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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: 219
Air Date: May 23, 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


00:00:14:10 – 00:00:20:27
Good morning and welcome to HR Tech Weekly, one step closer with Stacey Harris and John Sumser.

00:00:21:07 – 00:00:22:18
Hi Stacy.

00:00:22:18 – 00:00:24:28
Good morning John. How are you doing today?

00:00:25:03 – 00:00:35:12
I’m great. You are just back from China. You are a world traveler just back from China. And unpacking your bag to do the laundry so that you could head off to Europe.

00:00:35:13 – 00:00:40:06
That is correct. Yeah I just came back from China on Saturday. I will be heading off

00:00:40:16 – 00:00:44:11
In another week to talent’s off a conference event in Barcelona.

00:00:44:20 – 00:00:48:16
Yeah I’ve been a year of international travel this year though.

00:00:48:25 – 00:00:53:13
But but I want to say it’s good to be home for a week.

00:00:53:21 – 00:01:03:26
You don’t know how much you miss home until you’re gone for a little while and then you come home and you’re like oh it’s so nice to be in my own bed and see my own backyard. So. So this week’s good I’m home this week. So how about you. Your

00:01:03:26 – 00:01:12:20
Your home is all right. I know it was well I’m deep in the research for the next report which means I am consuming

00:01:13:14 – 00:01:33:03
Demos of intelligence software and an extraordinary rate. I am a lot of companies and talking to a lot of people about how they are employing intelligent tools in their business. And it’s different than I would have imagined. We’ll talk about some of the things that are going on in Lewis just today. So

00:01:33:19 – 00:01:34:23
Let’s dig in.

00:01:35:09 – 00:02:14:22
Well it’s definitely been a busy I mean so we are catching up a little bit since we were on our trip and I just got back from Shanghai. So there’s a lot that you know sort of recovering both from this week but also from previous weeks. But some of the biggest news has to do with I think you know mergers acquisitions and money. We got a couple of announcements about some of our colleagues moving around in the market. So cornerstone cornerstone which many everyone will be at the same time that I am in Barcelona. There’s a question convergence event which everybody has gone to for years and years and is the wonderful event they’ve just named Heidi speared me as their chief marketing and strategy officer.

00:02:14:23 – 00:02:54:12
So it’s well worth talking a little bit about her and her background and how that might have an impact on cornerstone. We also saw some huge investments in the last couple of weeks. Fiver filed to go public. For those to follow fiber they’re freelance marketplace and is putting the revenues of seventy five point five million. So that’s something to watch and keep an eye on. We saw a merger and acquisition between shake her international and montage. I know you followed montage for quite some time John. I followed Shaker international since the beginning of their sort of startup because I was you know originally in the Cleveland Ohio market.

00:02:54:12 – 00:03:39:17
That’s my hometown and that’s where they’re from and so I’ve been following them actually as a customer many many years ago. So it’s good to see them taking off. We’re also that criteria Corp. announcing some investments in a huge investment 60 56 million strategic investment in their staff based employment analytics platforms. We can talk a little bit about that. There’s another hundred million dollar investment in a Singapore vendor that I saw while I was there at the conference in Singapore I don’t know if you got a chance to speak with them at all called desk era there at HCM application and then we also saw a twelve million dollar investment in a application called Hey jobs for talent acquisition out of Berlin.

00:03:39:17 – 00:04:12:02
If we get time there’s also some great conversations happening about what I would call activity or workflow or task management technologies we’re seeing a little LinkedIn group of professionals who are less LinkedIn starting up or ex Microsoft leaders I would say starting up a group of technologies called seek out in this space. We also saw that ADP launch there wisely now and my wisely app and Mercer and service now are joining to launch mobility management platform.

00:04:12:03 – 00:04:26:29
So lots of interesting stuff going on this week and I haven’t even gotten to the fun stuff that talked about Google’s new platforms and revamping of box applications and Citrix launching workspace for Google Cloud. So lots to talk about where do you want to start out with John.

