HRExaminer v2.49 December 22, 2011
Table of Contents
More Social, More Data, More Job Boards, More Acquisitions
Here are my forecasts for the coming year.
- Social Technology
This is the biggie and really transcends the HR and Recruiting category. End users will continue to bring better technology in the pockets than they have on their desks. The dissonance will drive early adopter organizations to look for real enterprise level social technology. They will find that the market is only offering unimaginative data aggregation and distribution.
Customers will begin to understand and clamor for technologies that cause actual social interactions in their organizations.Meanwhile, the 59% of companies that prohibit or aggressively control the use of social media at work will discover that they are the incumbents and employees are the empowered ones. Expect a few surprising clashes as the silly notion that you can control what’s in an employee’s pocket falls flat.
- Social Media
We are in the Compuserve-Prodigy-AOL stage of social media evolution. It’s after Netscape and before Google in equivalent internet time. Any of the current industry leaders is vulnerable to the next big thing (it might look like Path). No one has a lock on the social media marketplace.Like our currencies, Social Media companies are completely dependent on the faith and trust of their customers. It’s a pretty fragile thing. Investors know this.Expect a flurry of really interesting offerings that don’t quite develop a head of steam as entrepreneurs try to figure out the next level of the game. The incumbents won’t be standing still. The coming year will be infuriating for people who are tired of learning new aspects of social technology.
- Social HR and Recruiting
Social HR and Recruiting offer the opportunity to turbo charge our organizations from the inside out. The tools are available to relentlessly eliminate internal friction. Now that LinkedIn knows more about the insides of your company than you do (ie who’s connected to whom and what they are good at), there will be lots of activity trying to capitalize on that historical knowledge.The real time internal social web is where the long term money is.Replacing bureaucratic mobility programs with instantaneous access to the right people will create crazy logjams at first. As we learn to decentralize the internal mobility question (more like 2015, really) we’ll recover some of the agility that has been lost to low price, low capital thinking.In the long run, Social HR and Recruiting are the tools that make Human Capital a viable alternative to financing.
- Mergers and Acquisitions
Public companies are sitting on war chests and can’t effectively innovate. Small companies need money and are agile. M&A activity will look like the streets of Amsterdam’s red light district in 2012.But, acquisitions in HR always produce more competitors, not less.There is a hydra like phenomenon that happens as key players (think SAP and SFSF) are taken out of their markets. M&A is the opposite of market consolidation. Cut off one head and seven grow back. Expect the number of new entrants to explode as the acquisition pace get frenzied.
2012 is the year of the micro-conference. A combination of forces are driving the explosion of teensy weensy regional conferences.
- The baby boomer power brokers who run the big operations simply aren’t going to retire
- The next generation of leadership is creating its own alternative forums
- Travel expense continues to climb. One small oil price mishap and the national conferences are history
- Social media is proving that local expertise often trumps the advice of national celebrities.There’s something endearing and stimulating about the church pot-luck supper feel of these smaller gatherings. The pace is slower, the learning deeper and the networking more effective. By this time next year, we’ll be reporting the emergence of several ne conference companies and the failure of one or two.
It turns out that no one knows exactly what the term means. In 2011, smart vendors started addressing ‘influencers’ as an audience. This broadened the definition of analyst to include a variety of industry observers.The need for a class of professional filterers is driven by the relentless explosion of data about and for the industry. No working professional has the time or the perspective to make sense out of all of the new options that are arriving on the scene.The rate at which shiny new toys come to market is accelerating still.The need for analysts and observers is structural and permanentIn 2012, we’ll start to see some tough questions emerge about who is paying whom to do what. Careful observers will notice that the analyst business has become a chummy game of softball where few tough questions get asked (and where the response to tough questions is outrage from the vendor). Notice the rise in vendors who have simply given up on Analysts and taken to publishing their own self-validating statistics.
Transparency will sneak its little head into the Analyst quadrant in 2012.
