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Hosts Stacey Harris and John Sumser discuss important news and topics in recruiting and HR technology. Listen live every Thursday at 8AM Pacific – 11AM Eastern, or catch up on full episodes here.

HR Tech Weekly

Episode: 44
Air Date: October 29, 2015


This Week

This week John and Stacey discuss:

  • HR Tech Transformations (related to most recent HR Tech)
  • Oracle Open World
  • HR Tech World Congress
  • SAP reaches 1,000 HCM customers in EMEA
  • NGA Human Resources introduced Cloudify Payroll Offering
    REI to close its stores on Black Friday
  • SCORM (“Sharable Content Object Reference Model”)

About HR Tech Weekly

Hosts Stacey Harris and John Sumser discuss important news and topics in recruiting and HR technology. Listen live every Thursday at 8AM Pacific – 11AM Eastern, or catch up on full episodes here.

HR Tech Weekly Episodes

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Begin transcript

John Sumser:                        Good morning and welcome to HR Tech Weekly One Step Closer with Stacey Harris and John Sumser. That little Irish lilth always gets me dancing first thing in the morning. How are you Stacey?

Stacey Harris:                        I am good, John. I am good. We are finally at home. This has been definitely a couple weeks of road trips so I am sitting at home in North Carolina looking out my back door at my trees turning yellow and gold and red. Just a little bit of rain in the sky so I am quite happy today.

John Sumser:                        I am glad you are home. When you get near the airport do they send people out to wave and worship you as you come through? Oh it’s our lucky day here comes the queen again.

Stacey Harris:                        It would be nice. No they do not recognize me one bit fortunately. There are a lot of people who travel more than me so as much as I have been traveling lately … I will take some home time right now. It sounds like you will be on the road here in the next couple weeks but hopefully all of us will get some down time in December.

John Sumser:                        I’m going to have a great trip. I am going to the Delta User Conference in Nashville. I am going to see the people at EquiFax in St. Louis. I am going to HR Revolution and then I am going to the One Source Virtual Users Conference in Dallas. I am going to get to live out of a suitcase and stay in hotels. Doesn’t that sound like fun?

Stacey Harris:                        The hotels doesn’t sound like so much fun but the events sound like great opportunities to get a chance to get out and talk to everyone. You have to take the ups with the downs.

John Sumser:                        I am really looking forward to it. The people at One Source virtual, I don’t know if you follow them, but the people at One Source Virtual they pulled in 150 million dollars of investment capital and it is an implementation company. They do nothing but work the implementations. It is astonishing.

Stacey Harris:                        Yeah, we cover them and I think last week, I don’t know if it was last week or the week before where they announced that they are not just doing WorkDay because they were primarily HCM and then I think it was in the last couple months or so they announced. May be WorkDay rising it might have been. They are now doing the finance side as well of implementation. They also host and manage services and managed services model as well through WorkDay. Host be in fact they sort of have a model where they will sort of be the primary sort of conduit for all of the updates and upgrades and managed service issues that go along with your HCM and now finance system as well. I think they are growing rapidly and definitely and interesting model to watch from an implementation system integrator perspective.

John Sumser:                        As the haze from HR Tech you left cleared, anything stick in your mind after all of that running around besides the extraordinary response you got to your presentation?

Stacey Harris:                        Thank you, John. I appreciate that. We definitely saw a lot of I think interest in the topic of HR Tech transformations, right? The one thing that came, it was interesting, I had someone asked me what were the really big difference between this HR Tech and other HR Tech events I have attended in the past as far as the briefings and the conversations that I had. I think the biggest difference is here is that the conversations weren’t dominated this year by what we would consider the traditional, the enterprise, the large organizations. They were dominated a lot more by smaller, newer organizations this year. That might have been my briefing schedule but it also might have just, I think there is a lot of conversation right now that there are really only a few big guys at the top right now left so it is leaving a lot of arrant space for innovative new organizations to make some noise and have a conversation.

We really see there is only a few really large talent suites now sort of left at the top. There is only a few large enterprise core HRS mass total environments right now that are sort of moving, that haven’t sort of bought up everyone else. So there is a lot of room at the bottom. That is probably my big take away and what I sort of walked through with some recently.

