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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: 272
Air Date: June 25, 2020





Important: Our transcripts at HRExaminer are AI-powered (and fairly accurate) but there are still instances where the robots get confused (or extremely confused) and make errors. Please expect some inaccuracies as you read through the text of this conversation and let us know if you find something wrong and we’ll get it fixed right away. Thank you for your understanding.


John Sumser 0:14
Good morning and welcome to HR Tech Weekly One Step Closer with Stacey Harris and John Sumser. Hi, Stacey. How’s North Carolina?

Stacey Harris 0:23
North Carolina is doing well, it’s a bit of a gray day but we’ve had sunshine and nice cool temperatures and I can’t complain. And I got outside for the first time in about two weeks yesterday, because I was able to Well, not yesterday, the day before yesterday, I got the stitches out of my surgery that I had on my leg and I’m walking around on a boot now and all the fun stuff, so I’m feeling much better personally. And how about you, John, are you doing well in California, much like North Carolina right now your COVID-19 numbers are going up as well, aren’t they? Unexpectedly, I think in California.

John Sumser 0:56
Yeah, we’re hunkering down here in Northern California. The big jumps are all in the south but we’re headed into the next wave of this thing, I think is what I tell you. If you look at the global statistics, the United States is winning. And this is not a race we’d like to win.

Stacey Harris 1:13
Yeah, the term winning in that particular sentence may be a little bit distracting. We’re probably at the top of the pile is a better maybe we think about it. But that being said, I do think that depending on where you’re located, certain regions are addressing it probably better than others. And we are starting to see businesses open back up in the market start to move again. And there’s a lot of movement going on. And we’ll see if that will have to be pulled back again, due to the numbers rising. I know here in our state, we are staying in what they call phase two of our opening process because the numbers have risen and kind of in a holding pattern with the hopes that we won’t have to go backwards. At least our Governor’s conversation has been much more about can the hospital address the needs that’s really when you start to push things back into corner But we’ll see. I think every state is handling it differently. That’s one of the challenges. And you know, the opportunities we have as a country that has state by state adoption of this right now.

John Sumser 2:09
Yeah, it’s gonna be long remembered as a primary failure of the federal government system. It’s disheartening that there’s not a national comes home person, but we will get to the other side of this with with the other. So what’s the mailbag?

Stacey Harris 2:25
Well, with all this going on in the world, we have not stopped what’s going on in the HR tech base. It’s been a busy week. Not only did you and I have multiple analysts events last week that we talked about from talent sock to ADP to SAP, fire and successfactors. What we also saw this week is that workday made a major launch and announcement of what they’re calling workday help and workday journeys, as well as workday people analytics, some of it we saw at their users conference and analyst events in the fall much of it is probably stuff they hit lightly talked about in the Analysts session they did with us. But it’s a bit new to me. So it’ll be interesting to see where that goes.

I also felt the same time Microsoft did an announcement that they are doing a strategic partnership with workday to accelerate planning for today’s world. So that’s a little bit more on the financial side, but I think it has some impact on what’s going on on the HR side as well.

Degreed raises $32 million nominated, which comes on the heels, they’re $75 million investment last June. This time to expand on Career Mobility will be interesting to see if degreed can take the momentum that they had last couple years and move that forward. We’re also another $35 million investment but in a series a funding round, I suppose for a company called bright side which is focusing on financial wellness within a financial product marketplace.

So there’s some interesting stuff with our investments and other 8.5 million for a recruiting company called pendo, which is worth probably talking a little bit about from an investment perspective. And then we’re starting to see organizations really Assessing where they’re standing financially. I think this is something that we see from time to time, but we’ll probably see more of it as the markets figure out where we’re standing after the COVID-19 initial hit in the market.

And Skillsoft entered an agreement last week with lenders to significantly reduce debt and position the company for long term success. There’s some conversation to be had there. But what does that mean? And work cumin was listed, at least in the Irish Times Irish news as the latest Irish tech firm to reach unicorn status. unicorn status by their definition is that the firm reached a valuation of $1.2 billion as a organization with investors and privately held and so it’ll be interesting to see if your view of that is the same as their view of that job.

