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Hosts Stacey Harris and John Sumser discuss important news and topics in recruiting and HR technology. Listen live every Thursday or catch up on full episodes with transcriptions here.

HR Tech Weekly

Episode: 213
Air Date: April 4, 2019




Important: Our transcripts at HRExaminer are AI-powered (and fairly accurate) but there are still instances where the robots get confused and make errors. Please expect some inaccuracies as you read through the text of this conversation. Thank you for your understanding.

John Sumser
Stacey Harris


00:00:12:22 – 00:00:23:20
Good morning and welcome to HR Tech Weekly, one step closer with Stacey Harris and John Sumser. Good morning Stacey. How’s the gambling?

00:00:25:13 – 00:00:44:21
How’s the gambling, hah, I’m doing well not gambling but I am in Vegas. I’m actually enjoying a beautiful view of the mountains and the strip here where I’m at. And that feeds my my need for for gambling for a while. No no need to go downstairs and deal with all the smoke and I know that.

00:00:45:03 – 00:00:56:26
And I thought you were going to win a lot of money so we could build an entire radio studio, I’m so dissappointed.

That will be the next trip.

00:00:56:28 – 00:01:03:00
Yeah. Now my idea I the way we’re now going to build anything. Yeah.

That’s funny.

00:01:08:09 – 00:01:12:10
But you’re home but you were here as well this week. You just got home last night right.

00:01:12:10 – 00:01:28:29
It was. We were there to enjoy the ultimate software users conference which was as usual an extraordinary gala with forty five hundred people in a huge ballroom in Las Vegas

00:01:31:17 – 00:01:42:18
And they always put on quite a show and you never quite sure what you’re gonna expect to scotch here always ends up doing something somewhat dangerous and a bit unnerving onstage right.

00:01:43:28 – 00:01:52:29
Well that’s that they have to have a chief what I think is called the chief relationship manager of the chief Relationship Officer.

00:01:52:29 – 00:02:29:03
So Bill but Bill is always doing some sort of daredevil acrobatic Las Vegas thing is the opening bid of the conference and it’s it’s really kind of a tremendous show because it says our executives take risks to public and it’s a great message to be delivering to an audience of customers this is as we’re willing to take risks just like we asked you to.

00:02:29:04 – 00:03:34:25
Yes yes I definitely do. They definitely do make a point throughout the entire session of focusing on taking risks but also being very very human about it. And you know the challenges that go into any of those type of things and that’s always good to see as well. So the nice thing about Ultimate is that it has a big focus on the culture and their focus has always been about the culture and they definitely show it off at their ultimate ofthe pro connect events. They have each year. So yeah it’s them. So it’s not. And we always get a great two day session while we’re here as analysts which is we don’t always get that some vendors will bring us down and just have a few the event and know have maybe one meeting ultimate sort of bring many of their people who are presenting and bigger sessions to the analyst room and basically it gives us a good two days of sort of insight into what they’re doing and what they’re planning on doing and how that fits into the bigger picture that they’re presenting at these events. So it’s a nice mix of getting a chance to sort of talk to customers and get a deep dive into what ultimate doing.

00:03:35:17 – 00:04:11:09
Right. And they they actually they actually are hungry for hard questions which is which is I think separates them from a lot of the other players that they’re not defensive about their work role. They they take those two days with us to test out ideas and to see with references to the ideas right in the end many of the presentations as we sort of all of the aspects of their business maybe the presentations begin with. I’m

00:04:11:09 – 00:04:16:04
I’m here to try to test my ideas who they are what do you think.