00:04:26:29 – 00:04:49:17
Well I think the first thing that we should do is fuss over Hardie’s Fergie for light because for cornerstone to bring her these superhumans chief marketing and strategy officer is is an extraordinary move for Korver serving extraordinarily for Harvey who is a hyper successful

00:04:51:06 – 00:04:58:08
some some would say she’s the sort of person who behind the scenes who raise other people’s successful

00:05:00:04 – 00:05:06:04
player and she’s she’s going to turn some lights or cornerstone.

00:05:06:11 – 00:05:16:18
And I think it’s about time I want to say I mean I have been you know gone through activist investors that I know rebranding and the IPO and the whole bit.

00:05:16:21 – 00:05:47:15
And I think part of through all of that they’ve they’ve lost a little bit of the messaging that that has always been a big part of cornerstone was Kirsten was one of I think in the early days was clearly a big focus for them was a clear distinct message on who they were. I think that got lost the last couple of years knowing Heidi noting her background the work she did with Jason ever break with the appearing group and negligent huge and the work she’s done in the Marcus Buckingham organization with and ADP.

00:05:47:15 – 00:05:53:04
I think this is this is a huge mess. So I think this is something I needed. I’m looking forward to seeing what she’s going to do with him.

00:05:53:05 – 00:06:22:23
So yeah yeah I’m quite excited. There’s there’s so much interesting capacity at Cornerstone hasn’t really been able to show in to sort of a bold clear understandable vision for where they’re going. So that’s that’s pretty special. I felt like it’ll be great to see you there and then the next thing. Let’s talk about shaker and montage merging.

00:06:22:24 – 00:06:23:26
This is Matthew

00:06:25:23 – 00:06:27:00
pushes you through.

00:06:27:20 – 00:06:34:16
What do you know about montage. From my perspective I went a little bit there video interviewing application crash site is it.

00:06:35:27 – 00:07:07:19
Yes montage if I have not one montage has a long history and and I have frankly discounted them as a player for four years and years and just over the last I don’t know maybe 18 months I have come to understand that montage has a disciplined view of where they’re going. You know higher view really revolutionized.

00:07:08:18 – 00:07:24:21
They invented and revolutionized video interviewing market montage was early on but they didn’t immediately follow higher views path into aspects of assessment.

00:07:27:14 – 00:07:29:07
Bye bye.

00:07:29:09 – 00:07:51:15
Bolting on to. So they have these complex relationships. I spent a long time talking with the head of people science. Four in four. There’s a big montage partner. And there’s something interesting going on there that’s worth talking about is another conversation. But but what I’ve come to understand is that montage is

00:07:51:22 – 00:07:53:10
An intellectual

00:07:55:20 – 00:08:07:14
powerhouse who who are able to pick up the ball and pull things together. And so with shaker who I’ve been getting to know this year Shaker is

00:08:09:10 – 00:08:17:12
would. Would you agree with me Shakers. Shaker is the brightest star in the work simulation.

00:08:17:15 – 00:08:40:21
Yeah yeah that’s that’s how I knew them early days. They I think that you know if you’re following work simulation and you’re following any sort of assessment at that level that is validated and evaluated at a level that you just don’t see with a lot of the other technologies that are that are doing this type of work.

00:08:41:03 – 00:09:18:25
Shakers top of the line. I. I have worked with them. I worked with them as a client many many many years ago when they were first starting out and their applications at that point in time were years ahead of where anybody else was from a scientific perspective right on how to think about how the brain works and how people actually make decisions and how they how they perceive environments right. And then they just added technology and Io psychology and all of the things on top of that in a way that you don’t see in a lot of other organizations and they’ve been doing it.

00:09:18:25 – 00:09:30:02
I would say they’re probably the most interesting organization that almost nobody really knows about. You know in the market because because they are really under the covers when they’re working a lot on this stuff. So

00:09:31:18 – 00:09:32:04

00:09:32:06 – 00:09:46:14
Yeah. So in my conversations with them what I’ve found is that it is that this may be the deepest thicket of data scientists in the business and I was surprised to discover that

00:09:48:07 – 00:09:50:00
I was really surprised to discover that.

00:09:50:00 – 00:09:53:27
So what I’m expecting to see is

00:09:57:01 – 00:10:10:07
this combined entity is going to turn in to a very strong very disciplined deep competitor in the marketplace.