And then if we get time, there’s some cross that line creepy HR conversations that we always tend to have. PwC is doing facial recognition on their work at home employees sort of quoted as being very privacy invasive, tracking how many time workers are Getting up to go to the restroom that kind of stuff. So probably worth the conversation to say how do you stop from becoming creepy with all of this tracking the HR space? So lots of news John, where do you want to dive in? It’s a busy week for being that we’re most of us are still homebound in many cases.

John Sumser 5:16
Well let’s talk about Workday, they exploded in the release of news category. Because workday is so buttoned down, accomplishment focused. I’m sure this has been planned for some time. The time is interesting. I sat through a lengthy demo of the new Oracle analytics capability. And it’s much more of a laboratory for analytics, that particular workday product is more packaged so that you don’t need to be a data scientist to use it. And the Oracle stuff is packaged so that if you want to have data science, this is the place to go. So have you seen both of those?

Stacey Harris 5:56
I have. And I’ve also seen some of the stuff that I SAP has and what they’re calling it Analysts package their layer that and I think that was my my perspective as well both SAP and Oracle are taking more of a, we have the tools, your data scientists need to pull the business’s data together as a whole, and HR part of that workday approach seems to be that they have the tool. I mean, I know their acquisition of adaptive and the use of that tool definitely been with this insight. But I think the way they’re presenting the way they’re making it available is much more like that in a package of product is a group of beings that you can find, in fact, they specifically call out and this announcement that you will be able to look at organizational compensation, retention and attrition, diversity and inclusion, hiring talent and performance. They’re telling you what metrics that they’re going to be able to help you pull together with this analytics package. So it’s interesting, different views on it. And I think it goes to who their clients and customers are on some level and the kind of skillsets that they would have any sales organization.

John Sumser 6:51
So, can I say that a different way and tell me if you think I have this right, the Oracle client is smaller, and so they’re not likely to have a fully deployed data science team and the SAP, Oracle clients, while they have SWAT clients, they design products for the huge clients. And that’s where you live will define complicated analytics endeavors.

Stacey Harris 7:16
But you said the first one is Oracle lightning network day client. I think it’s just early in the morning for you, john. I never started half an hour early today.

John Sumser 7:25
For some reason the coffee isn’t working so well.

Stacey Harris 7:28
Yeah exactly. But yeah.

John Sumser 7:31
Good. Okay. So now I understand it.

Stacey Harris 7:33
Yeah and I think that it makes a lot of sense. Yeah.

John Sumser 7:36
Yeah, I’m not sure if I can tell you, which is better. I of course, would prefer the laboratory because I’m always interested in finding out the things that you can’t get with standard practice. But there is a real need for tools that just assume that you need x capabilities and give it to you.

Stacey Harris 7:57
Yeah. And I think you know, for me, I think it’s the same kind of funny. I actually like the idea of coming out with a theory set of things that because I kind of like be able to like without having me have to go through the process of figuring it all out, give me the five or six things that you know, I’m going to need, as long as you leave me room to go and do investigation. And I think if you said it comes a little bit down to dial Gil, how you approach your work.

So what I’ve always said is that these vendors know the culture you have because they do work to the cultures of the companies that are most predominant in their business model. And that’s definitely the case here, as much as we’re talking about their analytics package is this workday help and workday journeys. Now, workday journeys seems like a personalized experience guys, which is play almost like workflows built around some very important transition life transitions you would have which is important at this point in time because organizations are dealing with a lot of things such as layoffs or off boarding and onboarding or transitions people might have in their life if they’re moving because of things like they might have a death in the family or there might be some changes from going from one role to another Roll, whatever it is, I think they’re trying to create, again, that very tailored approach to you have someone who’s going through this, we’ve already thought through the steps for you. And here’s what the journey is.

On the other hand, workday, hell, as far as I can tell them, this is not something that we have talked with workday about. I do not remember seeing this demo yet. You may have seen it, but they’re saying it’s a case management application. This is a direct competitor to a lot of their partners. The most well known of is ServiceNow, but they also have a lot of partnerships with other organizations like dovetail so not sure how this is going to play out in the market, but having a case management application, the only other large HR organization that has done this effectively has been Oracle right now to bind and then what ultimate has done by adopting peopledoc so this will be interesting to see how this works.

