail.  Have a listen here.  I’m not a lawyer, so this doesn’t constitute legal advice, but I’m saddened by the ignorance on the side of the buyer, and the willingness of the seller to exploit that. That is business, I guess.

Or as Camillo said in   The Winter’s tale:

You pay a great deal too dear for what’s given freely.

Also we have a lot of research on how to buy cloud/SaaS solutions.  Gartner clients should definitely check out Alexa Bona’s  research. Whether buying or selling, getting a fair contract is best in the long run.

(I’m very impressed with the Xtranormal tool for animation. I checked with their legal folks on usage, what a pleasure to deal with them).

Gosh. I’m very pleased, read ecstatic,  that I’m not going to Vegas for what seems like the 400th time.  I get to go to Chicago, Chicago, that wonderful town.

For the past few years I’ve gone to HR tech I have managed to largely lurk in the background. This year I have a couple of speaking gigs, so a bit more limelight.

Bill runs a very good show.  The sessions are always well prepared, and the event runs like clockwork.

My main session is on SaaS Contracts. Rather provocatively titled,” How not to get ripped off.”   I’m combining some deep research from Alexa Bona and my colleagues at Gartner with my experiences over the last 5 years reviewing contracts, and musing on vendor and buyer foibles.  Buyers attending the session will leave with a better sense of what to avoid and what to do, and I’m hoping vendors will learn a bit too and maybe squirm a bit.  The contracting behaviour of both buyer and seller leaves much room for improvement.

Buyers could learn from this legal document.

If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated

Points if you know where it is from without Googling it.

I’ll also do an expert session on big data. I’m not a big fan of the term, but hey Bill makes up the titles.

Things I’m looking out for at the event as I stroll the floor and attend sessions.

1. Business impact. HCM technologies that bring value to the business beyond the HR department.

2. Algorithms. The real power of analytics isn’t in the chart or the cool graphics. It is in the mathematics.

3. Global stuff, but defined in a way that means something outside of  North America. (Big rant brewing on this one).

4. Privacy aware and enhancing technology

5. Disruption in core HRMS

6. Social and mobile in something other than a demo.

7. A box. A magical box.

8. I’ll leave the debates about  cloud  meteorology to others. I can debate clouds with the best of them. I have an undergrad major in Geography.

 

I’ll be joined by a couple of other Gartner colleagues.  Jeff Freyermuth and Morgan Yeates will be in attendance too.

If you would like to meet with me please contact my assistant, Sharon Gray at Gartner dot com.  I will have some slots for meetings, but I’m hoping to spend most of the event outside of a meeting room.  Vendors  please remember that you can brief me any day of the year.  I’m especially keen to meet up with end user clients.

In the spirit of discounting,  which you will learn about in my session, I give you my discount deal for the conference.

Just use the Promotion Code OTTER12 (all caps) when you register online www.HRTechConference.com to get $500 off the rack rate of $1,795. The discount does not expire until the conference ends on Oct. 10.  This is a final offer so don’t even bother to try and get a better deal on another blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cross posted on my work blog.

I stumbled on this brilliant video today (hat tip to @williamtincup).

 

 

This is one of the better examples of linking corporate and employee branding for recruitment I have seen.

  • Low cost
  • Innovative
  • Targeted
  • Measured (note the stats at the end).

It cleverly reinforces the corporate and the employee brand.  I wrote a note several years ago now (client link here) where I stressed the need for organizations to get marketing and HR to work more closely together on recruitment branding. This is probably the best example I have seen of a company doing that. Ping me others that you have seen, please.

A clever play like this does put pressure on the rest of the recruitment process. Make sure you have good, solid administrative processes in place to process the applications effectively.

My colleague, Michael Maoz, has been critical of those that try to do Social CRM without getting the rest of their CRM in order.  The same goes for recruitment.  If you target your customer channel for recruiting, make sure you give them prompt, polite and top notch service, especially if you don’t end up hiring them. Applying for a job is a big step for most people, so treat that step with respect.  If you mess someone around in the recruitment process, the chances of you keeping them as a customer are next to zero.

Continuing this theme, a Belgian cartoonist, Canary Pete has a lovely take on the next stage of the IKEA hiring process.

