HR Tech Weekly Logo

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: 284
Air Date: September 17, 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.

SPEAKERS: Stacey Harris and John Sumser


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


[00:00:22] Stacey Harris: Good morning, John. I am well, I am well. We are dealing with a little bit of rain. Hopefully, not as much as Florida and Alabama saw this week. And with, I think it was four months worth of rain in four hours, but we might get that. So I’ve got, I think, forecasted for rain between now and Friday nonstop.


[00:00:40] But other than that, I’m doing well. Still data crunching and still working on getting things ready for the annual HR systems survey launch in a few weeks. How about you? Are you able to get outside a little bit, breathe some air a little bit right now?


[00:00:55] John Sumser: Finally, it’s been crazy. We’ve been locked up at the house because the smoke is so bad, but they’re letting us out of our cages for a moment.


[00:01:04] So if you could send that rain over here, we could use the rain.


[00:01:08] Stacey Harris: I’ll do my best to blow it on over. I don’t know if it’ll listen to me, but I’ll do my best. I got a call from my parents last night saying, are you safe? They’re supposed to be flash floods. And I’m like, it’s a very slow moving rain mom. So if it gets there, it might take a couple of weeks, John, but, but I’ll do my best for you.


[00:01:23] So as Express Mail as I can get rain. And how are you in work stuff? Are you, um, I mean, we’re, we’re starting to head into what is the busiest season, even though we’re, we’re not traveling lots of conferences and events going on, or how has your week been this week with your calls and your meetings?

[00:01:40] John Sumser: Oh, it’s been wonderful.
[00:01:41] I, um, let’s see. Sunday night I was in Singapore Monday night. I was in India. And, and I didn’t have to get on a plane and I didn’t have to, I had to stay up a little late, but I didn’t have to do anything extraordinary except walk down to the same desk space and talk to a different audience. And it was amazing. It’s such a sweet luxury to be able to be here and be there at the same time.


[00:02:09] And, you know, one of the things that I’m noticing is that everybody in the world is getting competent at new communications technology simultaneously and that’s going to make a big difference. I just don’t know how.


[00:02:22] Stacey Harris: Yeah, yeah, no, it’s been kind of amazing to watch. The investment that organizations and companies are making in these virtual events to try and make them as personable or as high quality as possible.


[00:02:37] I mean, me and you been doing this podcast for over five years, right? So.

[00:02:41] John Sumser: Right.

[00:02:42] Stacey Harris: You know, we’ve seen the ups and downs of bad microphones and, you know, calling from hotel rooms and all of that. And we know what it takes to maybe get to a quality that at least is decent, but the levels I’m seeing people go to now are pretty amazing.


[00:02:56] I mean, I’m speaking at an event next week for Degreed and they sent me a recording set up this week that was, I used to be in radio and television in my undergrad days, and I hadn’t seen anything since then that was this extensive. It had a video camera and it had a microphone and it had lighting stands and it had, you know, laptops for recording high definition.


[00:03:15] I really hope that high definition isn’t to close up. You know, it’s always the thing about, you know, video cameras. You’re like, it’s great if they’re good, but boy, you don’t want him to do pick up everything. So we’ll see. But it was interesting to see how much they had invested in making sure that we had a quality session for that event.


[00:03:31] So I don’t know if you’re starting to see that kind of stuff as well, John.


[00:03:35] John Sumser: Well, you know, if you were to give a, maybe we’ll start doing video one of these days, but if you were to get a video, look at my office, it looks like a remote television studio. There are boxes and knobs and wires and blinking lights and audio equipment.


[00:03:54] Lights on stands, shining down from on high. And these days when you get me a video, I look like really pink because I haven’t quite figured out how to tune the lights. And so you learn all of this stuff about where the sound is. What’s the sound like? What do you do with the sound? What’s the video like? How do you utilize, there’s new technology coming out inside the video they’re called virtual cameras. That’s pretty interesting that I’m starting to be used. And so I find I’m ahead, of, the efforts like, like what you’re talking about. I’m a couple of steps ahead of that. So somebody wanted to send me a box of stuff to set up. I would raise the bill.


[00:04:40] Stacey Harris: Exactly.