John Sumser 9:48
So I’m gonna wonder here, as this is both the ServiceNow and workday question, I’m going to wonder if this is a smart time to introduce machine learning based closeted For functions inside of the HR department, my sense is that things are changing really, really rapidly. And that we’re in the middle of an unexpected and extraordinary transformation in what HR does and doesn’t do. And so the idea that come to market with the capacity to pin down learning problems because you have some long term history that you could draw on, you get those things that strikes me as a little tone deaf. I’m not sure it’s a lot tone deaf, but my guess is that the problems that people are having that they really need help with or not the same old problems, which is whether machine learning tool will help you with the same problem with our we’ve never seen a problem like this before, whether we do and so being able to automate prior history so that you can see what’s going on seems like a reaction to a competitor rather than a reaction to the marketplace.

Stacey Harris 11:00
Possibly, I mean, if you read the statement, part of providing a case management tool, providing the ability for someone to get through the layers of basic health to a live person, this is something that they did not have previously, which was basically a helpdesk tool. And I think what you’re saying is that, look, there is no historical precedents for this. So we need live human being on the phone answering these conversations. Well, work didn’t really have an option for that up until this point twice. Do you think that maybe this is a reaction to that? I think what you’re talking about comes in how its implemented.

Do I implement it with a, I want 99% of my calls answered by a chatbot and a algorithm or do I make sure that I quickly move someone and you know, this is the difference between the credit card company that I green out on my phone for 15 minutes trying to get to a human being and the one that immediately realizes that my voice is raising and they’re gonna put me through to a person immediately and then I get what I need done. Same thing, same case management types of tools, just differences in how you make decisions about when you move people into talking to a human being right?

John Sumser 12:03
I think you just gave me a new chatbot trick. So if you scream at the chatbot they’ll put you through to a human being. That’s awesome.

Stacey Harris 12:12
I know. It doesn’t work on all of them I’ve found. There’s a point at which I just hit my wall. I’m sure you all you all know it out there you do.

John Sumser 12:23
Yeah, yeah. Daddy, Daddy, what are you yelling at the phone?

Stacey Harris 12:27

to the 20 minutes of round-and-round. But, we get an announcement right from workday. We also got this announcement about a strategic partnership with Microsoft. And this is sort of interesting. This announcement of strategic partnership prioritizing Enterprise Planning in the cloud and expanding business solution customers can use more optimized detail. So they’re basically creating an opportunity for the workday customers to put their planning tools inside of the as you Microsoft Cloud, but they’re also connecting all of the data. It looks like a little bit more closely with workday teams and Microsoft Teams and workday communities. So this is a much tighter integration, I think, than we’ve seen in the past with Microsoft or workday. And so this is sort of interesting as well, I think that this is coming at the same time as we’re starting to see an elevation of Microsoft being used on an at home basis perspective.

John Sumser 13:25
So am I getting this right? This really shows like the analytic stuff that I’ve been seeing in Oracle where you have that they’re using Microsoft as the way to slice and dice and manipulate the data that’s inside of a workday implementation. Is that is that how I should read this?

Stacey Harris 13:44
Now, as it says, Here, workday, adaptive planning offers customers a modern platform, I think what they’re doing here is they’re saying that your data can reside in as you’re not that you’re using Microsoft BI tools or anything like that. The difference is, is where does your data reside? Your data resides inside Have a separate public environment, or does it have to reside in the inside of workdays cloud environment that I believe the crux of this particular announcement here?

John Sumser 14:11
The addition of the workday adaptive planning brings leading modern planning analytics and reporting solutions at scale to the as your community, so to everybody. So this is providing planning tools, analysis tools, gotta be data science tools, is there. Anybody inside of the Azure Cloud sector? That’s actually really interesting. That hurts my head?

Stacey Harris 14:36
Yeah, in AWS, Amazon Web Services has its own analytics tool called Quick site that you would use to analyze. You could put other tools that you could analyze data on on Amazon Web Services, but you may want to use their tool I’m not exactly sure about Microsoft is particular space. Obviously they have Microsoft bi analytics is one of the fastest growing tool in the market based off of our data set from what we’re seeing. So not sure how those two things work together. Except that adaptive planning is, again, one of those more tailored already has a built in type of, say, analysis that is needed for some of the business type of conversations that you’re having. So that might be the case there. Without further conversation from the team. I’m sure you get it.

