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Hosts Stacey Harris and John Sumser discuss important news and topics in recruiting and HR technology. Listen live every Thursday at 8AM Pacific – 11AM Eastern, or catch up on full episodes here.

HR Tech Weekly

Episode: 14
Air Date: April 2, 2015

 

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Hosts Stacey Harris and John Sumser discuss important news and topics in recruiting and HR technology. Listen live every Thursday at 8AM Pacific – 11AM Eastern, or catch up on full episodes here.

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Begin transcript

John Sumser:

Good morning and welcome to HR Tech Weekly One Step Closer with Stacey Harris and John Sumser. This is John Sumser. Stacey, how are you?

Stacey Harris:

I’m doing good today, how are you John?

John Sumser:

I am delighted. The sun is out. The roses, oh, you should see the roses. The roses are amazing. Spring is totally here. What used to be barren branches are now a lush thicket of green. How is it in beautiful North Carolina where it should be spring?

Stacey Harris:

It is, it’s gorgeous. We’ve got the flowers out. We got a little bit of a cold snap that caught us off guard and some of the flowers off guard over the weekend. Other than that, we are good. I had family up over the weekend and last week. They were all from Ohio and they were all in heaven. They said they were not wanting to go home. We’ve hit spring and I think we’re done with the cold, miserable weather. Wherever everybody else is at hopefully it’s coming soon for you as well.

John Sumser:

What a winter this was.

Stacey Harris:

Yeah, exactly.

John Sumser:

What have you been thinking about Stacey? What’s on your mind?

Stacey Harris:

Well, we had a lot of things that were in the news this week. Probably the biggest thing, at least for me, was last week I attended Oracle Open World. Oracle HCM Open World, I should say. Oracle HCM World. We thought there were some big updates that were worth chatting about there today.

I also pulled a couple of their articles this week. SumTotal and iCIMS created a partnership in the last week. I think there’s some interesting conversation there about what’s happening in the onboarding space and why organizations are really ramping up on the onboarding capabilities.

Also pulled a neat article me and you may talk about today on a company called Face Affinity and some additions they are making to their board which gives them more interesting opportunities to grow.

Finally, we pulled a little article that came out of the HR Magazine for the UK that is on gender imbalance in the IT sector. I think it’s a great way maybe to wrap up the conversation today.

Do you want to start off with a conversation about what happened at Oracle today?

John Sumser:

Well, yeah. I’m dying to know. What happened at the Oracle thing?

Stacey Harris:

HCM World Event was kicked off by Mark Hurd, which you know is Oracle’s CEO in that area. Larry was supposed to be there. He was actually there but he got laryngitis at the last minute so Mark took on the conversation. Which was actually, to see both of them at an event is very unlikely and both of them supporting HR is a positive for the continued conversation that Oracle’s been having.

They let out some new numbers that I thought were very interesting. If someone wants to get all the insights on it I think Bill Kutik did a really nice article in HR Executive Magazine on this. I thought it was interesting to, if you’re adding up all the numbers they’ve shared over the last year and a half, it looks like they now say they have around nine hundred, what they call HCM cloud customers.

That includes for them some on premise organizations who are just starting to take their talent and management cloud elements too. That’s a number that’s not sort of full fusion or full core HCM compared to some of the SAP numbers that are a little bit lower but they’re basically only showing their employee central numbers. Same thing with [inaudible 00:03:56] following their numbers as well in this cloud space. They’re full core HCM.
We think those numbers all sort of need to be taken with that grain of salt. I would say from the conversations I had with the people who were on site, you can definitely tell that there is momentum and growth. Particularly momentum and growth with larger companies. Up to this point I think we’ve seen a lot of the smaller companies. So there was that.

The big announcement which I thought was probably the most interesting thing was that they were launching their Oracle Learning Cloud, which is going to be available in their R10 release. That was built from the ground up. The did not take the learn.com code. They’re leaving learn.com for the mid-market space. They’ve built for the ground up a learning cloud. That’s something, John, that we haven’t talking a lot about on the calls up to this point is the learning space and how it’s going to change this market. Are you surprised that Oracle built from the ground up a learning cloud enterprise suite at this point?