[00:04:43] I’m thinking I’ve seen a new column and HR Eexaminer coming up my digital journey. Right? Like, I could see it, like, this is what I bought this week and this is what it did for me. Right on the audio side and the video side, I think people would be interested, John, there are people really trying to figure this out right now.


[00:04:58] John Sumser: Oh,
[00:04:59] Oh, if I think a long way there, because doing a lot of routine video production now. And so one of the things that you have to ask when you do video production is how do you deliver a PowerPoint presentation as a movie? Without it being really dumb and boring.


[00:05:20] Stacey Harris: Yeah.


[00:05:21] John Sumser: Right. Because there’s a little pink man talking about the big white piece of paper, you know, this, this is the worst lecture you ever went through in your college days.


[00:05:34] It’s the worst class you ever took in high school? And it certainly isn’t Netflix. And so one of the things that I’m noticing in fact is that there’s the beginnings of a reaction to the intense video world, because what we’re seeing in the vendor space is that they’re replacing person to person conversation in analysts with video.


[00:05:59] And that just doesn’t work. It’s one thing, if you’re like, I have seen some things recently from companies who don’t have anything to say. And if you don’t have anything to say the best way to say this with the prerecorded video, but if you have something interesting to say the best way to say it, is in a conversation?


[00:06:17] Stacey Harris: Yeah.


[00:06:18] John Sumser: So you sort of see the vendor community themselves into the ones who say, well, we don’t really have anything interesting to say, watch this video and the ones who are busy trying to. Have conversation because conversation is more about discovery than broadcast.


[00:06:41] Stacey Harris: And it’s interesting. I think some are trying to just fill the hairs and do a little, both like what’s the messaging and the videos, and then I’m going to get you a chance to talk to the executives.


[00:06:48] We had one of those this week cornerstones at analyst event. I’ll, I’ll share a little bit of what I got a chance to experience. I know you saw some of it. We actually probably saw the split sides of it. I didn’t get to see the videos at all, but logging in was a challenge. So yeah, we’re, we’re seeing it across the board is that vendors are trying to figure this out.


[00:07:04] The practitioners are trying to figure this out. We’re trying to figure it out. Hopefully everybody is being very understanding of the fact that this is all a bit of a trial and error moment for the whole world.


[00:07:15] John Sumser: It’s sort of, sort of. It is a good time to be understanding. But only just.


[00:07:20] Stacey Harris: Are we getting the curmudgeon coming out in you there, John, on that?


[00:07:28] John Sumser: Is it curmudeonly to say, I don’t want to have to work more because you’re not doing your job very well. I don’t know. I don’t know that that shifting the burden so that I ended up with more to do because you’re having a hard time. I don’t know that that’s such a good thing.


[00:07:46] Stacey Harris: Very good way to look at it. I get that completely. Yep. Yep. Well, we’re definitely, I think seeing this play over into what’s going on in the, in the HR tech space, it’s a busy, busy week, lots of stuff going on and we’re starting to see money and investments come back. I think we saw a little bit of a lull in that over the last several months through the summer holidays.


[00:08:07] And I think after the first flash of investments that were still going on before the pandemic and then the wait, we saw some new job roles. So we’re seeing some of her friends sort of take on new roles in different organizations, which worth talking about. I mentioned the cornerstone event, Oracle has been in the news a lot.


[00:08:22] So worth, probably chatting a little bit about that today. But so as career builder, you know, they’re trying to make some news this week. We’re also seeing some stuff going on with CloudPay and ultimate soon to become UK G as well as yellow and three other companies that they’re partnering with. Lots of partnerships going on this way.


[00:08:40] We are also seeing a couple of things going on from investments. We’ve got some small investments, but still we’re probably made me get mentioned mountain a company’s called bright hire as well as Zinio, which is an HR tech startup, and a company called HR data hub. So busy week, John, any of those things spark your interest right now with what’s going on and all the stuff we’ve been talking about.


[00:09:03] John Sumser: Oh, why don’t you pick, it’s such a bounty, you know, in a world where Oracle is buying a consumer communications company I think.


