Outtavation

On September 19, 2013, in HR Technology, HRExaminer, Industry Analysis, by John Sumser

As often as you can say the word innovation, it doesn't make these projects about innovation. Innovation is a radical reimaginging or an absolutely new method. Better ways to target me are a disappointing outcome.

As often as you can say the word innovation, it doesn’t make these projects about innovation. Innovation is a radical reimaginging or an absolutely new method. Better ways to target me are a disappointing outcome.

High Tech is producing little in the way of innovation these days. The people who brought you email, the internet, iPhones, integrated chips and network analysis tools are spending their hours on smaller things. It’s a surprise that after all of the early years, the best we can see for ten years of ‘innovation’ is Facebook and LinkedIn.

The industry is focused on the development of apps (those things that used to be a ‘menu items’ ). Today’s enterprise software projects boil down to

  • solving small, longstanding problems,
  • clearing customer complaints and wish lists,
  • porting to a new development platform, or
  • writing a single code stack from scratch.

As often as you can say the word innovation, it doesn’t make these projects about innovation. Innovation is a radical reimaginging or an absolutely new method. Better ways to target me are a disappointing outcome.

We’re witnessing the end of the era of admninistrative automation. What we are seeing is the coloring in of someone else’s pictures. There are no new coloring books.

Much of tech development feels like a bad case of Los Angeles Scriptwriter’s disease. “Well, it’s like linkedin for the whole person with a lot of evernote plus instagram minus the filters” or “It’s a ATS with an app store of services. Sort of like Taleo minus the doesn’t work thing plus SalesForce.com minus the salesmen hate using it thing plus assessments” or “We’re revolutionizing the hiring process by automating referrals plus background checking plus assessment plus eBay memberships, fitness, wellness and vacation trip management.”

For the most part, ‘pivoting’ has come to mean ‘adding more features in hope of finding a winner’ not ‘dropping our assumptions and starting over’. A flurry of HR directed investment money (bouyed by the LinkedIn valuation) is making a lot of comon sense leak right through the floor.

Last night, I attended the Smartup at SmartRecruiters HQ in SanFrancisco. The Smartup is a MeetUp of people interested in edge issues in Recruiting and Recruiting Technology. Last night’s panel featured an HR person from a data collection company, a startup CEO from an evernote-like company, an industry leading blogger and Smart Recruiters’ new amazing VP of product development.

The topic seemed to be ‘how social data will kill the resume’ although there was a heavy dose of ‘the resume is already dead’. The story played well for the audience (who are wedged deep in the high tech filter bubble). It seems less likely to make sense in Indiana.

SmartRecruiters is on to something. Fresh from a $10M round of funding, the frugal company is turning its sights on the enterprise market. No longer emphasizing free as a price point, the company now intends to unseat the existing ATS providers.

They are liable to do that.

When the car fins of the fifties replaced the rounded hoods of the forties; when the Beatles replaced Doo-Wop; when american govenments chage out after elections; when kids learn to like fish; when first drafts get edited; when bedtime stories get finished and when Steve Boese replaces Bill Kutik. These things are like what happens when you take twenty years of learning and rewrite it as a single stack of code. Lots of improvement, little innovation.

SmartRecruiters will succeed by being frugal, solving the snakes nest of problems that are the ATS and selling lots of systems. Using the word innovation as a mantra isn’t going to help. Mind you, SmartRecruiters is clearly going to succeed.

As for the death of the resume, it was never, ever anything but a marketing document. It’s a very useful marketing tool and will have the staying power that convention provides. (Have you noticed that people still wear ties?) The point of the resume is to get the interview, not to meet some boolean string’s worth of criteria.

While there is an avalanche of social data, the resume aggregators seem to be stymied by the vast majority of jobs that are not STEM or STEM related. The very idea of the job itself is withering as we leave the industrial era in the dust. People use the interwebs in a variety of ways to accomplish a variety of things.

Many people who have actual jobs are only able to give social media their passing involvement.

There are a number of teams trying to begin the process of making assessments fun. Meanwhile, there isn’t a serviceable guide to tell you what sort of assessment you need in which situations and how to understand their meaning.  You can’t move the ball forward without doing the fundamentals. Heh, it’s just like science.

For years, there have been teams trying to build the eHarmony of Recruiting. This time round, the people from eHarmony are doing it. It might work. The hurdle will be generating thousands of astonishing placements, people being put in jobs who change the face of the company. Otherwise, less risky approaches will hang on like resumes. (Note to self: Producing astonishing hires would be an innovation.)

As someone who was certain five years ago that all influence would migrate online, I’m astonished at how little some things have changed. A lot of smoke is not an inherent indicator of fire. Busyness is not innovation.

 
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