00:04:16:11 – 00:06:52:29
Exactly. And it is somewhat refreshing because it I know there are often times when we’re at these events and you know benders can become very defensive and their baby is that they’re working on them sometimes. And analysts tend to be a bit outspoken on what we think what we see and so is nice and refreshing to be in it in a setting where they’re asking for your feedback and they’re open to it as it fits into the picture that they’re presenting as well as the feedback that they’re getting from their customers and the market as a whole. So it’s a good mix that they provide here. So you say they not only had they had over almost 4000 people here they also were highlighting I think some really decent on Mt.. Nothing major or huge that you know I think we’re not seeing a lot of huge announcements in our tech space right now there’s a lot of platforming stuff going on and behind the scenes work going on and almost every vendor that we’re talking to these days in preparation I think for what will be the next generation of the Artificial Intelligence conversation. But they did do I think a nice job of also announcing the now should have completed integration efforts with their people Doc acquisition which was employee file management and case management tool with a bit of sort of you know mobile portal component to it and they’ve done a nice job sort of showing how that will fit into the ultimate world and should a couple of great cases that they also announced how Zander which is their artificial intelligence. One of the few that does not have a female name in the market as a whole. How Zander is being leveraged more deeply throughout their product including and some of their matching candidate matching tools which it was was a got a huge applause from the audience that the kind of Zander candidate matching analysis that included some bias tracking capabilities would be sort of part of their overall package it wouldn’t be extra cost and so that was a big win for the audience. And they also won out I think that Zander was going to be checking performance reviews and I say this carefully but giving guidance on whether performance reviews or the review EES were putting in more biased language based off of sort of the performance that they were evaluating. So those are the big announcements they also made here as well. Did you catch anything else.

00:06:56:27 – 00:06:57:25
No. This

00:06:57:25 – 00:08:54:02
This was this was sort of the Zander and ultimates efforts have been evolving over a number of years. This was this was the moment which became the centerpiece of the awesomely accomplished. So it was only. It’s interesting to see to see that they have they have that profoundly that the future is software that man that it was you. And it’s you know this is this is my interest. And they are they are making some very interesting strides. I’m not sure that that buy the whole thing but they have the first observable A.I. code of ethics in the H.R. tech went prior to this. This makes them sort of the de facto leader in in this area of a truck just kind of a surprise when you consider their size and market. We’ve become a billion dollar. And that was a big deal that we talked about but they are still little compared to some of the other players in the space. And yet they are demonstrating leadership real leadership in a rapidly clarifying vision of where each our technology goes rather than that that is a data science driven operation that uses data to amp up the performance organization right and that’s what it was.

00:08:54:02 – 00:09:08:15
It was very cool to be able to to sit in that future for these and much of the things that they were sharing are still early days. You

00:09:08:15 – 00:09:58:00
You know they may have a few customers using it beta that yet but you know it was very clear that they have I think taken the time to think thoughtfully and I think that’s the best word you can use for thoughtfully about how their artificial intelligence fits with their view of the world. Right. And and ultimate has a pretty clear distinct message about the fact that they’re an organization that is built their business on the culture they feel other organizations can make a big difference if they focus on culture. And so the artificial intelligence that they’ve created they’ve embedded in ways in which it has at least from their perspective an impact on the cultural conversation of a company as much on the activities of getting work done.

00:09:59:14 – 00:10:53:05
I think it’s an interesting idea. I don’t believe that the culture as the primary focus of H.R. is the answer for every company but in the places where where culture really matters. This is a building a set of tools for realizing that chose it it was. Yeah it was good to be there that they model a view that lots of other companies are to try to emulate. And I came away Wishing that I had more time to spend learning more about what they do yeah yeah I think that the only request I have for this one we definitely want to dive deeper and there’s some new technology conversation.

00:10:53:09 – 00:11:38:09
We learned some some great stuff about sort of what they’re planning and how they’re thinking about the underlying architecture of their application. That’s always a big question you know analysts sometimes get into that with the idea of sort of picking apart all the things that an organization is doing wrong. But it’s also I think are really valuable opportunity to see how an organization is capable of scaling. So we were talking about you know factors like pipelines and how big they are and if you’re gonna be transferring a lot of data which is what the artificial intelligence data conversation is all about. Do you have a pipeline big enough to do that. Those are conversations we were getting into and I think those are the kinds of things that you don’t always get from the vendor. So it was it was a nice I think open session that they were giving. Yeah good week. Definitely.

00:11:38:21 – 00:11:51:00
You know the other thing is worth mentioning is it is that ultimate soft power which is a Florida based company company.

00:11:51:04 – 00:12:26:17
And Florida isn’t exactly known for its embrace of liberal ideas. Ultimate Software is a sort of a model of how to do the diversity of inclusion. Or as that the distinction they make. It’s a version of belonging this. And you see it you see it everywhere. The understanding that this is their issue in their kind of world is just everywhere.

00:12:26:17 – 00:12:46:00
So the stats are that that half of the company now and forty five percent of management is female. There’s this there’s some other dimensions to

00:12:50:18 – 00:13:02:20
It that that are harder to get at. But but but on the gender question that this isn’t just an excellent story.