[00:09:13] Stacey Harris: Well, maybe before we, we jump into that one, why don’t we say congratulations to a good friend of ours, Dwayne Lay, who has been in the HR talent acquisition space for a long time, took on a new role as the lead global leader in a head of customer success for the company called Joveo. And so just a congratulations out for him. Do you know Joveo very much, John it’s a talent acquisition sort of marketing advertising technology company is my understanding. Is this an interesting company that we should keep an eye on knowing that we’ve got friends like Dwayne, him there?


[00:09:47] John Sumser: I don’t know anything at all about Joveo new to me, but if it attracted attention. There’s something about a worth paying close attention to, because he is, I don’t know if he’s the best customer service guy in the HR tech industry. I think, I think he might be, I think he really knows how to bake customer service saying in companies.


[00:10:08] And so when you have Dwayne on the team, what you’re getting is. A capacity to make customer relationships. They really understand that business depends on happy customers don’t go away and he has been getting better and better and better and better at that over the years. So this makes me want to go look at Joveo.


[00:10:30] Stacey Harris: There you go. Well yeah he’s done his part of his job already. Yeah. So we’ll say good luck to Dwayne and both of us we’ll probably take a little bit of a closer look to see what’s going on over there.


[00:10:39] We also got the cornerstone update. I think we were talking a little bit about that earlier, before the call. Cornerstone had an analyst day that they’re sort of tacking onto some convergence stuff that they’re doing internationally, for those who don’t follow what’s going on in the LMS learning and development and talent space with cornerstone, they’re just coming off of the, in the last three months, some major changes to the organization.


[00:11:00] They acquired Saba, which was their largest competitor, which basically grew them to about 7,000 customers. Last year, they were an organization that had about $577 million in revenue with the Saba acquisition that might jump dramatically. I think they threw out a number of 820 million. I don’t know if that’s there in line for that or not, or if that’s going to be an aspirational number that they threw out, I didn’t catch what it exactly was, but I also have a new CEO, Phil Sounders.


[00:11:27] He was talking quite a bit before the event, they sent us a bunch of videos to watch an Al be upfront. I did not get a chance to watch the video. So getting into the event was a little bit of a struggle. And the entire event that we’ve sat through was sort of a bit of a lash quick presentation by Phil and several of the, the new senior leadership team.


[00:11:45] But then they had a really, um, at the end, I would say probably the most beneficial amount of time was a really open Q and a with the entire executive group. And some of the product development people. And that was probably the best well spent time, but it was after about three hours of listening to presentation, it was a pretty big event.


[00:12:03] One of the biggest announcements was their new chief product officer, a J a watt Trum Mani. I’m hoping I’m saying that correctly. He comes from Adobe most recently in their marketing space, as well as Marketo so a really strong marketing background at that event. And we also saw that they were talking about, about content increasing content and content strategy.


[00:12:26] And so I think we’re going to see a really big focus on content going forward as well as skills and skills framework, but probably the most interesting thing that they shared with us was the new architecture for their, how all their systems are going to work together. And the decision that they had made not to replatform the cornerstone Saba or talent link, which is part of, I think, the old halogen product solutions into anything new.


[00:12:48] They were going to be creating layers on top of those, um, to basically do microservices level connectors to the customers would not have to pick up a new product or get a new replatform. So quite a bit of information that they sort of unloaded in the three and a half hours that we were there. John, you got to sit through, I think some of the videos and you had some conversations with Jennifer Warren who put this together.


[00:13:12] How does that compare to what you saw on the videos?


[00:13:14] John Sumser: So, what I take away from what I’m seeing at Saba is that, you know, the learning and development market is huge, but it’s huge. in content . It’s not huge in software and the software that was such a great idea. 20 years ago kind of worked so well. And so there is this technology company, they get technology multiples in their valuation that it has decided that they’re going after the content business.


[00:13:43] And I think they really decided that before years ago. Yeah. But it is a good recognition of what’s going on going on in the sector, which is that learning management systems have never really matured into a big consolidate standardize market. And they don’t really serve their function because they’re impossible to maintain.


[00:14:04] And so going after content is they’re positioned well to do it, but it really starts to offer the nagging question of are they really a technology company.