John Sumser 15:16
We’ll go work through the middle of news this week. Now greed raised more money. That’s really interesting to me. I love the intellectual atmosphere at degreed. But I still don’t have a grasp of how a company really deploys the well. So you and I both have interesting relationships with them. But what do you think about this another slug of money after a really big Slug a year ago?

Stacey Harris 15:40
Exactly. Yeah, I’m surprised to see this as another amount. You know, I think degreed has struggled a little bit with the transition than a lot of organizations who hit this point deer, which is their founder and leader, but that transitions from being the smart, kind of geeky guy who really gets it and has this really cool sort of insight into what’s happening, but he won’t Who isn’t quite ready to take the company to the next level, they had to do some transitioning their to their new president and have some conversations about how we become a big company for big companies.

And so I think they went through a little bit of that last year. And that was definitely part of what they needed to do. And now I think they’re also realizing that they can’t be a one No, like, as good as they are at the idea of creating a profile and a learning experience and putting together a place where someone could capture all of their learning in one place and take it with them wherever they went. Even if they were learning on the company’s dime or with support of their current company. There needs to be more about how do I make this powerfully valuable to my career, like learning? Isn’t that the end all be all. And so My take is that they now have to rethink the platform from just a learning experience classroom into a career management platform, because that’s really what people are struggling with. You know, the last five years in the learning market has been all about learn on your own. Figure it out, become this personal advocate for yourself and build and develop your skills. Like I think what’s happening right now is a lot of people have invested time in training themselves.

And that’s not helping them get the jobs they need. Because you and I both know that just learning something doesn’t give you the same experiences, applying it, getting personal feedback and getting insights from people who have already gone through that and the coaching and mentoring that you need that you get when you’re on the job. And so my sense is that they’re probably facing the same thing we’re seeing in a lot of the other LMS right now, which is I want to know how this helps me develop a career not just learning new skills, though. That’s my take. And I think it’s a good move for that. I actually think that this is a wise decision for them to move in this direction. The question is, can they make the pivot?

John Sumser 17:46
So let me ask you, do you think there’s such a thing as a career? I wonder a lot about this. I particularly wonder for the 35 or 40 million people who are currently unemployed if they think they have careers. My take is that career A 20th century idea that it doesn’t account for rapid changes in how work gets done. And that what you really do when it’s time to get the next job. There are a lot of jobs, you get another job like the one you just had, they’d be a little more complicated or something. And that’s forward progression in a career, I guess. But if everybody around you is currently unemployed, and you need to feed your family while you take the next job you can get and I’ve never seen a career tool that accounted for the fact that people who actually go to work they live in the world as well. It would be nice to hold on to your dream of what you want to be when you grew up. There’s only really happens in academia and only to a very certain category of people in academia.

Stacey Harris 18:49
I’m going to disagree a little bit with you on people right now that I have been talking to who are in career transition and the conference. stations I’ve had with them are the same conversations that I had, I had a really good counselor. Last time I was laid off who had great conversations with me about what I was passionate about, and what I really was looking for in a job. And she counseled me even though I was the only breadwinner in my family at that point in time, and I did have a family to feed on where I should be focusing. And when I maybe should not take the first job offer, which was a really hard thing to do at that point in time in my life. And thank God, I had so many councils on me that because then I found the job that really made a difference in my life. If I had accepted the other offer, I would never be where I’m at today talking to you and you know, doing the kind of things that I love. And yes, sometimes because I had opportunity, but I have had the same kind of conversations with dear friends who do not have college degrees who are working in frontline positions who are not in positions where they have been able to think about their careers before as a career, but they all have ideas about the kind of places and I’m not talking about engagement, talking about if I’m passionate about serving my community, maybe I’m more interested in working in a nonprofit if I’m passionate about sports, because I used to be an Olympian and now I’m working in HR, why would I not maybe look for HR role in organizations that are doing the things that I have a passion for? It really is, I think, a different way of thinking about how work fits with your life. And I get that there are times when you don’t have choices, and that completely understand that I’ve been there many times myself when I was younger, and I don’t today, in some cases, it’s always around the corner. But I think that careers are a real thing. And when we stop and think about what we are trying to achieve, we make better decisions for ourselves. That’s my two cents.