 

 

My regular reader(s) will probably know that I’m a fan of the Guardian newspaper and its on-line efforts.  It does a fine job with data, both in terms of sourcing it and visualizing it. Have a look at the website and data blog here.   I’ve also ranted about the need for more numeracy in HR on a number of occasions. This post will be more of the same.

Leading newspapers are making  effective use of visualization today. As an  example,  the US treasury bond ownership graphic is far more impactful than a simple listing.

It goes deeper than just a nice graph though, at a recent lecture at Leeds Trinity College,  Guardian Data Blog editor Simon Rogers presented with Tim Berners-Lee about data journalism.

Data journalism involves visualising or scrutinising often complex amounts of statistical information.

TBL had this to say.

"Journalists need to be data-savvy. It used to be that you would get stories by chatting to people in bars, and it still might be that you’ll do it that way some times.

"But now it’s also going to be about poring over data and equipping yourself with the tools to analyse it and picking out what’s interesting. And keeping it in perspective, helping people out by really seeing where it all fits together, and what’s going on in the country."

It seems to me that most professions could do with a solid dose of data visualization and the accompanying scrutiny. I’m not talking here about expensive tools, but about the love of data, and the joy of finding stuff out, getting stuck into the numbers.

I’ve given a couple of lectures on HR topics, and I’ve been hammering home on the analytics topic, but I think next time, I’ll bring some more data visualization to the party. I strongly believe that we need to see more focus on data visualization across all areas of business, but the HR department needs serious help.

I was pleased to read that Google came up with its 8 rules of management.  At first sight they  seem a typical list that one would find in any airport management book, but they are rooted in an empirical study.  Google has built its business on analysing data, so it is  not surprising that they decided to root around in their own HR data.   I do wish more HR departments would fall in love with data.

I think it is possible to be “people-centric” and “data driven” at the same time. Using numbers  to inform decisions and drive buy in isn’t treasonable.

(Cross posted on my Gartner blog).

Atlassian is an Australian software vendor, active in the social software and developer tools space. I’ll leave the product evaluations to folks like Nikos Drakos, Tom Austin and Jeff Mann but I would like to call them out for something else.

I have been watching the company from afar for a number of years. I’ve been consistently impressed with how they manage recruitment, and I think a lot of IT departments and larger software companies could learn from what they do.

1. consistent use of twitter, youtube, flickr and blogs to position Atlassian as a cool employer.

2. Posts and video from current employees about working there. No complicated HR speak.

3. Engaging and dynamic careers page. with a strong graduate offering, including international placement, coding festivals etc.

4. Vigorous referral program

6. Executive focus on recruitment as being vital to company strategy

7. Excellent alignment of marketing and employer brand.

8. Effective use of their own software to help manage the process.

I’ve done a bit of research over the last couple of years on employer branding, and I plan to step it up in 2011.  I’ll be on the look out for more examples like this.

Dan Pink picked up on Atlassian’s “Fed-ex” days in a recent TED talk. You should watch the whole talk. It raises some important challenges for HR and HR technology. What are you doing to attract and motivate your employees?

 

I’ve just read Stephen’s note on the iPad in the enterprise. (Gartner subscription required) here is the summary.

CEO Advisory: Seize the iPad Opportunity Now

The Apple iPad and associated ecosystem are likely to disrupt existing technology usage profiles and business models. CEOs should take a moment to ensure that the potential opportunity is being seriously evaluated inside their enterprises.

It got some press coverage here.

If I was working in an HR IT department, I’d buy one myself and give it to the HR VP. I’d make sure that it had a simple dashboard (check out roambi as an example)  with half a dozen HR and business relevant measures on, some relevant alerts and their email, key presentations, some budget stuff and the Dilbert widget.

Then let him/her loose on a meeting with other executives.

I reckon you’d get a really good ROI on that iPad investment come bonus time. You might also get a whole lot more budget for a proper HR analytics project.

I’ve rambled on about the iPad and UI a couple of times.

I’m on the look out for innovative UI work in the HCM technology space. Both Kronos and Cybershift recently impressed me with their UX work for time & attendance management on the iPhone. Vendors, if you have done something innovative on the iPad, do let me know. Users, if you are actually using the IPad in an HR context I’d really like to know more.

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