- Software Companies
Definitions are changing. In the 1990s, software meant something like ‘process automation’. Today, you simply can’t deliver coherent software without embedded Subject Matter Expertise. Increasingly, software companies are repositories for expertise in a particular area and new software companies begin with that expertise.Operations like Sonar6, Achievers, RiseSmart, HireVue and Rideaux Systems all get better at their work the longer they are in the market. Each of the firms offers a deconstructed view of a formerly central process. Their value increases as they do more work.Old fashioned software valuation metrics penalize firms like these for keeping services internal. The investment community would rather see pure software revenues. But, the key to long term market innovation is to keep the services in house. One learns the value of the offering by installing it.
- Life Tracking
Personal technology is expanding to include a lot of self-monitoring technology. SmartPhones are becoming vast repositories of personal behavioral data from the passively collected location data to call logs and email. This flow of data is a source of insight for analysis and evaluation. Keys to productivity and individual improvement are contained in the data we already collect about ourselves.Life tracking technologies amp this up to the next level.Already popular amongst performance athletes, the instrumentation of one’s self is a key to unlocking creativity and synergy.2012 will be the first year that companies offer (a few, at any rate) wellness programs that focus on the use of personal monitoring. The lawyers will have a field day and then, a little later in the decade, we’ll get on with the new reality.
- Influence Measurement and Management
It’s still in its infancy but Influence Measurement and Management is going to get internal attention. Surprisingly, the first usages will be all about understanding which of the grassroots people are most influential about social technologies in the organization. Properly framed, influence measurement and management is the key to successful change initiatives.
- Reinvigoration of Job Boards
While job boards have been having pretty good years financially, they’ve been taking it on the chin from a PR perspective. As the market discovers that social tools are not really competitive, some of the bloom will return to the job board rose.
- Performance Management
As performance management finds its way, we’re going to see a lot of experimentation. The first wave of performance management software was all about automating a process that most folks would agree was screwed up. Annual and quarterly reviews miss the whole rhythm of the business. One generation later and we’ve come to understand that performance management software didn’t manage performance.The next iteration will involve so much real time performance information that it will make your head spin. Expect to see systems that allow instantaneous evaluation of bosses, subordinates and peers on a transaction to transaction basis. Expect case studies that demonstrate the power of always on performance evaluation. Expect it to blow over.
- Big Data
When incumbent vendors discuss “Big Data”, they mean that they have a lot of customers who could learn from each other. Infohrm (the company bought by SuccessFactors last year) was the original player in this version of the Big Data question.By anonymizing lots of data, vendors can create databases that help customers benchmark themselves.Everyone who sells HR software will have an offering that does this.
- The Actual Data Question
The real issue facing HR Departments and all of the systems that process HR and Recruiting data is the torrent of data that doesn’t fit predefined notions. It was appropriate to have the plodding development of data structures when data types and content evolved slowly.In 2012, people will start to understand that old enterprise data frameworks are handicaps.Imagine the difference, for example, in the requirements associated with a performance management schema that has 8 to 10 inputs per day versus one that was updated quarterly. Imagine further that the 8 to 10 daily inputs are spread around a network and need rapid analysis to understand the health of the network.
In 2012, HR data shifts from static to real time.
This year, on Naomi Bloom’s recommendation, I’m going to take a look at last year’s forecasts and give you an assessment of whether or not they turned out to be true. Look for that early next week.
Social Media, Bill Boorman, Naomi Bloom, Free Reports
This edition of the HRCarnival is focused on the coming year. It looks like 2012 will be full of opportunity. If you take some time to scan through the various forecasts, trend analyses and soapbox standupons, you should be able to develop your own set of tea leaves for gazing.
Of course, your day wouldn’t be complete without a review of the HRExaminer’s Forecasts for 2012.