John Sumser:                        That is interesting. I think I might see that a little differently. I agree that there is a lot of consolidation at the top but what it looks like to me is that every time you take a company out, 5 others spring up to take it’s place. There is a lot of really interesting stuff forming at the bottom because people say, “Oh you sold your learning company for 8 billion dollars I’d like some of that. I think I will start a learning company.” It is hard to argue that what looks like consolidation at the top level is actually real pressure to grow the bottom level. It is a bewildering array of little companies and then you go to the top, we were talking about this before. You go to the top and it’s very hard to understand what the large scale enterprise companies actually do.

It is really hard to understand what the large scale enterprise companies think your business should look like if you are one of their customers. It is even hard for the people who work there to understand what they do. Are you seeing that, too?

Stacey Harris:                        I did spend the first 2 day of this week at Oracle Open World. I had to get home for some family stuff but I tried to attend as much of Oracle Open World as I could before I had to come home. I will say that was definitely a theme. There was this, a lot of great opportunities I think the entire week to talk about things like big data, enterprise cloud. They launched their manufacturing and supply chain cloud as well as some e-commerce cloud and big visual databases in the cloud from a BI and Analytics perspective. All of that conversation was over shadowed by the conversation you just said was there is so many brands, so many things- infrastructure, platform as a service, software as a service- to talk about when you are talking about someone as big as Oracle. That a lot of people are still struggling to kind of figure out what that looks like at the end of the day.

I will say the one thing that I thought was really good is that Larry Ellison sort of as a wrap up on his key notes did a walk through of sort of the world when it is all connected and it included not only your business systems and your BI and analytics systems and your marketing systems and your CRM solutions, right. Also, Learning and HCM and they did a really nice walk through how someone would go through their entire process from setting up their customers, to managing their customer, to getting into a sales conversation and how they would leverage that from a people and a human capital perspective. I think they have a vision that this is a whole world connected but I am not sure their clients are there yet.

John Sumser:                        I get that the whole world is connected. I have been learning somethings in my company this last month or so about what it means to have access to all sorts of information. I wonder, let’s say you have all the information you could have at your fingertips. Let’s say there is nothing you could know that isn’t in data available to you on your cellphone. How does that make you a better decision maker? Is 80% good enough? We have been running the world if you say that for some reason you need 100% of the information available to you at all times. We have been running the world on 20-30% of the information. The historical mark of a great decision maker is they know how to stop worrying about information and start making decisions. I wonder if the idea of a comprehensive data availability, maybe that is what we are talking about, is sort of over the top. It is something that a geek would think about rather than a good business person.

Stacey Harris:                        I think it is the big difference, right, between what the enterprise vendors are seeing as sort of their mantra in the world, right. Their conversations about it’s data, it’s information all tied in with security, right? There was a big conversation this week about the security of data at the chip level. The silicon level as they kept talking about and how many systems and how many total connections you have and integration platforms, right? In the end of the day the weakest link continues to be your employee both on a security front, a human front, a sales front, a decision making front, right? The fact that all these organizations have smart tools to help them isn’t valuable in so far as you have employees or people who you can either trust or who have the skill sets to make sense of those, right?

John Sumser:                        I think this is the great theme that we could return to every week that never gets boring. That is, is this a question where something like engagement, I don’t think much of that concepts but something like engagement. Something like trust building or self developing organizations is the answer or is it some sort of technical infrastructure that is the answer? In my experience you could do a lot without technical infrastructure. You can’t do a lot without the trust of your employees.

Stacey Harris:                        Yeah. One of the things we wanted to highlight this week was the HR Tech World Congress that took place down in Paris also this week. That was the last 2 day that went through. My understanding was that they had sort of standing room only in their sessions. It transferred over to Paris from Amsterdam. It sounds like a very successful transfer as to their main location. Changing up their style a bit, they did more of a Ted Talk approach was my understanding with 20 minute sessions which I really think went over quite well it sounded like with the audience.