[00:14:14] Stacey Harris: I’d maybe p osition it a little bit differently? There’s no doubt that the LMS market and the talent suite market in general, right? We’re seeing people planning to replace those type of things at a much higher percentages than we’re seeing on the other HR technology right now, somewhere in between the range of 30 to 35% are either evaluating or planning to replace those technologies.


[00:14:34] But I, I would say that it’s not that they didn’t work. I think what it was is that they didn’t work when they weren’t connected with the really important data that was going on inside of organizations. So, you know, when you couldn’t connect it to the activity in your workforce management systems or your HR systems or your business continuity systems, they just became empty shelves that nobody filled.


[00:14:56] And that was really, I think that the challenge for both talent suites and LMS is. They’re wonderful tools. If their field was really good information, but most of the time, the information there is out of date and this content play is interesting. One of the most thrown out announcements that I hadn’t heard from them before is that they are creating their own content as well, all as sort of gathering just mountains and mountains of content from other sites.


[00:15:20] And in doing that, they’re now creating what we call it LX you think LRP, but basically a tool that allows you to, to content into other systems. So I think that really hearkens to what you were talking about. John they’re, they’re wanting to become a content organization and. Does that feel a little bit like what we’re seeing out of the apples and the, and the Netflixes as well?
[00:15:40] Is that the model you think they’re following?

[00:15:42] John Sumser: Well, that’s certainly the one that they talked about initially that they were with to be kind of a Netflix, but a B to B Netflix wouldn’t make any money. Cause that flux is the consumer base. The whole increased consumption by using recommendations of posts.


[00:15:59] That’s not really work when you have. People who are HR customers? Um, HR is so different from company to company. It’s hard to find consistency in HR content because things are different in every context, you know, this is a thing we talk about lot. So you can’t standardize on consumption and the way you can in a marketplace where you have tens of billions of consumers who can be turned into personas is just, we’ll never have that level of consumption one of these systems.


[00:16:34] So you can’t have big day, the consequence of those things. But content sales is the largest part of the learning and development industry. 95% of the revenue and learning and development is courseware. And it’s reasonable to go after them. I mean, that’s a big target, even if it’s shrinking rapidly, it’s still a monstrous marketplace.


[00:16:57] Stacey Harris: Yeah.


[00:16:58] I would agree. Yeah. And you know, if they could crack the nut of how you customize or tailor in a more automated fashion. I didn’t hear them talking about any of that, but I think that’s really those silver bullet on the content stage. I think that’s the piece that Skillsoft couldn’t get to a lot of organizations can’t get to it.


[00:17:13] And it’s exactly what you’re talking about. You need to tailor the content and that business level. And it’s really hard to do if you have to do it all by hand, right.


[00:17:20] John Sumser: That’s right. You said something that caught my attention. Are you seeing learning and development tools that tie to metrics inside of the rest of the HRS?
[00:17:31] I don’t think I’ve seen that anywhere.


[00:17:34] Stacey Harris: Not as standalones right now, we are definitely seeing that kind of thing show up when they are somehow connected to their core HR. So this is part of what we’re starting to see with some of the Workday stuff. Definitely. Some of what I saw with what SAP and success factors were doing with their learning platforms, it takes a concerted effort.


[00:17:53] It takes an integration conversation to have it. And I do see that we, that we see some organizations who take this one that you and I both have looked at, you know, Exonify, you know, a great, but small products. That tied to sales outcomes and those kinds of things. So you see sometimes the content and small delivery tools, but LMS is as they stand, even the experience, the degree, the L X piece, as they’re calling them learning experience platforms.


[00:18:20] Now, even those are not, I think, as of yet figuring out how to connect that connection with the business side. And I think that is probably the biggest gap right now. So, no, I wouldn’t say I’m seeing it in any large swath across the learning space, but that is what’s needed. Yeah.


[00:18:35] John Sumser: You know, I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of this before.


[00:18:38] It’s so obvious, but what you just said is they don’t connect to the business side. And what that means said that the way is the LMS is to have nothing to do with the business. I think, I think that may be close to the truth of where the market has sort of stalled because what you’re trained in.


[00:18:57] Inside of a company, what you’re trained in only matters if it has some impact on effect of this is the marketplace, and that can be more sales. It would be better margin. It could be higher quality products. There are all sorts of ways, but the only reason you would ever train somebody is to solve those sorts of problems.