If you’re not a Naomi Bloom fan, now would be a great time to start. She’s offered up a piece called Eight Characteristics of HRM and Effective HRM Delivery Systems. Generally speaking, HR folks shy away from the deepest aspects of HR Technology. Naomi makes a clear and compelling case that you can not do effective HR without a thoroughly integrated software system. You might think of her forecast as: if you don’t get tech savvy (and we’re not talking social media), you’re at risk of becoming irrelevant. You can often find Bloom with her key coconspirators, Bill Kutik and Jason Averbrook.
One of the most interesting pieces comes from SHRM. Future Insights summarizes the work of a series of expert panels who have identified key trends in the major HR Silos. While it reads a little like a series of manifestos created by committees, the work is though provoking and conveys the complexities facing HR Departments. Definitely take a look. SHRM also publishes an interesting Trend Book.
John Sullivan predicts that 2012 will be the year of the mobile platform. Sullivan sees social tools becoming more data driven.
One of the best kinds of forecasts is the kind that talks about your salary and your future. Take a look at this gem from Michael Page International
This outline, from About.com, will give you a sense of the critical issues facing a standard HR Department
Audio and Video Forecasts
Workday has a great webinar featuring Kutik, Bloom, Averbrook and Ray Wang called Predict and Prepare. Take a listen.
From TRU Dublin
If you look at this video carefully, you’ll see that Bill Boorman managed to integrate a few vampires (you can tell by their eyes) into this Irish forecast-a-thon. Everyone who attended TRU Dublin this week was given two word with which to predict the coming year. Apparently, the predictions were extremely dangerous for the vampires who turned the music up to prevent the secret from getting out.
This is the traditional HR forecast with an emphasis on the legal issues.
From Leo Burnett
Super Ad Agency Leo Burnett starts with the demographic, economic, technical and social realities of 2011 to build its view of 2012. The darkness begets an avalanche of collective action in a commercial context.
Consumers (who show up in our organizations as employees) have more power in their pockets than ever imagined. Burnett suggests that a new form of joint behavior will start to drive social change. Is it coming to your shop?
They call it “the transformation of aspiration”.
Best Practices in HR
“our market is large enough to entertain a huge number of mutually contradictory ideas”
- John Sumser (circa 1997)
The idea that one form of HR or Recruiting will work for all players has more lives than a cat. The notion that generalizing about the topics leads to fruitful debate persists in spite of its ridiculousness. The only truism that makes sense is “What’s best for your company may not work very well somewhere else and vice versa”.
As noted in the groundbreaking psychographic study, What HR Thinks and Feels, the Human Resources Department is often a conservative voice. In the subset of companies that depend on benchmarking, innovation is the opposite of what HR does. A large percentage of those HR professionals depend on documentation, certification and other observable qualifications for credibility.
Best Practices means, “it worked like this for someone else so there is little risk in adopting it.” In environments where HR practice is a question of keeping up with the market and staying competitive, Best Practices are perfectly appropriate. They are the organization’s way of saying, “we don’t innovate in HR. We wait for someone else to take the risk.”
The combination of vast generalizations and deep dependence on Best Practices is at the root of the lack of respect for the work of HR. By implementing off the shelf solutions, the function operates like the organization’s own ‘Men’s Wearhouse‘- all off the rack suits with only minimum tailoring. Anyone who looks closely can see the problem with the fit.
The truth is that every organization has to carefully consider where and how it innovates. It simply isn’t appropriate, in many companies, to make risky investments where the workforce is concerned. Companies that are busy protecting market share and mining incremental growth don’t need or want to turbocharge results.
There is a subset of companies, no more than 10%, who view HR as a weapon. They mine competitive advantage wherever they can find it. They compete hard in the traditional HR silos. They turn their HR advantage into market performance.
They are not typical. They probably shouldn’t be emulated until all of the risk is gone from their approaches. They sometimes prioritize Human Capital over business performance. This is risky business for most companies.
It’s important to identify Best Practices for what they are: ways to limit risk taking in an area where innovation is not desirable.
I spent Saturday afternoon in a bookstore chatting with George Anders. He was finishing up this years promotional tour for his book, The Rare Find. (You might recall an earlier review of the Rare Find in these pages).
