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Fitness, Inclusion and OracleHCM

On February 10, 2014, in HRExaminer, by John Sumser

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The theme at OracleHCM is fitness. Everybody gets a Fitbit. Figuring out how to harness more data about people, their interests and behavior is the next level of the game.

For some reason, I am riding around Oracle’s premier HCM World conference in an electric wheelchair. Well, it’s more like a scooter than a wheelchair. At any rate, it’s particularly odd to be wheelchair bound at this conference.

The theme here is fitness. Everybody gets a Fitbit. There are contests that can be won by taking the most steps. There are no awards for successfully navigating the casino in a motorized device.

After five and a half years of championing personal measurement devices, this is particularly ironic. The benefits to be gained from self measurement far exceed measuring the steps you take. But, for the foreseeable future, I’ll flunk out of the ‘wellness is the number of steps you take’ program.

(Without making too much of a fuss about it, the years of heavy travel, heavy luggage and heavy conversations finally caught up with me. I’m not going to be hiking the John Muir Trail anytime soon. I still can have the heavy conversations.)

Oracle deserves an enormous amount of credit for integrating the Fitbit into their proceedings. Wellness is the missing link in Talent Management. Figuring out how to harness more data about people, their interests and behavior is the next level of the game.

Our Talent Management tools are all about the job and never about the people. Wellness is a good segue into a conversation that works on the real fit between an employee and the company. Skills and Goals are overly simplistic ways of thinking about stuff. People are great big piles of interests, opinions, genetic proclivities, family issues, hobbies and more. The current HCM toolkit ignores this info.

And, it’s the most valuable info we have.

So, kudos to Oracle.

It’s worth noting that the fitbit device everyone gets is a version that does exactly what the first ones did. It’s a pedometer with a bluetooth connection. The interesting part of the device is actually the software that runs your account.

In the intervening five years, the technology has moved on. My current device is called a Basis. It measures movement and can tell the difference between walking, running, biking and swimming. It also measures and analyzes my sleep, measures my skin temperature and measures my galvanic skin response. It can show me the patterns of stress and the consequences of diet and exercise.

And its still early in the evolution of personal tracking devices.

The problem with being a large scale enterprise software provider is that it puts you squarely in the follower/late adopter category for related technologies. While Oracle is the first to demo fitness measurement as a part of HCM tools, the approach harkens back to the days before BYOD.

The virtue of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is that it allows the enterprise to focus on accomodating technology as fast as it moves. The downside, of course, is losing control of the data. If BYOD becomes a long term norm (and there is much to debate there), a better approach would be to have an open API for all sorts of devices.

Meanwhile, I’m busy trying to figure out how measurement based wellness programs avoid leaving out the people who can’t participate. Watching it from a wheelchair makes a bunch of issues more relevant. I’d hate to be categorized as unfit or less than fit simply because I can’t walk very well.

I have a whole new appreciation for inclusion as a question.

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