More so I think what was interesting, we were talking about, the conversations we heard coming out of the HR Tech World Congress this week sort of differing a little bit from what we heard last week coming out from other conferences is that they were much more focused on what maybe human conversations in some sense then just the technology side of it. I don’t know, John, would you say that is kind of what you are talking about? Is that a little bit closer to the need that we have to balance these conversations do you think?

John Sumser:                        I don’t know. This idea of that what you have trade shows for is so that every service provider can release an intoxicating flurry of product announcements that nobody can make any sense out of. I am not sure who that serves. It is like you and I get this hair ball of news in October that customers can’t make any sense out of. You need consultants to go to the trade shows to help you understand what the service providers just offered and usually it is much to do about nothing.

Then you go to Europe and the point of a conference in Europe is educational, right? There is not this emphasis of product at the HR Tech conference in Europe and having Richard Branson as the keynote made great strides for the industry in Europe. Somebody of significant stature came and he didn’t just show up and do the speech he was there for the entire conference. There are pictures of him with all sorts of people all over the place. The folks who run that conference were able to move the reputation of the industry forward in a very interesting and particularly European way. I thought that was pretty exciting.

Stacey Harris:                        I think the only announcement that I heard really, and I went trolling for announcements, that was a big thing I was doing this morning just to see some of the big ones. I am sure there might have been some that I might have missed but the one big one that was announced was SAP announced 1,000 HCM customers. Of course if you dug into that was about 300 of those were employee central the rest were in success factors and their plateau products but I think that being sort of only big major announcement sort of that hit the headlines I guess you would say, right? Besides sort of these more human conversations. I think that says a lot. It say a lot at least about the conversations that were being held there and the focus of those conversations.

John Sumser:                        I wonder, outside of SAP and marginally Lumess, are there any other great HR tech companies that are primarily European? I probably just insulted 500 people.

Stacey Harris:                        I was just going to say, I think you are going to get a lot of, I think Metaphore would probably be a little bit upset with that. Maybe Unitfore would be upset with that a little bit. A lot of fores in that one. Even Remco which is definitely more Asia Pacific but has a big presence. Page Up has been focusing heavily in the European markets. I think you got a lot of organization I would say, a lot more regional and local. That is one of the conversations I heard definitely coming out of this event but even last year’s event that I attended but I didn’t get to attend this one someone else attended it for us. I think the conversations are very much more on the regional and local providers then they have been previously. I will say as far as total numbers go, SAP has seen a bit adoption increase but so has WorkDay to be honest as well as Oracle’s numbers. I think all across Europe we are seeing an increase in technology adoption. I think the question is will that increase in technology adoption be focused on using the technology or figuring out how to make the technology more human? To me that is the interesting conversation.

John Sumser:                        You know in some ways the European market is a much more interesting technical challenge because privacy legislation varies so broadly amongst the member states of the EU. There are radically different things that you have to do in each of those settings. You expect that over time technology and innovation would move towards Europe because the problem is more complex. It will be interesting to watch that.

Stacey Harris:                        I think that the privacy and data requirements around where information is held is going to create some different models almost, right? So an interesting, so MGA human resources, I guess they are a mix between sort of a technology provider and more of a services provider in the industry depends on how you look at them. They are an organization, one of the announcements they made and I don’t know if it was particularly with HR Tech Europe or actually HR Tech here in the United States. Their announcement that came out was around the fact that they are doing a now cloudafied payroll offering. I have to probably get a little bit more detail on this to make sure that I understand it appropriately but my understanding is that it is basically a service to move organizations on premise solutions into a hosted environment where they would maintain and update them and they would maybe do some of the innovations on them and they would provide some more flexible pricing models rather that you having your on premise.

Part of their focus on doing this is because of the fear of moving these on premise payroll solutions outside of the regions and outside the companies, right, because they are the stable solutions we have talked a bit about this in the past. I think because, that is just one example, what I think will be very different models for moving HR to the modern technology. Whether that is the cloud or some sort of a hybrid approach.

John Sumser:                        Do you just tell me? I think you gave me a headache. Did you just say cloudafied?