00:13:02:23 – 00:14:43:25
Well I mean when you when you look at you know the market as a whole for age or technology it’s it’s really easy and very quickly oftentimes seeing that you know at the most senior levels you know everyone tends to look like in a space committee we are you know when you’re talking about the buyers 75 percent of the H.R. population is female. Right. And so that’s a telling sign that there is change that’s needed in America as a whole. And I think ultimate has embraced it from both. Just a general how we hire how we do things right. And then there there also you know I think looking at diversity inclusion from both you know kind of who we are but also what you know how we think and so they’re doing a lot of cognitive work as well and that was nice to see and they’re opening up I think the conversation to a lot of those things like abilities within an organization and background and cultures and those type of things as well. And you hear a lot of lip service to that in a lot of organizations. I feel know that I’ve seen an organization start to put things in place around it. And I have seen I mean one of the things that ultimate doing is they’re doing a program that they’re part of any moves on five or six companies in the U.S. who are doing it where they’re going to be doing special programs for bringing in people with different disabilities particularly those with autism into their organization and figuring out sort of the best way to recruit and develop and work in that environment. And those are fascinating things to see that organizations doing. They’re actually you know taking their the sort of feedback from the market as a whole.

00:14:43:25 – 00:14:54:21
Right. So it’s also a resource for a lot. And what else have we done the real.

00:14:54:21 – 00:16:18:12
Well there’s a lot going on. I mean this is definitely high season for H.R. technology major technology changes. One quick update I felt we did unit cause acquiring Intuit L which is an ACM offering so Unit 4 is a ERP flash a dam and they’re adding to their their package there. We’re also seeing that German linked in rival now I don’t know if I’m going to say this name correctly is this thing or Zang I’m not sure. My engaging thing that I’ve found out them is rebranding as new work and it’s acquired their recruitment platform honeypot for up to 64 million dollars. We also have Amazon releasing conversational acknowledged data set of more than four million words. I want to see what you think about that John but we’ll quickly get to the big topic. Automatic launched happy tool distributed workforce five dollars per user. Basically that’s the WordPress company getting into a church that space and then if we have time today we also have Agora eyes raising 20 million dollars to expand their Canadian presence. And we’ve got which is a scheduling tool and Microsoft partners with open classrooms to recruit and train 1000 A.I. students. So kind of a mixed bag today but lots of different things going on. Where do you want to start.

00:16:18:12 – 00:16:34:07
John social which one tiny part of me Park Service striving for the tool that you use to I went No I’m not.

00:16:35:25 – 00:17:02:12
I think I think I think we got a couple of these naming like happy times. This is the juice that that are a German company calling its product Toby part. I suppose you can’t fault them for not understanding American slang but that’s interesting. That’s an interesting bit. Where do you work extra.

00:17:02:13 – 00:17:03:09
I like this.

00:17:04:01 – 00:17:16:03
Yeah well you know I I’m interested in your thoughts on this piece about Microsoft or about Amazon launching conversational knowledge data set.

00:17:16:11 – 00:18:14:01
So then they make a big splash about the fact that they’re launching basically four million words that were crowdsourced of human conversations provided by teams and they’re going to actually ask that organizations sort of compete to see who’s going to get the extended version of this data set which they think will improve anybody who’s investing in natural language processing and understanding how conversations change and understanding how people like you and I might start a sentence and end it you know and end it in a completely different way because you’re halfway through you thought of a different thought. I don’t know if this is this big news is this something we’re missing in the market and may I well even in the market do they are a big deal is that conversation depends on regional dialects.

00:18:16:05 – 00:18:40:22
Euphemisms and ends in shared language inside of smaller cultures. And so so most of the work that I write now is solving the giant problem which is which is everybody everywhere knew about everything and and and so that’s that’s that’s it.

00:18:40:22 – 00:20:20:00
Thinking about that theoretically will help with problems like you know the the apple chat board has a hard time with the first person pronoun I. Because silver products have that name and teaching the machine to hear the difference between I want some food and iPhone or I called you an iPhone. That’s that’s that’s a C thinking that that the the tools currently don’t get right very well. But the second layer of it is that is that there’s this assertion that know the meanings of the word if you know the meanings of the phrase and may or may not be true that may or may not be true but the Chao a bottoms up approach to artificial intelligence works is the theory is that if you get all the little details at the ground floor perfect like mapping all of the houses in the world like Google did then you get the top level view perfect as well. I’m not sure that that works with language. So so is probably going to be a lot of fussing over this is it. Is it important. I think it probably sidesteps the big problems no less interesting.

