Video with full transcript

In this video, John Sumser discusses the transition from enterprise to intelligent HR software and solutions at an IBM Think TED Talk.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about the discussion we had in the interview. Post your comments on or my YouTube Channel »



Presentation with Full Transcript



Important: Our transcripts at HRExaminer are AI-powered (and quite 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.



JS – John Sumser, Principal Analyst, HRExaminer

00:00:02:15 – 00:00:06:26
Hello. As he said I’m John Sumser and I am delighted to be here.

00:00:06:26 – 00:00:41:10
Before I get started though I want to be sure to tell you what an extraordinary experience I’ve had with the people at IBM who are putting this thing together. It has been just one seamless execution after another and a lot of fun to be part of this. I run something called The HR Examiner and you oughta take a look at HRExaminer dot com, we run content all the time radio shows and postings including a piece every Tuesday, that’s a way to stay up to speed on AI stuff called the HR Intelligencer. Please take a look at it.

00:00:46:03 – 00:01:00:15
So. I want to tell you about an artist and this should be good for you to have on your coffee table in your office. The artist’s name is Ercis Worley. He’s a German comedian and social critic and what he does is take.

00:01:01:24 – 00:02:40:24
Pieces of normal existence and deconstruct them. So I want to I’m going to work with his two images of a fruit bowl here. You’ve got the fruit salad in the pope and I bowl. This is how our sees that when he’s done with his analysis and he’s measured and deconstructed the fruit bowl into its constituent parts you see a bowl a spoon. Lots of slices of fruit. And over at the end there’s this row of dots. And if you look if you think carefully in the original picture the dots were on the ball. That’s my example of what happens if you get overly enthusiastic about quantification you start counting things that don’t matter. You start attributing some sort of causality to the things that don’t matter. And so if you went to a machine with this sort of look at the world and you said I want to take this recipe for 4 and turn it into a recipe for three you’d get three quarters of a bowl three quarters of a spoon and three quarters of the dots and that wouldn’t matter because you actually need the whole bowl in the spoon to do it. And so there’s a there’s a real trick. Associated with this next phase of computing which is taking us past. The aggressive quantification of the enterprise software era and into the world that the people are so far the stage I’ve been talking about. I think there is. An extraordinary difference between

00:02:41:25 – 00:07:35:22
Enterprise software and the stuff that we’re headed into. And it is as different. As the football as an entire entity and the constituent parts. One of the things you know about the constituent parts is that no matter how much you count those things you can’t get. To the juice in the bottom of the fruit bowl which is often the best part of the fruit salad. The emergent phenomena is that all of the pieces blend together and interact with each other. And what you get is something. Beyond anything that you can count. What we’ve been doing in enterprise software is. Going to work inside of the software. And so so the emphasis on workflow and documentation is. Sort of the last vestige of the industrial era it was what we needed to do to get data into our systems. And many of us spent the last 20 years being reprimanded for not filling out the documentation completely and accurately. The machine is going to be doing that more and more and more and more and we’re going to be doing something that looks a whole lot more like work than it looks like filling out forms to make the machine happy. That’s the difference. We’re going to be working on the fruit salad now instead of working on the constituent components of the fruit salad. So the difference between these two things. The Enterprise era. And the Post enterprise or the intelligence software era is over here. It’s a rigid compartmentalized view of how things go together. And it is particularly difficult to maintain because rigid categories aren’t how organizations work. Organizations work. You get a routine. The chaos happens and then you get a routine again. And then the chaos happens. And then you get a routine again. And the categories that you establish at the beginning of that cycle. Often don’t mean anything at the end of the cycle. So the data has been. Sometimes irrelevant. Sometimes we find ourselves filling out forms to measure stuff that we don’t even remember why it’s on the list any longer because that’s how software works in the enterprise era. Going forward. Somebody somebody sent it in a great way and one of the earlier conversations data is going to be collected. Passively. And we won’t be spending our time. Doing data entry and satisfying the machine we’re not going to be in a world where. The software is the work. We’re going to be in a world where the software kicks us off the screen and says it’s time for you to go to work here’s what we’d recommend that you do. And so the interface is going to be very different. Over here. And intuitive engaging interface is what we’ve tried to do to get you to do the awful tour of data entry. Over here. The machine isn’t going to want you to be engaged it’s going to want you to go do your job and so there’ll be instructions pushing you away from the software rather than having you be more and more engaged in the software. Going forward. The work used to be the software. Now the work is moving away from your desk and actually doing things and creating value. The software was the work. In the future the work is the work. And that’s an enormous difference so in the past its rigidity its structure its categorization. In the future its search its fluid its adaptive you know in the Amazon warehouses. They don’t put anything in a specified Bean the next thing that comes into the warehouse goes in the next available space and you don’t have to have it categorized. Because that’s what the machine does. The machine remembers where everything is for you. This was hierarchical. This was the. White male view of how to build a railroad and win a war. And we’re going into a world where. The next most important thing is what you do and that’s what the systems are designed to push you towards over here. Workflow. The guy with the TPM reports from Office Space. You know did you get this. Did you get the stupid bit of administrative done as if administratively ever added anything to anything

00:07:37:17 – 00:07:39:08
In the new world to do your job.

00:07:41:19 – 00:09:13:04
We want to see the end product. We don’t want to understand your process. We don’t care what your process is we can measure that pass of what we want is for you to add value and if you’re not adding value. Please don’t tell me it’s because you’re filling out forms for a computer to understand it. Do the job. So the software was a destination. And this is heavily overplayed right now. But in the future the software as a personality it’s a partner it’s somebody that you want to keep updated so that the two of you can be better at the job as a team. Over here. It’s deconstructed. It’s a wild pile of ingredients that don’t account for what actually happens inside of the organization and in the future. It’s a fruit salad. And so what I want to do is invite you to think about how we’re going to eat this fruit salad together and forget about the ingredients the machine is going to cook. Takeaways. We’ve been thinking about software as the primary focus of our work. For longer than a generation now. And it was a good way to move forward. And it’s useless today and we’re going to be moving further and further away from that because as it has always been the case value is created outside of the organization and away from your desk. So thanks appreciate having the time to tell you.


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