[00:19:17] And so the fact that at this point in time, training systems don’t have direct feedback loops to business performance. That’s almost bizarre, That’s almost bizarre.


[00:19:29] Stacey Harris: I mean they would say that it’s performance management metrics. Again, that depends on if those are being pulled from a business conversation. Every instructional designer is trained on the fact that you should be tying outcomes and your objectives to business, they all know that you need business metrics to make a business case for learning.


[00:19:46] I don’t think this is for a lack of trying in the industry. I think this has been a little bit of a. So the limitations of the technology, to be honest, and we’re getting to a point where hopefully those limitations can be broken down, but it might be a little late for some of those systems that will were built early on.


[00:20:01] John Sumser: Let me ask this, is it possible for a learning and development professional to make those connections without technology?


[00:20:10] Stacey Harris: Yes. And they do it all the time.


[00:20:12] John Sumser: Does the learning department, they do it all the time. So there’s something that the client does all the time that the software doesn’t do. How much does that you think there is?


[00:20:22] Do you look at that in the study,


[00:20:23] Stacey Harris: We don’t look at that, well, a little bit, we look at it from the sense of your biz, your, your BI and analytics tools, what are they actually achieving from an outcome perspective? And what integrations do you have in your system? So we can look at that across that it is really hard to do in any one platform.


[00:20:40] Most of the time we see it in some sort of a aggregated BI platform, which again is generally something that’s available to a larger company. So what most learning professionals oftentimes do is more of a one off, you know, they do through surveys, they do it through interviews and business metrics that they then sort of put together an Excel spreadsheets with the data they get from their learning sources.


[00:21:00] Those are the kinds of things that we see that. It is how it’s done today. If you had goal sets that, that make those connections or do those integrations, and I do think the vendors are working towards that. It’s just that it doesn’t happen as regularly as it should.


[00:21:15] John Sumser: Yeah that’s really crazy. That is a bad thing.


[00:21:18] What you just described there is a bad thing in need of fixing.


[00:21:22] Stacey Harris: I think many would agree with you. Yes. Yep. I think some of what you’re seeing in the news this week, I mean, if we look at where the investments are taking place right now, those organizations, we saw one organization that is focusing on metrics called the HR data hub, which is raising $1 million in seed funding from the UK being funded by some friends that we all know, Chris, Bruce, and Michael White online of Thompson’s online benefits back in the day.


[00:21:49] And. It’s a small company right now, just 250 companies. But I think they’re looking at trying to get benchmarking metrics that maybe get to some of that, which is, can I assess if my learning matches up with your learning, but I still don’t think that gets to the context, which is what we’re talking about and the business Mo metrics within your own company.


[00:22:06] We’re also seeing investments in more HRMS type organizations. Again, I think that’s where we’re seeing. If people are talking about where they’re going to increase spending HR and payroll seem to be the numbers right now. And we’re definitely seeing investments in more of the AI stuff that we were talking about and the skills, frameworks, and that kind of stuff that might be auto updated.


[00:22:26] But I don’t know if that’ll get there yet. So.


[00:22:30] John Sumser: It’ll be interesting. So one last one in all of this, you want to give two minutes to TikTok?


[00:22:40] Stacey Harris: Everybody’s talking about, all we can say is that they’re not getting the algorithm. They’re just getting the data. I’m not quite sure what to say about that, but data is valuable in and of itself. So we’ll see where that goes. Right? That’s the big thing there is that means you still have access to it. But what about this career builder?


[00:22:54] This is a pretty big announcement to say that they’re doing $300 million in investment over the next three years in talent acquisition. Is that, is that newsworthy for career builder? Are they in need of new investment in this space?


[00:23:08] John Sumser: Well, so I think this means we’re going to spend money to overhaul our software.

[00:23:14] Isn’t that what that means.


[00:23:16] Stacey Harris: Usually.


[00:23:17] John Sumser: Because there’s certainly not spending three-hundres millions dollars to actually go out and research the market of the product. That would be actual research and development. So this is we’re going to spend more money on software. We’re going to spend more money on developing ourselves. And so what does that mean? That means that career builder is getting serious about becoming a technology company.