Stacey Harris:                        I did say cloudafied.

John Sumser:                        Your data is in the could but the servers are in your neighborhood?

Stacey Harris:                        I think. Yeah, that is a good way to put it.

John Sumser:                        When the cloud is in your neighborhood I think that is called fog.

Stacey Harris:                        I like that.

John Sumser:                        I think we just started a brand new business. Your data is in the fog.

Stacey Harris:                        Your data is in the fog. The local cloud. Just watch, when someone picks it up we get some rights on that one. Yeah.

John Sumser:                        I think that is a hard sell. People don’t want their data to be in the fog. I don’t want my data in the fog. What do we have 6 or 7 years of the cloud and it was non-sense when it started and it’s taken off. Why not the fog?

Stacey Harris:                        Why not the fog? There you go. Yes.

John Sumser:                        We help you get ready for the fog of war by keeping your data in the fog.

Stacey Harris:                        I do think it is going to be some new models. I guess that is the bigger conversation. Whether they are called the fog or cloud or cloudify.

John Sumser:                        I do think we are going to see some things. One of the other things that we will probably see in all of that is the social contract is different in each culture so what it takes to be a great human capital management tool in France is very different from what it takes to be a great human capital management tool in Germany. The work ethics, work design, the understanding of the relationship between the employee and employer all of those things are radically different. Legal, jurisdictionally, and French people don’t wear lederhosen. I think we are going to see a flowering of something that is the opposite what technology has been. Technology I think in America has marched towards this monolithic view where all of the data is all related in the single thing and everybody does it the same way. A more regional view of technology doesn’t do that.

Stacey Harris:                        No, it doesn’t but I think the models are going to create more regional looks but with the ability to roll it up to some aggregate level. I think that is going to be maybe the difference in the models, right? Which is that the details the things that could become data privacy issues will stay at the regional level, right? The important, again depending on what you say is important, but the important concept about being able to look at this stuff at an enterprise level gets rolled up right at an aggregate level and to some sort of enterprise solution. I think that is going to be the real challenge for a lot of these organization is that concept between personalizing what I need at the end level and rolling up what an enterprise or company needs at an enterprise level, right? Those are the two balancing things that organizations have to move forward with. It is interesting one of the stories that I pulled for this week was sort of out of topic from all the things we are talking about but actually in topic as far as the issues it might create. REI, I think it is pronounced REI. REI, that is REI, right? Is that REI or REI?

John Sumser:                        The equipment manufacturer?

Stacey Harris:                        The camping supply store. Yes.

John Sumser:                        REI. Yes, REI.

Stacey Harris:                        Yeah, REI. They are going to close their stores on black Friday and still pay employees to spend time outside, right? They are doing a hash tag around it, it has gotten a ton of press. I don’t know if it is because here in the states Thanksgiving and being home or being in the stores has been a big political issue or if it is just a matter they really have just put a lot of good press around this. The first think I thought when I saw this was hum, do you consider that a benefit? Is that a time paid conversation? How do you track that? Are you going to make sure they were outside doing something? Was there a hash tag opt outside, show pictures of themselves, right? So that is where my head went not how great it is for someone to get that day off and get paid for it. That is a technical conversation, right, about all the things of tracking that, managing it, rolling it out. Along with the human side of it, why should we do this, what is the value prop, how do we make it social, right? I think we are going to see more of those type of what we would call benefits or perks roll into this technology conversation. That is how you make it human, right?

John Sumser:                        That is an interesting thing. It tells you why benefits and perks are challenging. Not everybody wants the same benefits and perks. You learn that by looking at silicon valley but you think about REI, they sell camping equipment, right? Who do you know who is going to get up bright and early they day after Thanksgiving to go fight their way into a sale to buy a tent? It seems to me to be a great a response to the fact that in retail black Friday is a big deal but at REI it isn’t. By declaring this to be some sort of a moral thing they escape the scrutiny of Wall Street who wants to know why their Black Friday sales aren’t high because they are a retail company. It seems to me that it is a great dodge for a financial problem. There is nothing smarter then turning a great dodge for a financial problem into something your employees say thank you for.

