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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: 218
Air Date: May 9, 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


00:00:04:16 – 00:00:11:10
Good morning and welcome to HR Tech Weekly, one step closer with Stacey Harris and John Sumser.

00:00:11:12 – 00:00:21:20
I’m doing well and it’s the first time we’ve been doing the radio show in the same room John. So that’s kind of nice we’re talking here in Singapore and this beautiful Mandarin Hotel we’re in. It’s nice.

00:00:22:28 – 00:00:26:12
We must be VIP’s but this takes my whole script away. I can’t ask you, where are you today?

00:00:28:24 – 00:00:29:00
Yeah, sorry.

00:00:31:21 – 00:00:33:09
exactly yeah.

00:00:33:20 – 00:00:47:15
We’ve been in town in Singapore for the HR tech festival which just ended last night. We’re in process, Stacey is going to Shanghai.

00:00:47:23 – 00:01:14:09
Yeah I’ll be going to Shanghai on Sunday spending a week there at the HR Technology conference for China and really excited. This is my first opportunity to get to Singapore and my first opportunity get to Shanghai and sharing the brand new released breakout of this Sierra-Cedar data for the Asia Pacific market. And that was actually really exciting to get to share something new that was based on just those organizations headquartered here. So it’s been a fun event.

00:01:14:11 – 00:01:18:00
So I had a chance to sit in your session yesterday and I was blown away by what you’re doing.

00:01:24:09 – 00:01:44:01
Would you mind taking a little bit of time before we get into the rest of the revisions was talked about what have you found out about the research. Is really interesting model of how HR technology goes together. I assume that’s the backbone of your research. I actually don’t know so to talk a little bit.

00:01:44:10 – 00:02:15:21
Well I think what what you were referring to is our human capital management blueprint. This is actually we’ve been building on this wall for the last five years. I’ve been here because I think the big thing that that we found over the last several years is that our technology used to be very much of a process driven conversation. It still isn’t a lot of places but the processes drove the categorization. Basically you had a process around every area and every area that had a model that was tied to a process.

00:02:16:12 – 00:02:53:14
And we realized that when we were starting to talk to people on the survey or hearing their feedback they weren’t buying projects and tools and the technology environments based off of the process anymore they were buying them these days based off of their strategy off of their culture needs and more importantly I think more interesting is their data and data governance needs. And so what we tried to work through is a new model and that you saw yesterday which is really how you start your technology conversation is not about the processes and it’s not a map of all the different tools.

00:02:53:16 – 00:03:11:04
It just started with that data governance strategy and culture conversation in the center. And it’s almost like a little block Iowa four dimensional block that has all a lot of little ways that you’re going to fit things to it and around it fits the categories of H.R. technology that you’re purchasing.

00:03:11:14 – 00:03:42:04
That’s all your administrative H.R. technology all of your service delivery H.R. technology all of your talent management or first management workforce intelligence applications and then even your emerging technology fits in those categories because we find that organizations have to think about emerging technology at the same time that they’re thinking about their basic payroll systems which is used to be something that was sort of separated pretty clearly because now you think about the mobile or artificial intelligence as you’ve been talking about benchmarking.

00:03:42:06 – 00:04:20:25
At the same time you make decisions about which payroll systems you have. So it’s been a really fascinating sort of tie all that together as categories of technology not a specific module or not a specific piece of software it fits in a category of the type of thing you’re trying to achieve. And then on the outside of it it’s all the processes and policies that you have in H.R. and then your business outside of that sets all of your business systems that have to connect to those technologies that area they’re connected through API is underlying data models and that includes not just your finance your customer management systems but your workforce productivity tools as well like Microsoft Office and Google.

00:04:20:26 – 00:04:39:27
So that’s that’s the underlying architecture for the entire research at this point in time. And that’s I think what you saw that you hadn’t seen previously. We’ve we rolled it out last year in the research but it is it is basically mine and my team’s sort of best thinking about how this all fits together and how people are creating their environments.