00:10:10:08 – 00:10:56:17
Yeah I would agree. I think they’re one to watch I specifically reach out to them and said hey I want to see where you’re at in six months. I think once they figure out the message it sounds like they’re going to keep both headquarters and they’re keeping all of their teams which is a really important component on this. Right. Because as you noted they have I think a wealth of scientists on both side who are part of this process and the CEO is going to be Brian Stern from Shaker or from that the company will be led by Kurt hike and then if I pronounce his name right for montage as a CEO and Brian Stern will be the president and his running Shaker international so they’re keeping senior level rose from both organizations which we don’t often see in mergers acquisitions.

00:10:56:17 – 00:11:15:05
So this is actually really nice to see you know you have the combined company is going to be a powerhouse. I hope they can hope that they’re able to keep the strengths of both companies and find that middle ground also. So this is a big one to notice.

00:11:15:17 – 00:11:55:15
I mean along the same lines we did what we’re seeing and another big investment in criteria Corp. So criteria Corp. is an offering that’s basically focused on organizational and employment analytics. Same sort of assessment based organization. They’re getting an investment from their equity partner it looks like it’s about 56 million dollars so this is the space we’re continuing to see not just through mergers acquisitions and changes but a lot of money going into it. You said you were just talking to the end for team who’s also doing this kind of work this assessment conversation particularly when good science is behind it is really becoming a big part of the conversations we’re having with organizations.

00:11:55:17 – 00:12:19:00
Yes. I think I think I have once again sort of lost track of all the companies who were offering some sort of analytics product. It’s a it’s a very dynamic. Arena. And I don’t think we ever heard of criteria curfew.

00:12:19:00 – 00:12:26:09
Yeah I I I knew who they were. But I have not spoken with them haven’t had any briefings with them.

00:12:26:12 – 00:12:58:08
They count themselves as leader and web based pre-employment testing right. They get it. It’s called the criterion hire select system people I know that. Thirty five hundred active customers they’re not a small organization with 15 million assessments that they offer a lot of these organizations sometimes are just sort of technologies that push through assessments I don’t know how much of these assessments are theirs versus short of entities outside that they’re basically just providing a platform to access on. That’s something to follow up with but then I don’t know.

00:12:58:08 – 00:13:04:00
That’s one thing that’s interesting about Shaker Shaker generally has their own assessments.

00:13:04:04 – 00:13:26:02
They do have a couple of partnerships relationships but you know they develop their own assessment models and assessment tools particularly in that simulation space. So yeah I mean this is a space that’s kind of wide in its scope as to what is considered an assessment platform versus just an assessment technology versus all the way down to what Shaker is doing which is again the assimilation program.

00:13:26:22 – 00:13:31:02
So so I admit to being

00:13:33:07 – 00:13:35:05
blindsided by the market.

00:13:35:07 – 00:13:40:02
So so particularly Corp advertises itself as employment analytics

00:13:42:01 – 00:13:44:18
but it isn’t that is it’s an assessment company.

00:13:44:21 – 00:13:45:19
It’s an assessment company.

00:13:45:20 – 00:13:58:19
Yeah it’s not it’s not a visible competitor it’s not marinating yet. Right. Right. So this idea that it’s an employment of a little company in some sort of marketing bullshit it is.

00:13:58:21 – 00:14:14:12
Yes. And that’s in and in the conversation here in the in the writing. But if you’re if you’re reading that’s why you know when I talk about the fact that they’re getting an investment it’s the assessment that’s getting the investment here not whatever they’re calling themselves.

00:14:14:15 – 00:14:14:22

00:14:16:15 – 00:14:28:07
so so so this is this is a big thing the emergence of assessment as a sort of a universal criteria is

00:14:31:00 – 00:14:45:05
is new and it’s if it is powered by machine learning and machine learning allows you to drop the price of assessment down to the place where it’s imaginable to assess everybody who sends you a resume.

00:14:47:08 – 00:14:48:17
Do you think that’s a good idea.

00:14:49:23 – 00:15:37:27
Well this is this is one of the conversations that I think has been going on in the market for a very long time. Really good assessments should be tailored somewhat for your organization but there is also a challenge that those assessments need enough data to be valid and they need to be based off of the job and not off of your assumption of what you would like someone to be like in your organization. Right. So that there’s a lot of ESD requirements and a lot of validity testing that needs to be done. And so I think a lot of times organizations try and use assessments to shortcut to picking better candidates but oftentimes what they’re doing is just picking better candidates that we’re good candidates for someone else.