00:20:20:00 – 00:20:26:21
So it gives us something but it doesn’t give us maybe what we really need. Wow sound you’re gonna have to help the company figure out what they really need them.

00:20:26:23 – 00:20:52:11
Sounds like the theory. So so so so good for Amazon for trying to make their data more readily a book for people to use. Bad for the industry. It sounds like a big deal bigger deal than it actually is.

00:20:53:08 – 00:22:28:09
Well and this is one of the challenges right with it with the market as the whole an artificial intelligence market where we know what’s coming. Everybody’s working on it but it feels a little bit like like you know a big storm that’s coming down the road. You’re not exactly sure what you’re going to get from it. You know there will be rain. You know there’ll be lightning but it could flood. It could last for an hour and be gone. You know it’s just it’s a little hard to get a sense of what it’s really going to be like. And so I guess well we’ll walk away and think the other big topic I thought was interesting was the idea that WordPress or the company owned that automatic is creating a basically what they’re calling and I’m using their exact words as a they’re happy schedule a calendar based time management app designed to help manage employee schedules and tackle support queries from across the organization. So more maybe like a personal scheduler time management calendar but it does feel a bit like it’s starting to get into the space of H.R.. A lot of things that H.R. is trying to do as well as time tracking performance management productivity evaluations. And to me I’m just wondering does this type of technology start to fall under the purview of H.R.. I don’t know. John do you think you know is this. Is this more like a just a google calendar install and is in a years period much of that is or do you think we’re gonna start to see more of these hybrid environments coming in.

00:22:28:25 – 00:22:54:12
So what this looks like to me and this is this is a huge problem when you wrote intelligent tools. There’s a there’s a level of which the machine can’t answer the question. So most knowledge management tools Chatterbox or the like can get to 80 percent reliability pretty easily.

00:22:54:12 – 00:24:08:25
They can answer 80 percent of questions that they’re fed. And you know it’s a period of analysis so those those 80 percent or the words of course 20 percent once and the remaining 20 percent are the ones across 80 percent of the problem. So so currently what a does is it answers all the easy questions leaves the hard questions for human beings. Now when you do that you create this expectation in the Work First that the hard questions will get answered this quickly is the easy words. And in order to do that properly you have to schedule the answering of those questions because they’re not there. Can you remember this b.s. about they research. They’re always good to be research oriented questions. And so you have to say it’s time for them to be answered have three tools. Happy schedule happy tools product copy schedule looks to me like a tool that automates the scheduling of the answering of the support quivers and so you gather do the chat board can answer it.

00:24:08:26 – 00:24:24:27
It gets forwarded on to the support group in charge of answering it. And it clock the query assigns a standard amount of time and priority to it and puts it on your calendar as a Schedule item.

00:24:25:14 – 00:24:44:19
I think that’s what this is it’s a worker’s proposal and it’s exactly at the place where H.R. has its greatest impact in the organization and exactly where the interesting disruption in nature is going to come from.

00:24:45:28 – 00:25:32:18
Yeah that’s the thing I know no this can’t my eyes are knowledge workers conversation more so in some cases but you you’re up to you know and even really for the most part and most knowledge working environments they still don’t track the work they’re doing in general right. It’s very hard to calculate how many hours you spend thinking about something or worrying about something or getting an answer to something right. Which is part of the knowledge workers job. This is trying to think if they have that and if that’s the case then it should be as important to H.R. as than a shift management tool would be for someone working yep that’s buttons automatically.

00:25:33:16 – 00:25:39:19
Yeah that’s exactly right. So it’ll be fun I think.

00:25:39:19 – 00:26:50:15
I think it’s interesting that that the company that builds press is starting to ship H.R. and operational management tools. I believe that you know when you think about how the industry sees it. So the typically the H R tech industry view of the world that is a single manager with a single team doing is singularly focused job. And that’s that’s not how it is for most people. Most people have two bosses and at every individual in the workforce spend some amount of their time trying to sort out the difference between the priorities of the two bosses and that’s how that’s how the world works when you have team and H.R. technology companies haven’t been great at delivering products that that imagined operating that way. And so it’s interesting to see disruption coming from the sides.