Stacey Harris:                        Exactly. Yeah.

John Sumser:                        That is brilliant. That is brilliant management that doesn’t come from having all the data at all your finger tips. It comes from having a skill of turning lemons into lemonade. That is what great business people do and if you let them do it then you create these problems that are unique to the things that they create for their own business which contemporary software isn’t great about handling. That is what you are really saying is that the next generation of software should produce the ability for companies to differentiate rather than become the same.

Stacey Harris:                        That is just it, right? I mean doing that just that one day set off a huge amount of work on the HR front. Me and you know if you ever worked in HR [crosstalk 00:25:49]. Exactly. If your systems are not set up to allow for that kind of flexibility than anything like this becomes more of a headache than an opportunity and then it turns into less of a positive and more of an negative, right?

John Sumser:                        Right. Look Stacey, we are heading towards the end of the clock. What else is in your magic bag of tricks that we should cover before we are done? Is there anymore Oracle Open World?

Stacey Harris:                        Yeah, there is a couple from Oracle Open World. A couple on the HCM front, obviously the broader Oracle Open World or Oracle conversation over shadows often times what’s happening on the HCM front. I was pleased to see that HR and Learning were mentioned heavily through out the keynotes across all of the conversations. I was pleased to see that in the Analytics conversation Learning and HR was brought up as well at the enterprise level for Oracle. On the HCM front I thought there was a couple of interesting things to note. One, Chris Leon did a really deep dive on sort of what they expect to see from the learn platform as it starts to roll out.

The thing that blew my mind because I am on the Learning, you know my background in Learning and Development, is he was mentioning things like learning objects. If anybody in the old world of learning and development knows a learning object is just a truly geeks speak on the learning side and so what that queued for me is that they are truly working towards a SCORM compliant solution and you know, Gretchen couldn’t give me the exact date but I think Chris is pretty comfortable that by possibly by release 11 of Oracle HCM cloud their new learning cloud product will be SCORM compliant.

Now that is more than we have heard from some of the other vendors who are rolling out new learning products as far as dates and how they are going the leverage that. That will allow organizations if you don’t know anything about SCORM compliance or learning, it is going to allow organizations who have created huge libraries of basically learning objects. They are compliance driven learning that can now be played inside of this player tracked and data can be pulled out of it from an auditing perspective so it is a pretty big win for them if they are able to do that.

Other than that I think they mentioned that they are up to 700 global HR customers in Oracle HCM cloud. Their numbers are definitely increasing. Their big announcement was Smart Navigation. Search functionality that reads your profile and learns your preferences. I don’t think that is whole lot different from what we have seen from other organizations but it sounds like they are really investing and doubling down in the idea that when you search something you want that to be a very personalize message. So those were the big things that came out of that.

John Sumser:                        Wow. How long do you get to stay home? Do you get breathing space here?

Stacey Harris:                        I do. I plan to be home for the next three weeks. I have some stuff going on at home, personally with my family and I just simply need some time to be able to enjoy the fall season here in North Carolina. That is my goal. John it sounds like we will be swapping places while you are on the road I will be home. We will keep all of the news going hopefully over the next 3 weeks while are traveling.

John Sumser:                        I think people are going to start to say, “Hum, Stacey Harris and John Sumser you never see them in the same room at the same time. You think that is a coincidence?” They are going to think we are the same person.

Stacey Harris:                        I do not have nearly as pretty a pony tail as you do, John, so I don’t think that is going to happen.

John Sumser:                        Yeah, but I can’t keep up with you on 17,000 other levels. The pony tail doesn’t hack it for the things that you are good at. We have exhausted out allotted time. It has been another fun conversation. Thanks for doing this again Stacey. It is such a great thing to be able to do this with you. If you have been listening I hope you have a fantastic rest of your day. You have been listening to HR Tech Weekly One Step Closer with Stacey Harris and John Sumser. This was show 44. Have a great day. Thanks, Stacey.

Stacey Harris:                        Thanks, John. Thanks everyone. Bye.

End Transcript

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