00:15:37:28 – 00:16:10:15
Right. Because if it wasn’t tailored for their organization but they as a mid-market or smaller organization don’t have enough data inside their own company to actually adjust it for their own organization. And so I think that’s the ongoing conversation in the market right now which is is this only for big companies with with roles like a retail specialist or a you know a server or a call center rep where you have large amounts of employee base is with repeatable job requirements and repeatable job skill requirements right.

00:16:10:18 – 00:16:21:08
Or can you do this for smaller subsets of the market and smaller subset roles. And that I think is a question still somewhat being you know sort of answered in the market right now.

00:16:21:20 – 00:16:29:06
So I had I had an interesting experience this last week to sort of test your thinking about him.

00:16:29:06 – 00:16:59:22
So part of what happens when assessment data gets cheap and widely available is people who come in contact with assessment data are not the same. It was almost a priesthood of folks who handle this stressful data in the past because assessments were expensive. And what’s in the assessment data is very personal information.

00:17:00:00 – 00:17:19:00
As the volume of assessment data increases I don’t get the sense that the training of people who handle the data is growing at the same pace. And so I’m starting to see assessment data that should be leaking out into the world leak out into the world

00:17:21:09 – 00:17:29:02
you know so. So somebody says Well I happen to see the assessment of your wife. Do you want to see this.

00:17:30:24 – 00:17:31:10

00:17:31:26 – 00:17:33:17
Yes exactly right.

00:17:33:17 – 00:17:56:08
That kind of that kind of that kind of outrageous nonsense is happening because the people who are starting to be able to see assessment data are not trained in sort of the disciplines of nature of the disciplines of recharges.

00:17:56:08 – 00:18:10:15
There’s a there’s a there’s a firewall around a whole array of information that you don’t share. You don’t make transparent because it’s easily misunderstood.

00:18:10:24 – 00:18:41:04
And that I think what you just hit on is is there’s an ethical component and a data privacy component there that has to be addressed. But more importantly and I think we as a term professionals really need to make this well understood is that straight. So if we somehow overcome the ethical issues and we and we somehow figure out a way to make this anonymous whatever there’s still the issue of misunderstanding it right there’s still the issue of.

00:18:41:12 – 00:19:25:00
I mean I used to be you know do back my organizational development and architectural design days. I was trained on all the different you know big five assessments and the disk profiles those type of things. And you know there were serious training when you went through those things again owned oftentimes by these ideas psychologists but also you know the idea of sort of skill assessment versus you know personal and professional assessment was always a big conversation with them. But there’s huge train that should go along with every one of those about understanding the impact that this information will have on a person’s life and how you should read it as A suggested way to sort of think about feedback not as a decision making tool.

00:19:25:01 – 00:19:36:16
Right. And we’re doing more and more were leaning into the idea of decision making tools right as part of these tool sets and that’s where it gets a bit scary.

00:19:36:17 – 00:19:40:29
If you if you haven’t really thought about him well and so I wonder

00:19:43:11 – 00:19:57:06
you probably have a more explicit grasp for this next question which is which is how real is the relationship between assessment data and job performance

00:19:59:22 – 00:20:08:20
all right I get the feeling that that it can be powerful but it isn’t necessarily powerful.

00:20:08:29 – 00:20:39:24
And the degree to which it can be powerful is a very specific per job alignment between a modified version of an assessment instrument and a specific set of criteria. But I’m I’m flummoxed by the idea that there is generically a right personality type fundamentally for a specific job.

00:20:40:07 – 00:21:00:05
I mean it’s a good question. It’s the question I think that we’ve been asking for years in this space. The one thing that I will tell you is that you know that the regulations around this tied to validity testing and this is where the science and the IRS psychology specialization really comes in place and if you really want to understand you

00:21:01:00 – 00:21:48:10
Want to know how often these tests have gone to court if they’ve never been the validity testing is all about ensuring that they are to a specific job role and that you are not testing for your assumptions of what’s important but what can be proven in court to be important to that job. All right. And personality tests are the least likely and the most concerning areas and in most cases are not something that you can tie to a job role which is why many organizations stay away from them figure being one of them as far as those are meant to be communication tool feedback tools but they often get rolled into also job selection decisions and they shouldn’t be right.

