With little fanfare and a constant rush of incremental news bites, 2010 didn’t always feel like a lot was happening. In hindsight, there was a TON of structural change in the HR Industry. New powerhouses emerged. The focus of HR underwent a series of profound shifts. Years of impoverishment in marketing and sales investments began to show as structural weakness.
Here are the high points of the year we are wrapping up.
- Continued Economic Insecurity and High Unemployment
“It’s the economy, stupid.” That was the underlying theme of Bill Clinton’s successful political campaigns. It’s truer now than ever. Fear mongers try to scare HR Execs about pending attrition problems when the economy changes. The real issue is that organizational decision making is getting really conservative as people try to insulate themselves from making observable mistakes. The problem isn’t pending attrition, though. It’s that current attrition isn’t high enough.
- Social Media Continues To Blur The Distinction Between Work and Family
The bizarre notion that everyone should be polishing their social media image for the consumption of the resume police distracts from the larger question. Social Media in general (and Facebook in particular) allow no distinction between the public and private spheres. Everyone can know everything about everyone else when your friends, family and coworkers see the intimate details of your status updates. Stodgier companies are not getting comfortable with the increased casualness implied in this ground-leveling. Where hierarchical governance depends on a separation between work and not work, organizational effectiveness is declining.
- Shifting Media Landscape
Social media, changing generational dynamics, structural workforce changes and a rearrangement of priorities in HR and Recruiting are among the factors driving major change in the industry’s media landscape. Traffic to older more established properties are down. HR.com (-67%), Recruitingblogs(-57%), Workforce (-26%), ERE (-31%) and SHRM (-17%). New projects HRExaminer (our sentimental favorite) and TLNT are among the destinations to which traffic is flowing and increasing. Upstart Fistful of Talent (+57%) is growing rapidly. 2011 will be a major transition year for web based publications in the space. Harder to quantify decentralized journalism in blogs, web radio and Twitter are major forces in this redesign of the media ecology.
- Workday Redefines The HR Software Category
Have you noticed that legacy software always looks old and feels clunky? That’s because interface standards change faster than development teams can deliver code to an established customer base. The advantage of starting a software company from scratch is that you get to start where the standards are today. (The disadvantage is that you have to win accounts from existing contractual relationships with other providers.) Workday bravely entered the enterprise HR Software game this year. Their offering is reshaping the expectations of customers everywhere. Find your way to a place where you can see a demo.
- SuccessFactors Changes The Conversation
There are strongly mixed opinions about whether or not performance management is a good thing or a bad thing. But, operational managers will always prefer direct accountability to touchy freely concepts like synergy and teamwork. SuccessFactors, armed with massive promotional resources and a really good idea, has changed the fundamental HR conversation. Where HR’s role used to be administering the Performance Management and objective setting process, SuccessFactors makes it possible to use that process to drive execution at the line level. We’re noticing that people are busier and more effective everywhere we look.
- Learning Takes Center Stage
When growth was the norm, Recruiting was the best place to invest real HR dollars. Talent acquisition was always harder than talent development. Churn was an implicit part of the headcount equation. While it remains to be seen whether or not this is a permanent thing, Learning (we used to call it training) is moving to the forefront of strategic HR thinking. Making your workforce agile depends on being able to redeploy existing employees. Cheap video, YouTube production standards, Bite Sized content and employee self-service are turning the old Training Department into a cafeteria of choice. Talent Management is the phrase word used to describe this shift in priorities.
- SABA Drives HR’s Role in Communications
We reviewed SABA’s communications and collaboration toolset earlier this fall. While there will be some heated debate between IT and HR about who should be in charge of the collaboration environment, it seems like a logical win for HR. Collaboration is a world in which technology should be extremely transparent. As long as HR takes up the challenge and works to make the platform recede behind the energy of collaboration, this is an amazing new frontier. SABA is likely to continue to lead the way.
- Video Grabs Traction
Say all you want about the propensity of video to cause discrimination. Hiring managers want to see people before they interview them. While conservative HR decision making (see economic insecurity above) will keep video interviewing and screening out of some organizations for a while longer, it’s here to stay. Video saves travel money, time and creates an environment for better decision making. 2010 was the year that the trend moved decidedly towards the use of video.
- Differentiation is at an All Time Low
For the most part, you simply can’t tell one HRTech Vendor from another. And, the vendors don’t know it. They are so busy believing their flimsy marketing materials that they can’t see the erosion of their brand. This difficult state of affairs began when vendors cut their marketing and sales functions to protect their technical core. Without guidance from marketing and sales, the development teams created a whole slew of new functionality. It looks like a marketplace of Swiss Army Knife purveyors.
Those are the key notes from my 2011. What did you see?