The peak of holiday shopping time, 4pm on a Saturday afternoon, brought a small crowd. As a result, the conversation was a remarkable interchange between George, a startup mechanic, and me.
Anders is a reporter with a reporter’s bent. His work took him into a variety of industries around the United States as he tried to understand the ways that people find excellent work. It was great to get a chance to hear him push around the concepts in the book.
The Rare Find is both an exposition on the best recruiting methods and, as a result, a critique of contemporary Recruiting.
George rightly notes that hiring is one place where you can easily see the organization’s risk tolerance. The more averse to risk, the more that hiring looks like an attempt to align job requirements and candidate credentials. This is, in his words, great for buying lawn mowers, but not so great for hiring people.
Organizations that can tolerate more risk in hiring decisions reap the rewards of acquiring people who can go far beyond the immediate opportunity.
He is quick to acknowledge the places in which matching makes sense. “You don’t want to hire for creativity and entrepreneurial bent when you’re picking commercial pilots. You really want them to land the plane one way.”
Anders advocates and reports on hiring methods that focus on resilience, self-reliance, creativity, and efficiency. He urges an approach that identifies “leaders with the skills and resolve to succeed rather than getting sidetracked by the short-lived allure of glittering resumes and charming personalities.” He suggests that recruiting take more account of what could go right.
Without overtly saying it, Anders suggests that the culprits are recruiters and the established methods of recruiting. He notes that the best hirers are people who harness their experience in the job that they are recruiting for. The typical corporate recruiter is a technician who pushes the internal process. Great hires come from having dirt under the fingernails in the profession under consideration.
As next couple of weeks bring a relaxed schedule, take some time to read The Rare Find. Get copies for your hiring managers. It will be the best investment of time you made in 2011.
The 2012 Index of Social Technology in HR and Recruiting
By now, you’ve probably heard a little about the latest report from HRxAnalysts. The 2012 Index of Social Technology in HR and Recruiting is a comprehensive look at the new technologies that are entering the organization in the 21st Century. While they are generally lumped together under the rubric of social media, a lot more is happening.
The report documents the 16 different kinds of social technology and their ultimate place in the various HR Silos. While the organizational focus seems to be on the control of these grassroots technologies, what’s really happening is pretty interesting. There is very little that is actually social about social technologies.
The 2012 Index provides a coherent baseline for managing and planning the adoption of social technology by your organization. Useful for vendors, HR Departments and Recruiting operations, the report covers the following terrain:
- Defining the Technologies: There are 16 discrete kinds of tools that are moving into a dozen HR modules. Get a good understanding of how the technology will impact your operation.
- How Technology Flows in HR and Recruiting: Knowing how innovations move around the industry helps you understand when it’s time to execute.
- The Tech Adoption Curve and Competitive Benefit: Adding new technology is always a risk – benefit trade off. While early adopters harvest the greatest return, they always experience the highest level of failures. Learn how to judge when it’s appropriate for your organization to get on board.
- HR and Recruiting are Local: This chapter helps right size social technology and employment branding strategy. The audience for an employment brand should be no larger than necessary,
- The Networks: There are several major contenders for use as a foundation for your organizations approach to social HR and Recruiting. This section offers an analysis of the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities associated with Twitter, FAcebook, LinkedIn, Branchout and BeKnown.
- The Landscape: Social Technology providers range from traditional advertising agencies to Enterprise Software operations. The report showcases the unique perspectives of each type of provider and identifies the emerging companies that blend events and consulting.
- The Vendors: 70 companies are reviewed in detail. Ideas are praised and panned
- Forecasts: The next moves in Social Technology are chronicled.
The current offerings in social technology are early demonstrations of ideas that will mature in the coming years. Data collection and distribution are currently far more important than the supposedly social aspects of the technology.
The report provides competitive intelligence for solution providers, a detailed look at options for buyers (HR and Recruiting operations) and a way of understanding the evolution of these powerful technologies. Employment websote operators will find the information particularly useful.