00:04:40:01 – 00:05:15:03
So it takes it takes an extremely complex environment and makes it intelligible with something that none of the other famous talking heads me included have come close to doing well if if somebody who’s is to this one is to get a hold of the picture of a better or disturbing Bhutto that’s actually pretty easy that’s just downloading the cedar emulator system survey go to those areas in our website click on the systems area button and I’ll put their name and a little bit information to come back and download it.

00:05:15:27 – 00:05:25:17
And I want to say thank you. That’s a nice way for them to get more downloads but if that’s where that it’s part of that whole research that’s embedded in it.

00:05:26:00 – 00:06:13:26
So if you’re listening to this I couldn’t begin to tell you how important it would be if you went and downloaded this year research because what story she has done is created this really singular way of thinking about all of the things we talk about most radio show over and over and over again in a single picture that from when I could talk covers everything. And so as a map for thinking about how you fit in in the market if you’re a vendor or what capabilities you want if you’re a practitioner or how to design your purchasing strategy if you’re the acquisition for the future department this is a Bible.

00:06:13:26 – 00:06:38:18
This is a Bible and well worth having. So get a copy and I think I think we don’t get enough time in our show regularly to talk about the work that stations both do. This is an opportunity to see where the depth comes from religious issues. So so do with them again. That was awesome. It was totally awesome to see that.

00:06:38:24 – 00:06:40:03
Thank you. I appreciate it.

00:06:40:14 – 00:06:43:22
I think your comment really strikes me is

00:06:45:18 – 00:07:28:26
the thing about these events and these conferences and all of us who sort of travel and share insights and gather insights on a research basis we often times don’t get to see each other’s work. Right. We we talk almost you know on a continuous basis especially spring and fathering conferences. And when I travel like this even here in Singapore I take the advantage I think you do as well and many others to actually sit down and listen to some of our colleagues and that is one of the one of the best parts about some of these events as you get to hear health ideas that you’ve been working on connect with how other people have been working on and then save time talk to their customers who are actually doing the work that everyone always ask me is the travel season Girling you know.

00:07:28:26 – 00:07:40:02
How do you go through 13 weeks of travel and you know in three months but it’s absolutely fascinating because you get to see so many different things or at these events.

00:07:40:04 – 00:07:43:18
That’s right. That’s the that’s where a lot of our

00:07:47:03 – 00:07:48:13
shared cynicism

00:07:52:04 – 00:07:53:15
a lot of the same stuff.

00:07:53:21 – 00:07:55:14
Yes yes.

00:07:55:20 – 00:08:14:18
It’s so interesting because when you when you see as many different situations and vendors as we do the thing that’s most noticeable is that the vendors have a hard time really talking about what they do that’s different from other people.

00:08:14:20 – 00:08:21:19
It’s not that they are not different vendor is unique but different the stories on the same

00:08:23:29 – 00:08:31:17
part of what we learn to do on the road is to listen hard enough to where the different stories.

00:08:31:19 – 00:08:32:12

00:08:32:22 – 00:09:08:28
The thing that really and I travel quite a bit. You travel as well internationally you know we’ve done a lot of trips throughout various European events and and congresses throughout North American companies and South America. This is my my and I’ve done a couple of conferences in India I think you have as well. This is a first trip here in Singapore. And every time I travel outside the US for an event like this I’m always looking to see if those stories are different if if a vendor community has cracked that code and figured out how to be more authentic more more real about what they’re presenting.

00:09:08:28 – 00:09:29:22
Now I’ll say I do the same buzzwords that we heard over and over again. You know for the last couple of weeks in the North America market we’re hearing here as well chat bots artificial intelligence H.R. digitization it was all over every placard and they were beautifully painted lacquer

00:09:31:16 – 00:09:34:08
but they’re really so much of the same language. And

00:09:34:08 – 00:09:39:05
And I do feel for the buyers because it’s just gonna be an overwhelming amount of just

00:09:40:29 – 00:10:03:04
overkill. Right. Just as too many words too many things that don’t really tell them how they’re going to use these tools in their and their organization. So that that’s I think one of the things I’m taking away this week is that you know every H.R. technology community is struggling with the same thing. They’ve just got the vendors are being too focused on the marketing language these days it feels.