John Sumser 20:42
So I think there could as well think about so you want a career in HR, and for me, and maybe this is a white male view of the world for me career includes some sort of growth track at some sort of increasing responsibility over time. And so I have educated myself about all of this HR stuff out of my way to preparing myself to have the next big thing, and then the pandemic hits. And it turns out that the most important thing in HR has to do with health and safety and none of the stuff that was forward looking a year ago. And so the people who actually get ahead in this time are people who were interested in things that didn’t appear to be mainstream, but no machine would have recommended to you that no career counselor would have recommended to you because they all suggest that what you should do to grow is follow the trends. And that’s not actually how it works. What actually happens is you get ahead because stuff breaks and you’re willing to step into it, even though you don’t know anything about and that’s just seems at odds with most of the views of careers as this sort of incremental development in the space that you’re passionate about idea.

Stacey Harris 21:56
Let me try. It does. I get what you’re saying. I think that goes back. To the type of career platforms that we have out there in the market right now, right? Most of them are built around what you just stated, which is this person who kind of looks like you have done that. And here’s how they did it, or these 10 people took these courses. And maybe you should think about it. I think Career Mobility is as much about internal assessments and internal perspectives as it is about external and historical data. And it definitely, I would not say that our current Career Mobility market addresses what I just talked about in most cases. And our current Career Mobility market focuses primarily on taking data and trying to show what you talked about. So I think we’re probably seeing a little bit of the same thing. But is there a Career Mobility that’s working the way I think the market probably needs it to for everyone at every level? Probably not. Is there a way that maybe we could make it work if we thought a little bit about every individual person and individual requirements, as well as not just the trends about the market? I think, you know, we had enough warning signs that there could be a pandemic. We had tons of warning signs, and what would happen in that kind of a scenario? I think those are the kind of scenario planning that should be going on in our Career Mobility tools, as well as in our financial planning tool, as well as in our HR workforce planning tool. That I think is the problem.

John Sumser 23:17
Let’s give that a system of a second because here’s the thing about career development and about you know, this runs back to Degreed, it cuts all the way to all of the things that people are doing to try to address this problem. When you decide to prepare for the next step in your career. You are always placing a bet, right? And if you prepared for massive health scare disruption in HR, you’ve been really smart. And you are you are having an extraordinary moment in your career. But the odds of it happening right now we’re probably 20 or 30%.

And so in order to prepare, you’d have to take a long shot bet that this was right and the kinds of tools that are being developed don’t encourage long shot medic. And so you could have prepared for all of the normal stuff, which was an 80% that that the normal stuff would be the next thing. And it turns out that addition and so you took a sure bet and lost and the person who trained themselves for pandemic related experiences to the longshot bet and one. And that’s never really clear in the internal mobility stuff that what you’re doing is adding an item to your portfolio that has risk associated with it. And that your job in managing the preparation for your career is to organize a portfolio of experiences that has the highest likelihood of payoff in the direction that you want it to be.

Stacey Harris 24:45
I think yeah, no, that’s a great way of putting it. Yeah, and you know, the bets we take the risks we take with our own personal decisions about work are just as important as any risk you take on a financial level for a business because it has an impact on our finances. Personally, so yeah, no, this is this is a really good conversation. And we have rarely thought about Career Mobility and career management as a risk management conversation or even as a scenario planning conversation,

John Sumser 25:14
Right. Right, this is good. We should pick this up again.

So thanks for taking the time to do this this week. As usual, a great conversation. And thanks, everybody for listening in.

You’ve been listening to HR Tech Weekly, One Step Closer with Stacey Harris and John Sumser. This was our 272nd show, and we will see you back here next week.

Bye bye,now.

Stacey Harris 25:38
Thanks, everyone.

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HR Tech Weekly: Episode #271: Stacey Harris and John Sumser

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