00:26:51:20 – 00:27:36:12
Exactly. Yeah. And that you know the team conversation is it is a much bigger conversation and it is there is so many you know elements to that. Managing a team differently than how you manage an individual. And I think you made a good point and most of traditional HDR technology sort of rolls off the idea of managing an individual to then how they would manage a team. But they’re they’re not the same things. And it’s a very different sort of connotation about how you have to think about it. And some like WordPress that has been working with organizations all over the world on how to develop Web sites right. Right. And their own platform development tools has probably had a lot more experience in some cases with that team concept.

00:27:36:12 – 00:28:42:29
And so it will be interesting. Yeah definitely. One of the other organizations like that just as much money as the world is just so much sort of attention and about 20 million dollars of investment was another organization that we’re sort of maybe wrapping up the conversation on today which is active tracks raising 20 million dollars per employee monitoring software. This is it’s a Web monitoring tool for you know what you would see here of your screen monitoring tools that you have in most organizations but they’re starting to add data analysis to this big data crunching capturing data at different times that’s figuring out maybe how they can capture a that normally they wouldn’t capture. But no deleting information that would be personal for employees. This getting investment and a pretty large size investment 20 million dollars seems to be you know an additional you know sort of thing that we’re seeing that organizations are just wanting to get more data on what their employees are doing.

00:28:43:03 – 00:28:46:03
Ryan Yeah.

00:28:46:04 – 00:29:09:28
Well when you look at when you look at what they’re saying here that it’s worth underlining this the Global employee monitoring market is a billion dollars today and is growing at the rate of roughly for a three year so that’s the active Track tool is sort of a very intelligent. You

00:29:09:28 – 00:30:06:09
You can’t do Facebook or work time of more tool much more than that is an analysis of is the stuff that you’re doing on your machine actually productive but it is starting to that directive because it’s not no longer just a site blocker but they’re looking at when you spend time on GitHub What are you doing and how is that relate to your keep your eyes. And so we’re more of this. We’re going to see lots more of this. We’re going to see we’re going to see H.R. departments who know that their employees are before the employees know that the Oh now you just scared the hell up to do that type of marketing to target.

00:30:06:09 – 00:30:11:22
To do that you bite if you rub two kinds of violence Target knows that.

00:30:12:00 – 00:30:26:01
But it just seems too different to have my somebody like nobody versus you know that big anonymous you know company that I go and find and the I’m right. But you’re right. No this is this is that this is the direction that we’re heading right.

00:30:26:26 – 00:30:53:12
Yeah great. We have knowledge are and and the products you know I’m seeing lots of love natural wellness products emerge and they all start with the premise that what you’re going to do is tow the soft truth that your employer provides you details of your financial life and I’m not doing that.

00:30:55:05 – 00:30:59:09
But that’s not part of it you’re not doing employer.

00:30:59:24 – 00:31:49:03
But I do think and this is something that that’s going to be interesting to see. I think the next generation well I sort of assessing this. It’s interesting I got I got a grad student doing a survey out to her and to her peers on what they expect to do in a mobile environment. I’m waiting to see what that data comes back and I’m going to be intrigued to see with their H.R. functions but I you know just listening to three of my children and my friends kids and they’re you know we’re we’re all in their 20s and early teens. They’re just not as worried about this kind of stuff when it comes to an entity that they know. Right. They’re much more worried about it when it comes down to they don’t know but they want the advice and the guidance and they’re willing to give over some of their personal information to get that right.

00:31:49:09 – 00:31:59:18
That’s interesting. So we’ll watch that unfold. Well, we’ve run through our half hour. What a great conversation today. Stacy thanks.

00:31:59:18 – 00:32:08:26
Wonderful conversation, yeah definitely. We’ll be back here next week. I think at the same time and we’ll look forward to talking to everybody again, this is always fun John thanks.

00:32:09:25 – 00:32:18:19
OK. You’ve been listening to HR Tech Weekly, one step closer with Stacey Harris and John Sumser, we’ll see you back here next week and here are those Irish guys again.

00:32:18:25 – 00:32:32:13
Bye bye now.


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