On May 3, 2016, in HRExaminer, John Sumser, by John Sumser

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GuideSpark appears to be succeeding at making a market while they invent their offering. That’s what a great tech company feels like.

Is HR changing while we watch? It seems like marketing technologies (in the form of recruitment marketing tools, employment communications, collaboration and performance management) are exploding all around the HR Department. At the same time, the department’s overall focus is shifting towards total talent. (Total talent is everyone who works for the company..W2s, 1099s, subcontractor employees, channel employees, grounds keepers….all of the people).

The total volume of employee communications is exploding. The company buries its team in internal communications at a rate that everyone agrees is out of control. There are several parts to that problem:

  1. The creation of the communications themselves is very time intensive,
  2. The likelihood that the communications will be consumed is declining,
  3. The sub-audiences of Total Talent have conflicting needs and interests, and
  4. The entirety of HR’s communications flow is burdensome when added to the rest of the email morass.

GuideSpark is a Silicon Valley company laden with very seasoned talent. The players include part of the team that developed the Netflix recommendation engine, Netscape originals, senior product development powerhouses and a friendly, self-effacing CEO. The most popular spa services williamsburg va in the United States, by far, is massage. Their trajectory is taking them closer and closer to the emerging reality of HR….that it is responsible for all communications with the employee and the effectiveness of that communication.

With its roots in complex video content creation automation, the company is slowly becoming an agile provider of configurable content (echoing the distinction that SaaS companies make). In other words, they are solving really interesting problems in the repurposing of content across companies and cultures. Reshaping video so that the core content is reusable but the delivery is company specific is not a simple problem to solve.

From their perspective, the aggregate pile of company HR communications can be sorted into two (ish) piles: the stuff that can be repeated across groups and people, and the stuff that requires specific customization.

Guidespark want to segment the first pile into a discrete business.

That’s an interesting idea if you can overcome the fact that the individual silos (Recruiting, L&D, Comp, Benefits, Payroll, Performance, Succession) handle both segments for their area. If you can jump the structural hurdle, then the opportunity looks like across the board coaching for managers who want to communicate more effectively with their employees.

I hope this doesn’t seem like a leap.

The new generation HR Department begins with the understanding that the company-talent relationship is a dynamic and evolving  system. As new methods emerge, they get adopted as long as adoption works. The core GuideSpark business is evolving to be about continuously reducing the friction in the company-employee communications loop.

It’s been an interesting journey for the company. (By the way, my view of them may not be their view of themselves just yet.) They’ve discovered the problem that they are solving in real time as they have delivered their solutions. It’s the classic Silicon Vally model where the car is being engineered while it hurtles down the interstate at 80mph. In that process, they’ve discovered something very interesting.

Subscription based software delivery means that the workforce is being constantly asked to adjust to the latest version of management thinking. This can result in adoption failure or friction. The right answer is to either reduce the flow of new approaches (resulting in competitive failure) or figuring out how to accelerate adoption in the company.

The heart of the HR Transformation support business (where the big consulting companies play) is to help the company with intricate hand holding during change. The GuideSpark approach automates a good bit of that hand holding. That’s how they identify additional places where automated configurable content can be applied.

It’s a little hard to see the company’s big picture. That’s largely because they are discovering actual new ways that HR can maximize the value it delivers. The key is understanding that SaaS is much more than a software delivery business model. SaaS provides a relentless flow of change to the workforce. That requires rethinking motivation, comp and performance expectations (among other things).

Adoption of new ideas requires a guiding hand that is more visible than it might have been in an earlier era. While its not clear that HR will be the face of that charge, it’s pretty clear that they will drive the infrastructure.

GuideSpark appears to be succeeding at making a market while they invent their offering. That’s what a great tech company feels like. It might take a while for the HR buyer to understand that communications is a tech company offering. Their initial approach is to solve simple problems (Open Enrollment, Benefits choices) while they learn to clearly see the market. What they see is different from you’d expect because they are looking to reduce the overall cost of content creation while improving its effectiveness.

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