[00:23:38] They’ve always sort of wanted to be a technology company, but wouldn’t shake loose the paper routes. And so maybe this is a public commitment. It also might be. They were purchased by private equity sometime back. And it may be that the private equity is finally figuring out that you really need to spend.


[00:24:00] The question is how much really spending already, right? This doesn’t tell you anything, because if they were spending $280 million, this is a ‘so what.’


[00:24:09] Stacey Harris: Yes. Yeah. I thought it was a little bit of a interesting, we don’t usually see organizations make big announcements about new investments in R and D. It usually is along with something else.


[00:24:19] This is an update that there have added a couple of E functionality inside of their system. But I mean, CareerBuilder’s not a standalone ATS right now. Correct?


[00:24:28] John Sumser: As far as I know, they own a company in France. That’s an ATS company. I think that’s talent soft, but I might be wrong.


[00:24:37] Stacey Harris: That was my question was, is this mean that they’re going to compete head on with like an ice or something?


[00:24:42] John Sumser: Yeah. And my guess is that in some markets they will, when you look at the overall HR marketplace, it’s fast, probably a million and a half entities. You know, if you just add ADP and Paychex customer accounts, You get to 1,000,003, and you know, nobody uses both of those. So you get to a million three people who pay to have payroll done.


[00:25:07] And there are all sorts of things in that million, three businesses from big giant companies that have complicated stuff. Like you look at all the time to everybody else in the whole wide world who has a couple of cloud based services that they use that are loosely held together. And so down in that market, which is where the majority of the clients are.


[00:25:29] Which is where the majority of the recoup in advertising, you can be a software provider, fairly limited functionality. There’s a lot of people that did some very big compared to other business, to business markets. It’s a very big market and I think that’s what they’re doing, right? So I’m not sure I’ve ever seen them compete with ICIMS.


[00:25:49] They may want to, but the real money for them, it’s going to be in small deals with small companies, eating with people like workable or something.


[00:25:59] Stacey Harris: OK.


[00:25:59] Well, There we go. I will make one comment. Before we log off for today, they did make a quote inside of their press announcement saying 74% of companies forsee spend for HR technology increasing over the next 12 to 24 months.


[00:26:12] I have to put a little bit of a pin in it and say, I can promise you based on what we’re seeing in our data. That’s not the case. 74% of companies are not increasing HR technology spend. So hold that thought for a moment. We’ll get you the actual data points coming out here in the next few weeks. But it’s definitely not going to be that high.


[00:26:29] I’m not sure where they got that data from or what it’s quoting. It might’ve been some last year data, but the space is not increasing.


[00:26:37] John Sumser: Let me just catch you there for a second. I bet the total HR technology spending is going up, but it’s for health and safety stuff that would never show up in the environment that we work in.


[00:26:50] Right. So HR technology that sanitizes people or prevents bugs from running around the office or automatically cleans the toilets, all that stuff is HR technology. And that’s HR technology then the market’s exploding.


[00:27:06] Stacey Harris: Yeah. I’ll give you that much, John. I’ll let, I’ll let you stretch there.


[00:27:11] John Sumser: OK Good! Alright, This was curmudgeon Thursday.


[00:27:16] Stacey Harris: That’s right. Me and you were swapping sides on that one. All right. Well, next week we’ll have even more stuff to update on. I think there’s a couple other events that we’re going to be going to, and we’ll maybe catch up on some of the stuff we didn’t get to talk about today, but a good conversation as usual, John.


[00:27:32] John Sumser: Yeah. Thanks so much Stacey it’s been great today. Thanks everybody for tuning in and listening. This has been HR Tech Weekly One Step Closer with Stacey Harris and John Sumser. See you back here next week.


[00:27:44] Stacey Harris: Thanks everyone, bye!

Read previous post:
2020-09-17 Employee Engagement Is About To Get (A Lot) More Challenging HR Examiner article Jason Lauritsen stock photo img cc0 via pexels andrea piacquadio 3880893 sq 200px.jpg
Employee Engagement Is About To Get (A Lot) More Challenging

“Gallups recent engagement trends data is such a head-scratcher. According to their most recent data, employee engagement is at an...