00:21:48:20 – 00:22:03:06
So I think there’s a wide swath between sort of what legally can be done what people are doing even though they and they don’t understand they might even be breaking the laws and what they’re doing. Rein in your question.

00:22:03:06 – 00:22:40:05
All right well so that’s that’s one of the things that I’m saying you know you know with intelligent tools you can only judge the effectiveness of those a tool based on outcome and most of the regulation as I understand this process already. And so you get these great claims from the assessment that rules about how their outcomes are correct. And so they therefore meet the regulations. But the truth is the regulations want to have observable

00:22:41:29 – 00:22:44:26
Understanding points throughout the process.

00:22:45:06 – 00:22:47:27
And intelligent tools to provide that

00:22:50:02 – 00:23:21:07
on that that you know in a way I had a great conversation with with Athena Karp recently from higher score and that was one of the conversations we had about the idea of open algorithm and how much can you see inside these sort of decision making matrix is right. You know her view was that it’s a lot more transparent or should be able to be a lot more transparent if you’re doing it right. I don’t know that we would say that that’s the case when we talked to most artificial intelligence organizations correct.

00:23:21:07 – 00:23:34:16
Well yeah that’s so. So FEMA is one of the shining stars of the next generation of rich or Turks. But but the idea that you can write an algorithm in the way that

00:23:36:22 – 00:23:44:25
Makes. Trillions of calculations on the way to an answer transparent that’s each

00:23:46:24 – 00:23:48:13
I think optimistic I think.

00:23:48:13 – 00:23:55:09
I think I think we’ve got a technology that inherently has black boxes in it and we don’t really know what to do with the

00:23:57:05 – 00:24:06:14
and when those black boxes are assessing human beings and not just even assessing historical data right then you have a whole different level to this.

00:24:06:14 – 00:24:32:06
This is this is this has always been a bit of the challenge with the assessment market right. You know that is what we’ve seen as swings people. You know it gets really hot and exciting and people will buy into them and then somebody get sued or something. We realize there’s some sort of bias built into it or some other issue that that’s in that data. And then to everyone sort of moves away from them a little bit and then it comes back up against the definitely cycles to sort of how the market takes an assessment.

00:24:32:15 – 00:24:45:25
But I think assessment with artificial intelligence with better analytics is a space people are really banking on right now as a as a next step or a next conversation.

00:24:47:06 – 00:24:55:29
So we’ve just got five minutes left. Which one which the other gems do you mean.

00:24:56:20 – 00:25:05:14
Well there’s a lot of stuff going on but I’d like to touch on this Mercer and server now service now launch of mobility management platform.

00:25:05:15 – 00:25:39:01
I don’t think this is anything terribly brand new. It’s more I think Mercer taking their mobility service offerings right. And Mary Matalin you nervous now platform so service now is the help desk and case management and portal technology right that we’ve been talking about for for a long time. But part of the reason I think that this is important is how this tie is actually quite a few other topics that maybe we’ll talk about next week which is deep ownership of H.R.

00:25:39:12 – 00:26:15:24
around this communication and workflow space. Right. So mobility management the other application that comes to mind that does this this well as top gear and we’ve heard talk about hope here quite often they call themselves the global mobility management application right. But mobility management is all about communications analytics about sort of what’s the best. Direction to go with mobility and workflows these sort of mixture of tools that does not something that has traditionally been.

00:26:16:07 – 00:26:53:19
It’s been in the back office of the H.R. applications it’s been sort of viewed as is something we would use with our core HMS but not something that that that we have to create a whole platform around. And we’re seeing more and more of these applications coming out as platforms for this kind of work. Then we also had a couple of applications here like Box revamping their workplace automation tool relay which is a task management and a workflow technology. What do you think about this idea of H.R. owning the workflow and the tasks and the transition of employees around the organization John.