John Sumser:

I think their experience has been, remarkable actually. What Oracle knows better than almost anybody else, is that that the mid-market and the enterprise market are radically different. So, they have [inaudible 00:05:22] is another place where they kept separate product lines for mid-market and enterprise.
I think what I know about Oracle is that they are masterful about keeping configuration insight straight amongst a lot of platforms built on different code bases and addressing different audiences. It doesn’t surprise me because those people are so smart. I’m really interested in understanding what they did with the learning cloud. What did you see that was interesting in the cloud?

Stacey Harris:

They showed a couple of screen shots and a couple of examples. Didn’t get in to be able to allow for hands on practicing with it. They did talk about their social. They talked about contextualized learning. Intelligent recommendations, now that’s been out for a couple years with a lot of different LMSs in the market. That they’re building it right in to the beginning of their solution is quite interesting.

The one thing I thought and I’m not exactly sure how this works, but if I understand [inaudible 00:06:27] correctly, what they basically launched was this more object based oriented LMS. Which means the LMS becomes the piece that can be pushed into anything else in the Oracle product line.
That I think is really interesting because it’s ultimately what you see with learning and development is that learning and development really a tool or a support function for almost anything else that goes on in HR. That they’re building this object oriented component that allows you to push it into every place else, including their ERP and CRM components, that’s really interesting.

John Sumser:

Well, so somebody is going to solve the obvious problem which is that learning is something that happens in the moment, generally inside of a transaction. If you can figure out how to deliver the right information at the right time, you can take friction out of enterprise systems. Meaning, not in enterprise software systems but enterprise human systems. Friction equals cost and that equals a really good idea.

Plus, if you can figure out how to build the next step. I think this is the holy grail and nobody is doing it yet. If you can figure out how to anticipate what learning is going to be required you can move development along in a way that’s pretty interesting, making development a very customized thing.

Stacey Harris:

Exactly. I think sort of their nod to this which I think is going to be interesting to see how it works. They mentioned content providers that they’re connecting with but they didn’t mention some of the traditional ones that are out in the market now. OpenSesame, SkillSoft, some of the others, right?
They mentioned TEDs, YouTubes and MOOCs, right? Massive open online course content providers. They are building on this concept of individuality and in the moment which is what all those tools are all focused on as well.

John Sumser:

My big positive for Oracle is that they seem to have gotten the message that was in the streets twenty years ago. That’s that the enterprise providers were always laggards when it came to contemporary technology. Oracle seems to be pushing that envelope pretty hard. I don’t see other LMS providers who are as focused on causing explosion in learning content to become the insides of organizations.

Stacey Harris:

I think it’s going to change something. Yeah, it’s going to change some things in the next year or two once it comes out and once we start to see organizations look at this as a viable LMS. I think the markets, you’re seeing a lot of people trying to look at their various LMSs and they’re saying do I change or do I connect it to my talent system? Or do I take the talent system and connect it to my ERP? Oracle is betting on the game that people are going to be, to them, now Mark Hurd’s comment was this is a long term relationship, we’re betting on the ER, that people will want to connect to their ERP.

John Sumser:

What’s amazing about that, what I find interesting is you’re starting to see Oracle differentiate from workday in a powerful way. Workday view is that this sort of work should be done by third parties.
Stacey Harris: Yep.

John Sumser:

Oracles is very clearly building an infrastructure that means that when you get an Oracle account you’re getting a business ally rather than a software provider.

Stacey Harris:

Yep. Exactly.

John Sumser:

That’s cool, that’s a difference in the market. That portends some very interesting things because you can’t judge a market where some people provide software and some people provide an entire business. I don’t even know what you call it.

Stacey Harris:

Relationship?

John Sumser:

Business acceleration process. I’m not sure you can compare and contrast those two things.

Stacey Harris:

Very different things. Perfect timing, I think. I just noticed I was on Twitter and I noticed that HR Tech Conference, Steve Boese was tweeting out that they’re going to be adding various additional tracks. One of them being learning the other being recruiting. We’re starting to see this need to have these broader conversations in the HR tech community too, right?

John Sumser:

Both recruiting and learning functions are the moons of HR, right? In the core of HR, you look at recruiting, recruiting is an external facing, aggressive function even when it’s done as an administrative exercise. Most of HR is internal facing. There’s always conflict and differentiation in that conversation.