00:10:03:24 – 00:10:08:16
Oh that’s new that’s new.

00:10:08:16 – 00:10:19:16
I think that’s the problem with with taking what might be good engineering and handing it over to somebody who isn’t an engineer is

00:10:21:03 – 00:10:32:21
that there’s that there’s a constrained universe of language. Right. And so. So if you look at it it’s very interesting to go to Google Ad Sense and get an estimate of the cost of

00:10:34:11 – 00:10:36:14
search phrase like A.I. and H.R.

00:10:38:01 – 00:10:50:27
and because it’s in such demand the price was really high. So so. So there is a a behavior of sort of flocking to the latest buzz words that is

00:10:52:12 – 00:11:08:26
symptomatic of marketing of young companies in particular and and and you know there was a one of the presenters this week here I was actually doing a sort of an in country as your very very regional focused on Asia Pacific only Technology Survey.

00:11:08:27 – 00:11:11:24
Her name is Pip fill it Philippa.

00:11:11:26 – 00:11:50:14
Or perhaps you might call her underwear and she did a great a great series of questions about sort of what the current and local environment know about the technology market not just sort of you know the data on what they might have or what they might be buying but but a sense of sort of the existing knowledge in the market. And one of the most fascinating slides that I saw and I did a great job and asked this question she put a list of just to have the words we hear in our industry down and she asked people how well do you know these terms do you think you know and to explain this to someone else basically.

00:11:50:22 – 00:12:21:15
And at the top of the list people felt they could definitely explain things like artificial intelligence and what a chap bot was and how it would work. But what they couldn’t explain down at the very bottom line about 10 percent or so of her very large survey that they could explain API. And I was blown away by how different those two things are and how much an API is actually I think more important these days than knowing what the word artificial intelligence means or chat.

00:12:21:16 – 00:12:24:27
But don’t you think this was this was going to blow away for me.

00:12:25:12 – 00:12:26:25
Well well so.

00:12:26:26 – 00:12:57:04
So the world is giving increasingly typical that the world is giving increasingly practical and the work of even even functions as importantly human the human resources department is started to carry these technical things that API is an application programming interface. What an API does is it enables you to take data from one system and use a nervous system.

00:12:57:08 – 00:13:35:20
And sometimes they’re as simple as importing and exporting American feels like everybody knows what to do with spreadsheets. And sometimes they have very dynamic variables so what you get is not a table translation but a stream of data that is designed for your specific uses the output of the API those are that data interface. And some members are very sophisticated bureaus and some vendors offer table translation and

00:13:37:06 – 00:14:07:18
understanding the level of quality in the API of the product that you buy. The reason that’s important is because that’s how you get the data that’s in one system to talk to the other system or how you put the data into a lake of some kind so you couldn’t you could muck around with all of that. All of the data and when it comes to purchasing this is a discriminating difference.

00:14:07:22 – 00:14:19:12
Right. And so it’s probably more important to get the API mechanism right than it is to have a sexy intuitive interface.

00:14:19:12 – 00:14:49:19
Yeah because the API allows you to build that the people analytics function where the user interface doesn’t do that when you figure that on average organizations over ten thousand points have somewhere in the range of 80 plus integration points with their H.R. systems with non H.R. environments. Those API has become absolutely critical as to whether or not you can maintain your data analysis even up keep your entire house.

00:14:49:24 – 00:14:59:13
So so the central line of the distribution is even more than usual if you’re somebody that we really haven’t we haven’t yeah.

00:14:59:27 – 00:15:08:21
So you’ve got two or three systems that you integrate you better have reliable and predictable liberal reasons for doing that.

00:15:08:25 – 00:15:23:29
And or as this is I mean for me. And you know I’d love to hear your perspective on that and I think this event has been really informative now because I think they said I could be wrong on this that I don’t think that for someone the range like 5000 people here.