00:26:54:01 – 00:26:55:25
Well as always have a piece of that

00:26:59:03 – 00:27:13:20
and traditionally the the department that moves the people has had responsibility for you know expensing and

00:27:15:12 – 00:27:26:17
application of policy but H.R. H.R. is where the answer to the question How much are you going to help me by my next house happens.

00:27:27:04 – 00:28:03:02
Right. And so so. So it’s an interesting idea to consolidate that all under H.R.. I get itchy calling this mobility. But because you know I spent a chunk of time in the wheelchair the last five years and that was mobility to the relocation I believe is the term that they’re trying to avoid using. Yeah right. Right. Mobility really is some sort of NBA code for relocation.

00:28:03:20 – 00:28:05:05
And it is.

00:28:05:07 – 00:28:14:09
Yes I would say that I agree that relocation is considered an older term right. The idea here is talent mobility as well as personal human being longevity. Right.

00:28:15:18 – 00:28:19:07
Yeah except all of these people can walk easily.

00:28:21:25 – 00:28:22:13
All right.

00:28:22:21 – 00:28:29:18
And and and and they’re not looking for promotions as in internal mobility. Right.

00:28:29:18 – 00:28:36:10
So this is one of those places where where the the industry’s failure to have some

00:28:39:00 – 00:29:22:00
success with differentiation in ideas calling everything the same thing seems to be part and parcel of marketing in major tech anyhow. Anyhow what I learned what I learned from Tokyo is is that there is a lot of undisciplined budget floating around and if you consolidate management all of the things that the people spend money on in relocation there is a there is a sizable budget that can be disciplined and turned into a productivity tool rather than a throw money around tool.

00:29:22:03 – 00:29:38:10
Yeah right. And that and so that’s an interesting idea. And for Mercer to go Oh right we have to compete with the beta which is what this is. That’s that’s an interesting tell about whether or not there’s a market here.

00:29:38:11 – 00:29:38:15

00:29:40:01 – 00:29:40:11

00:29:40:15 – 00:30:08:17
After this point it’s always been a services market and Tokyo was the first one to make it a technology conversation. We’re seeing this happen in a benefit space too. Where up to the point of being a package and services conversation and organizations like Thomson’s international him Master served by change that conversation would be a lot more about technology at least internationally and we’re seeing it in other places with benefits. This nice guys who were focusing on the technology versus the service offerings.

00:30:10:02 – 00:30:13:02
Well in the main market in the mid-market.

00:30:13:02 – 00:30:21:01
What’s interesting there is in the mid-market it’s often the case that benefit providers throw each other technology into the deal

00:30:23:24 – 00:30:35:05
and become primary providers of rage or technology because it suits them well for the cash flow associated with the actual benefits.

00:30:35:18 – 00:31:19:18
Yeah exactly. Yeah you know it’s sort of interesting I didn’t put it in the list of topics say but people strategy. Exactly. They launched basically additions to their already existing sort of HCM application and benefits application product but in their explanation of what they were doing they were very clear. First time I’ve seen an organization do this say exactly what you just said basically due to what we can do with our benefits applications we can throw in this technology as part of the conversation and so it was it was really interesting to see an organization sort of call that out as basically saying our benefits application are benefits you know packages are basically paying in some sense for this technology improvement.

00:31:19:19 – 00:31:23:29
So that was interesting. So I think you’re right. Yeah. Then that’s definitely SMB and then mid-market.

00:31:24:05 – 00:31:35:18
Yep. So great. Great. Welcome back. We didn’t even get a chance to talk about all of your wonderful adventures in Shanghai.

00:31:36:11 – 00:31:46:18
It was good that I will say it was good. It was interesting. There are. My sense would be that that H.R. technology regulations should be watching the Shanghai market. The China market.

00:31:46:18 – 00:31:56:21
They are growing rapidly but there are a lot of differences culturally and that’s going to have an impact and they know how organizations think about it. Our technology is so cool. Well

00:31:56:21 – 00:32:12:03
Well thanks for doing this again Stacy. Another great show under our belts. Thanks everybody for listening in. Thanks everyone. You’ve been listening HR Tech Weekly, One Step Closer with Stacey Harris and John Sumser. We will see you back here same time next week.

00:32:12:03 – 00:32:12:22
Bye bye now.


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