Learning is much the same. Learning is always pulled and tugged by the operational people in the way the rest of HR is not. Those two things have not been traditionally covered by core HR technology conferences. It will be good to see that stuff there. It will be interesting to see if they can take audience away from the learning conferences and the recruiting conferences.

Stacey Harris:

Yeah, I’m not sure that it’s more of an audience take away. It might be. I think what I’m hoping to see is that more HR begins to build an understanding of what’s happening in the learning space and the recruiting space at a broader level. They know it tangentially. They know how value connects to what’s going on with HR. It would be good to see some of that understanding broaden.

Which leads to the next one that we were going to talk about which is SumTotal picking up, well not picking up, creating a partnership with iCIMS. I don’t know John how much you know iCIMS. I know I probably know them a little bit less because I haven’t covered the recruiting space quite as much. I thought it was an interesting pick up from SumTotal who was just recently purchased by Skillsoft.

If people are following all of these acquisitions that partnership is interesting because iCIMS has some really strong onboarding tools. Really obviously strong talent acquisition tools. SumTotal had some pretty strong ones, at least as far as I understood with their Softscape acquisition for 2010 as well. Do you think that’s also part of this need to better leverage the area that’s different, like talent acquisition?

John Sumser:

What I’m seeing is, and I don’t know the ins and outs of this particular deal, but I’m seeing a lot of consolidation from vendors. Investors want to consolidate. The idea that you have a product that reaches out across all dimensions is really interesting.

Increasingly I’m seeing practitioners interested in Best of Breed solutions. One of the things that you never get in a consolidation play or something like that is Best of Breed. So my guess is that this is a nod to iCIMS as you’re the Best of Breed or the Best of Breed that we can get our arms around right now. That alliance allows positioning that says we’re not trying to be everything to you but we do want to make everything possible.

Stacey Harris:

Make it more comfortable. Make it more linked. I think the other thing that I was very aware of, I know that I see iCIMS invest heavily in their onboarding programs. SumTotal had onboarding, I think with their broader learning tools. I think the iCIMS was much more on the compliant side as well as on the what I would say the development side of onboarding. I think that’s a really nice partnership there that will be interesting to see if that creates more synergy.

Onboarding seems to be a topic that I’m seeing a lot of organizations talk about. I know we’re adding it to the research we’re doing this year on the survey because it’s something that almost everyone I’m talking to feels as a gap. Their entire talent suite, that seems to be the one area. I know you just got some data that you’ll be sharing in your next report that shows that onboard is something that a lot of organizations are looking at or at least have in place.

John Sumser:

Yeah, onboarding, what does that mean? Onboarding means that there’s no real incentive for the recruiting department to notify the payroll department when somebody comes on board. There’s just no incentive. The recruiting job is done when the person is hired. The rest of it is paperwork that is after the fact paperwork. Historically there’s been a hole there. SilkRoad’s product, who’s name went to RedCarpet, I think it might be.

Stacey Harris:

RedCarpet, yeah.

John Sumser:

SilkRoad set a standard for years now in the onboarding world. It addresses some of the onboarding problem. Some of the onboarding problem is it’s now the case in the United States that the paperwork required to make sure you’re legit when you bring a new employee on has become burdensome.

The regulatory notices and that sort of stuff are just awful and if you in the hourly minimum wage, hourly markets, which lots of people are, you have to very carefully manage the pedigree and credentialing information that you hold about your employees so that the Homeland Security people don’t come and shut you down.

The Homeland Security people are pretty mean about that stuff. Onboarding takes on a whole different weight today than it might have ten years ago. I have yet to see onboarding systems that are actually about time to productivity.

Stacey Harris:

Probably the closest that I’ve seen, I think Kenexa’s got a nice product in their onboarding tool. I know Halogen with their task management component, both of those do a little bit better job connecting productivity to what they consider to be their onboarding elements. I would agree, very few of the systems and even those systems are light on this, which is that time to productivity. I’ll be honest I have not seen iCIMS onboarding tool so I can’t say if theirs gets into that level or not.

John Sumser:

The stuff is so situation specific that it’s going to take some pretty smart people to get it right. Onboarding is get all the forms filled out, make sure that the desk is available, make sure there’s a computer on the desk. Make sure there’s passwords and all of the necessary accounts so that when the new employee comes they sit down at their desk or wherever it is that they go, and there’s no friction on the first day of work.