00:15:24:12 – 00:15:38:28
Yeah it was it was a really great group a nice i it’s a mix which is I think one of the greatest thing about the the overall a Asia-Pacific market is sort of a mixture of both youth as well as sort of the

00:15:41:14 – 00:16:13:11
older generation of the technology market. So you saw everyone from the top CIO at the top the HRA here down to the early you know analysts to the technology market which is really good. We don’t oftentimes see that at the technology events as sort of a wide mix of generations. And then we also saw things here a wide mix of topics. So they had topics that ran from that sort of core H.R. conversation to the technology conversations to recruiting and talent management as well as innovation and CSO information.

00:16:13:12 – 00:16:26:09
So these this was a well I think designed event with a lot of different information for different audiences. What do you think John. I mean did you get good conversations here.

00:16:26:09 – 00:16:59:28
I have great conversations I’m I’m a big firm of Singapore which is the first I believe the first intentionally designed national culture. They have a team come in and figure out how the culture was going to work because what they wanted to do in Singapore was create a culture that was conducive to doing business to become the best place to do business in the world. And they’ve come remarkably close. There’s a lot of really interesting infrastructure of accomplishment here.

00:16:59:28 – 00:17:22:18
But what you see in the community is this implicit understanding of how to design our image culture. And so so what got my attention is that people in Singapore take up things about organizational culture that we think are manager for brands and know how to do really interesting things.

00:17:22:21 – 00:17:24:26
So that was the perfect.

00:17:25:29 – 00:17:34:07
And I think with that organizational culture I mean you know sort of understand that they’re working instead of changing actually bringing two very different cultures together. They actually have

00:17:36:15 – 00:17:53:25
very different cultures both in the different regions where they have populations come from here but also in effect they have a very differentiated group of workforces in the market as well both by generation and by female and male and another different issues that they’re dealing with.

00:17:53:25 – 00:18:16:27
And what I found intriguing in a lot of the conversations is that there was a clear difference between I would I would call them the youth right and their perspective on both culture and work and what they expected as their sort of role in their own career management compared to the rest of the audience.

00:18:17:16 – 00:18:36:18
And that was fascinating to see how these H.R. professionals and that’s what they are their only professionals all working in the environment are navigating that in a culture that is fairly prescriptive almost right because they’re trying to change something that has been designed in a certain way.

00:18:37:07 – 00:18:46:10
So so what I like I said through a bunch of the women moving age or tech curriculum should do a call out Jeannie Hill I did a fabulous job.

00:18:47:15 – 00:19:02:10
There were so there were some amazing things. But as I watched the women in tech one of the things that was clear was the people who were able to ask questions were all under 30.

00:19:02:24 – 00:19:19:09
And so there are really noticeable generational differences in the understanding of the role of women in the workplace that manifest in this session. And there was it was powerful. It certainly was.

00:19:20:06 – 00:20:05:10
There was the other thing I think that was interesting was that the mix of speakers they had here there were quite a few of us who came from I think the traditional sort of events in Asia check partially because LRP is the one now who owns this a major event and they’ve brought some of the people that work in the LRP environment like Steve both we all know Trish McFarlane as well as myself and John Josh first and Jason Navarette Gene Kelly a great group I think of sort of a mixture of different perspectives on what’s happening in the technology space but that was definitely infused with I think some of the best local talent I’ve seen in this region around sort of really thought provoking

00:20:06:26 – 00:20:21:13
approaches to talent management and culture conversations and how technology is supposed to support H.R. versus how you pick a specific type of technology.

00:20:21:14 – 00:20:24:12
There was very little about sort of

00:20:25:28 – 00:20:36:24
the technology and how I use it as a as a tool and very much conversation about how I’m developing my talent communicate throughout and all the presentations that I saw.

00:20:36:27 – 00:20:43:04
There also I think a heavier emphasis on strategy that

00:20:45:15 – 00:21:17:17
we see in the States than in the States it’s not uncommon to hear people say things are moving too fast for anybody to ever have a strategy. You hear that. You don’t hear about people. People were talking about building strategies. People were delivering assertions about how to build strategies. And there is a sense here that that’s missing or think about domestic market but you understand and control the future of Europe to it.