The next layer of onboarding is who should you meet with and what are the first 90 days look like. How do you lay out the culture. That’s the technical and administrative aspects of onboarding is the first layer. The cultural and performance aspects of onboarding layer after that and that requires somebody that knows what the hell is going on in this specific job.

Stacey Harris:

Most of the large organization. Oops, go ahead, sorry.

John Sumser:

No, all yours.

Stacey Harris:

I was just going to say most of the large organizations that I’ve talked to who they’ve built these processes and in many cases they’ve used workflow tools to build that. If it’s a very highly configurable technology then they’ve been able to build it with workflow tools. That still isn’t, I think, getting to the broader perspective. Yes, we’ve got tasks, yes we’ve got 90 day meetings. Yes we’ve got all these things. It’s still not getting to how do I actually get you to the job more quickly. It’s basically saying what meetings do I need to have to get you there, almost, to some extent.

John Sumser:

Right. So, I think we’re going to see more attention to onboarding. I know there’s some backroom project that that founders of SilkRoad that is shaped like an onboarding system and has larger data oriented aspirations. Onboarding is the place where all the data crashes together. It’s interesting because if you want to get your HCM based big data project to work properly you have to solve it at onboarding.

You don’t see that in the press releases and sales literature yet. That’s where the data congestion happens. If you’re going to get meaningful stuff out, that’s where you fill.

Stacey Harris:

Talking about data and tracking and all that. This idea that when someone comes onboard you have to know who they are. I was absolutely floored when I was reading the article about Face Affinity picking up a new board member, Robert McCann who was previously Neilson Research’s CEO. He was a previous executive from Neilson research. What really threw me as I started reading this is their goal in bringing him onboard is to do a better with Face Affinity.

Face Affinity is a facial recognition technology that does face patterning. It not only knows and recognizes who you are but taking the patterns of your face and making some determination about your match to people from a personality perspective. Or to jobs. Or to career paths.
Connecting this ideas of the Neilson level research that we’ve all grown up with. This idea that technology can match you to your job. Maybe there won’t be a need for onboarding in the future, right? You’re perfect for it.

What’s your take on that John? You said you’d looked at some of this technology. Is this feasible? Can organizations do this?

John Sumser:

Um … On the face of it, imagine the conversation with somebody from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that begins with, “I looked at his face and made a decision about whether or not to hire him.”

Stacey Harris:

Yeah.

John Sumser:

Yeah. I think that the cost to prove there was an embedded disparitive fact in a tool like that would just be crazy. You’d have to have a huge, huge sample set of all possible-. The more I start to talk about it, the more that the only thing that you could possibly have at the core of something like that is some form of racial stereotyping.

I would say, “Well, if I’m Superman, this is kryptonite.”

Stacey Harris:

It intrigued me enough to say that I think I’m going to reach out to this company and see if I can get briefing. When they put in there that it’s used for talent management, I was like, “Really?” First I thought it was just facial recognition. Sort of job logging in and those sort of things which you know we’re seeing a lot more of that as your ID and password.

When they started saying “matching” and “career pathing” I’m thinking, really? How is that? It will be interesting if we can get briefing on it maybe we’ll have some future conversation. I think it really-.

John Sumser:

So, I have actually talked to these people. If you go to faceaffinity.com they have Smartphone apps. They have an iOS app and a Droid app that will look at your picture and tell you about your personality. It seems to be aligned with what we saw at Ceridian a couple weeks ago which is an assessment tool that characterizes you so that other people could communicate better with you.

This idea that some sort of machine opinion of who you are based on fairly limited data as a way of managing people, it looks like a tide that is heading toward the beach. It seems so … simplistic given the fact that these are actually people that we’re talking about.

Stacey Harris:

And not boxes, yeah.

John Sumser:

And not boxes. But, you know … crazier stuff has happened. Anyhow, with these people.

Stacey Harris:

[crosstalk 00:25:48] At least with assessments you have some input into it. That’s the only thing that I would say. The idea of someone looking at your face and giving you feedback, I think is crossing a line.

The HR laws haven’t really caught up with any of this. I think this is what you were talking about, right? We all sit here and cringe from the EEOC perspective but I don’t know there’s any laws on the books right now anyways that are connected to any of this technology.

John Sumser:

Yeah, so in order for this to make its way through to product, it has got to sell to big companies and it has to get through the legal departments. It doesn’t pass the sniff test. Yep, but maybe there’s something.

I just have the hardest time imagining that you can look at somebody’s face-. You can certainly project your opinion of what their personality is like. If personality is dependent on facial characteristics, then it really is going to have major racial consequences. I don’t know how you solve that. I don’t know how you solve that.

It’s one thing to use your face to get in the door because you can be recognized. It’s another thing to make assertions. If I have a cleft palate, does that tell you about my personality? Really? Really? Or if I’ve had [crosstalk 00:27:37] a nose job.

Stacey Harris:

It’s a slippery slope.

John Sumser:

If I’ve had a nose job, that tells you about my personality? I’ve got Botox in my eyes. Really?

Stacey Harris:

Well, I think, you know, it will be interesting to see how far this goes. I can see a much more, again, valid or not, it’s a whole question. From a marketing perspective it gets very scary. From a research perspective it gets very scary. There’s a lot of places where it could be very scary.
On the other hand, I think our last topic that we’re going to try and fit in today was this idea of gender imbalance in IT sector growing. Not saying that there’s any kind of issues here, but maybe if there were more females in IT maybe some of these questions might be asked earlier rather than later.

John Sumser:

You won’t get any argument from me there. I do think that that’s the gateway to two seconds about the Kleiner Perkins trial last week. The conventional wisdom on streets of Silicon Valley is that the sexual discrimination suit filed against Kleiner Perkins, that was settled in Kleiner Perkins favor, is kind of like the Anita Hill episode. Anita Hill also lost.

The conversation was forever changed. I think Silicon Valley is going to change. It may be that as a result of this move the basic venture capital model got broken. The basic venture capital market may well have been just an all boys club game. It may not work.

Stacey Harris:

I don’t know all the details of that lawsuit. Maybe just a real brief overview of it? I remember hearing it briefly on the news John but probably more [crosstalk 00:29:35] seen it more than here.

John Sumser:

Oh, yeah. It’s big news here. I believe her name was Ilene Powell or Ellen Powell. Was a senior level player at Kleiner Perkins which is the most successful venture fund in Silicon Valley. They’ve been behind everything for the last twenty years. This is a billionaires club.

She sued for sexual discrimination and sexual harassment. In the trial the insides of the operations of Kleiner Perkins were exposed. What you heard was all sorts of evidence of sexual harassment and sexual discrimination in the boy’s club. The sort of wisdom on the streets is, when a billionaire, or a very handsomely compensated multi-millionaire complains about sexual harassment and sexual discrimination, nobody cares.

Stacey Harris:

It doesn’t matter if you’ve got money.

John Sumser:

A rich person complaining about sexual harassment doesn’t get the sympathy of a jury. The story on the streets is that she lost because she was rich. The conversation about what it’s like to work in male dominated technical places is on the table. There are plenty of women who, it’s not quite as bad a football, there are plenty of women who are going, I’m not working like that. I’m not going to be a “chick” because that’s what it means when eighty-five percent of the workforce is white male.

Stacey Harris:

It’s a difficult situation I think. I been in the HR side of IT for a very long time. I think we often, particularly if you’re in the HR side, see a little bit different because HR is very female dominated. Being here I think you’re a little bit more, opportunity, to see more females like yourself making headway.

It’s the minute you crossover into the product development area or the programming area where it definitely shifted, at least from my perspective when I started working in that space. There is a difference. There’s definitely a lack of females at the very top leadership levels in most of these organizations.
Now whether that’s just a matter of time or if that’s a matter of stereotyping or it’s a matter or we in general need to build more education for women. Opportunities, for young ladies as they grow into these roles, I don’t know. There’s an interesting article that I found from the HR magazine out of the UK that gives some nice stats, at least from a global perspective, out in the UK and Europe. It’s not just obviously an issue here and the Silicon Valley as well.

John Sumser:

Nope, it’s a western culture issue. So, we have blown through yet another delightful half hour of conversation. It’s always an extraordinary pleasure to look back at the week that was with you. Thanks Stacey!

Stacey Harris:

Thanks very much John. I hope everybody has a good week. Please, hopefully, everyone is going to get some warm weather this week. That is my wish for everybody today. Have a nice week yourself, John, as well.

John Sumser: Okay, thanks everybody. We will see you next week.

End transcript



 
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