00:21:17:25 – 00:21:49:26
Yeah yeah. No that’s actually really good. So I was sitting there within about six I was CIO where they had a special specifically designed for the H R audience and the I to try to get some conversations going sort of interesting stuff when people sort of sat themselves down the I.T. group all sat at one table. The R audience of that another. And then there was the sort of mix in the back because it was a talk about performance and productivity. Right. And there was a lot more of the youth that were at that table than any of the other tables.

00:21:49:28 – 00:22:22:25
It was a fascinating and I think example of how you might try and design it. But everybody sort of goes in their own little world. But one of the conversations we were talking about was artificial intelligence or robotic process automation. Big topics throughout the entire session. And after they got done talking about all the ways that RPA could be used and what I was or wasn’t we start to talk about the importance of data cleaning at the table that I was saying I was at the all CIO and I was actually the H.R. representative at that table which I was like. I’ve been a the been actually sitting in an eight hour role.

00:22:22:25 – 00:22:42:21
But I tried to make sure that I got that point across the table. And one of the things we talked about was that importance of data cleaning and all five of the CIO sitting at that table who were from very large global organizations who are located headquartered here in the Asia-Pacific market.

00:22:43:03 – 00:22:56:18
One was from India the rest were from the Singapore audience. Every one of them said they had a data cleaning governance model. Everyone said that H.R. was at that process and at that table when they did that. And then it was on a continuous basis. They

00:22:56:18 – 00:23:04:03
They were doing data governance approach that I would hear that in the US from a table like oh no I don’t think you do.

00:23:04:05 – 00:23:05:00
In fact

00:23:06:29 – 00:23:34:03
what you’re more likely to hear is people being forward the idea that you would have to do so because to governments is a group livable particularly on giving and giving. You have to get standardization in places where there is the absence of share position in the absence of civilization is always the mark of somebody who is

00:23:35:18 – 00:23:58:01
protected turf return. So so when you go in and clean up the data structures you’re really doing something that changes the way people get things started they think about their terrain. And so it’s not an easy thing to do. You have to have to be home sometimes to to get things done.

00:23:58:06 – 00:24:06:12
That means that the the person in charge of the big government process is not always the most popular person

00:24:08:02 – 00:24:12:20
that I always ask who owns the data evidence or who owns your employee profiling organization.

00:24:12:20 – 00:24:37:16
And there’s always that blank look oftentimes because no one wants to own it right. Yeah it was clear here. I didn’t ask who owned it in his audience and there was most the time it started like I.T. is still owning it here. It was pretty clearly but it was it was definitely I think there is a sense that if you’re using technology here and there are a lot lot fewer organizations like they don’t use them as quickly at the smaller ization stage or technology.

00:24:37:16 – 00:24:57:03
So on average using 70 percent of the market is using something like creature mass. You see that 90 percent elsewhere in the regions. But if they’re using it I think they’re using it more strategically. They get the underlying importance of clean data and system integrations and those type of things a little bit more.

00:24:57:03 – 00:25:11:15
It feels like at least at that level that we were talking to an order given in order to go from third world country to a first world country in a generation everything about Singapore in particular is

00:25:13:07 – 00:25:24:01
infrastructure is what matters really and it’s it’s really it’s impossible to describe the level of accomplishment.

00:25:24:08 – 00:25:27:19
We sat at dinner on a rooftop.

00:25:28:05 – 00:25:30:12
A couple of times during the week and

00:25:32:02 – 00:25:44:26
there are there must be 75 60 storey buildings wrapped around the harbour. And none of them are older than 10 years old.

00:25:45:11 – 00:26:04:15
And so there’s just been this extraordinary explosion of growth and it’s all built on a subway system. Power and communications grid that’s able to handle that level of growth. We’re still hungry for more growth even though this is of little island. Real

00:26:04:15 – 00:26:28:04
Real estate is precious. Infrastructures right. And so everybody who lives here understands that getting the infrastructure right is the key to growth. And so when you see something like the governance being embraced as a discipline it’s not. It’s the understanding that infrastructure is the key to growth definitely came through.

00:26:28:07 – 00:26:45:20
You were doing a lot of conversations about why and how to prepare for it and what organizations should be thinking about with it. How did that go over with his audience. Was it do you get questions. Did you get more input or insight into some areas or different types of concerns from the audience.

00:26:45:21 – 00:26:53:22
So so it’s a funny thing the first time I came to Singapore I gave what is a sort of a standard John talk

00:26:55:09 – 00:26:59:07
nobody in the audience did anything I told jokes and nobody laughed.

00:26:59:07 – 00:27:08:26
It was. It was either the experience of doing and then a rational thought could be quite disturbing the first time because because audiences have different things.

00:27:09:02 – 00:27:27:04
This time I was able to make people laugh and able to offer some crumbs that allowed people to come in and ask conversations. The things that people are most concerned about here are the impact of this technology on their jobs.

00:27:27:05 – 00:27:58:10
I’ve been doing some research and in Europe and North America everybody believes that technology is going to affect somebody else’s job it isn’t going to affect your job here. It seems like the opposite is true. Yeah right. So the questions that I got had to do with how do you interact with the technology. How do you stay abreast of. How do you harness it. That’s not the same questions about the U.S.

00:27:58:10 – 00:27:59:01
or Europe.

00:27:59:01 – 00:28:07:23
That’s interesting. I mean just understanding I think the kind of questions they’re going to ask I think is valuable for the vendors because there were a lot of vendors we see both events.

00:28:07:24 – 00:28:24:27
We saw vendors here. ADP was here. Virgin Pulse was here. Cornerstone was there. There’s a lot of the same vendors that we see many events. But you did see a different twist at least on how they were approaching the topics they were covering in many cases it should show the cornerstone.

00:28:25:10 – 00:28:33:21
So I was walking through the expo floor and there was the corner stone Booth and for a from Booth have a reach for the road tripped over

00:28:36:25 – 00:28:51:00
the idea they deliver his voice. And when I track the head of marketing interrupted her conversation with a client and came over to make sure that I was okay. And that

00:28:53:06 – 00:28:58:18
would not put the the. But it was certainly.

00:28:58:24 – 00:29:08:24
Something about the cornerstone of the U.S. Friendly engaging group concerned about people that move forward.

00:29:09:01 – 00:29:15:14
So that’s a very good story. Yeah there was. We also know some of you let me know.

00:29:15:14 – 00:29:50:18
NEARY So a version posted a bit brought in Wendy who’s their head of marketing over there who many of us know from the states and she was able to do some interviews with some of the people who were speaking. And it’s nice to see sort of this sort of mixture of sort of the conversations that we’re getting already and you know the North American market starting and then seeing some of the newer infusions I think of topics that are going on here so Wendy and I were talking about how interesting it was that you know in the states sort of there’s a lot of conversation about wellness as part of us sort of a technology and engagement platform.

00:29:50:19 – 00:30:21:02
Right. She said you know in Singapore or at least in Asia Pacific market there’s still sort of having to make the case that wellness is in and of itself a thing that’s separate from sort of the rest of the technology environment. So there are places where we’re seeing some of the things that easily have grown rapidly in North America are taking a little bit different turn. And I think in the Asia-Pacific market. So that’ll be interesting to see which which product areas I think grow more quickly and in this region.

00:30:21:02 – 00:30:33:19
But we do know this region is growing. Seventy two percent of our nations at least in our dataset said that they were increasing their rates our technology budget over the next 12 months. So it’s which compared to 39 percent of those in the North America market.

00:30:33:21 – 00:30:37:21
Well we’re looking for a longer term strategy.

00:30:37:21 – 00:30:43:21
We didn’t get the perfect moves but we sure we have a good. What’s going on with Singapore

00:30:46:15 – 00:30:54:18
So first to begin with time to do this. Thanks for listening everybody. We will see you back here next week. Thanks a lot. All right


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