I am in New York City for an event with a group of Wall Street analysts, and I was walking to the meeting from my hotel. I love New York City (still dream of living here someday) and was enjoying the bustle of everyone headed to work on a Monday morning. As I was walking along, though, I noticed not one, but two men headed to the office carrying absolutely nothing but their iPad!
I have been one of these people on occasion, although I haven’t completely given up a few vices (like my notebook and an overpriced briefcase). But upon reflection on my own experience combined with the notion that two people in six blocks makes a trend, it makes me wonder if we’ll all be runnning around with nothing but that super slim device in our hands before long.
This is all anecdotal trivia for a Monday morning, but I know something for sure – these folks are the knowledge workers of our time, and if we expect them to use our HR self-service applications effectively, we’d better make sure they’re optimized for devices like this one.
We’ll have lots more to say on that subject soon…….
Today I am pleased to introduce you to my guest blogger, Cecile Alper-Leroux (firstname.lastname@example.org):
This is a question I often ask myself and am asked in my role of Director of HCM Product Strategy at Lawson. As luck would have it, I recently spent three days at Lawson’s Conference and User Exchange meeting with many of the 2000 customer and prospect attendees – the perfect time and place to ask a number of end users of technogy what they thought about the topic.
So before I tell you what I found out, I’ll tell you what I expected to hear on the subject. I believed that technology only matters in so much as it directly affects the end user’s experience. In other words, that a user can find the information they are looking for easily, that the user experience is intuitive and pleasant, even natural. Basically, that it is all about the look and feel for an end user of technology. Seems basic enough, nothing earth-shattering about that assertion until we look under the covers of what might impact the end user experience. It turns out that technology has everything to do with a user’s experience because of one thing-choice. If a user wants a new idea to be quickly implemented and pervasively available in their user experience, the technology has to suppprt a rapid agile development methodology for the new feature the user chooses to implement. If a user wants to choose to work in a technology environment or Space that is completely intuitive and as ordinary as checking email, the technology has to be extensively embedded in the end user’s email, as well as deployable in other ways. That kind of speed of development and interface deployment choice can truly only come with a model-driven development methodology such as the one Lawson uses today to rapidly develop and deploy its HCM applications written using Landmark.
So what did end users tell me mattered about technology? That end-users wanted to be able to participate in the design and development process and see the fruits of their innovative ideas in the next release (flexible, rapid development), they wanted everyone in their organization to readily adopt and use the technology (make the technology available where and how users work- in Outlook or other delivered Spaces), and finally, that the technology matters in so much as it should never get in the way of completing work (stable technology and consistent processes, hallmarks of a model-driven development platform).
What have you heard and why does technology matter to you?
First of all, this is my first attempt at writing an entire blog post from my new iPad, which I love with intensity! Whether that will be true after a few hundred words, remains to be seen. I will let you know at the end of the post.
This was a great week for customer meetings, especially consulting with folks trying to build justification for talent management technology investments. A few observations:
1. Hard and soft benefits are still relevant, but why would you expect that to work if it never has in the past?
2. It takes a very passionate HR leader to get these projects over the finish line. And my experience suggests that the secret sauce is a great relationship between the HR leader and business line execs. Show how better data about people will correlate to business outcomes that will matter to them and you will get it done.
3. I continue to be surprised by organizations that say they want true insight into the workforce, but their language is all centered around automating the transaction processes. I will be the last person to suggest that we shouldn’t be trying to lower the cost of service delivery, but if your primary focus is only that, you are almost certain to end up with silos of HR data that won’t deliver on the strategic vision. And when the crisis for richer data comes (and it will), getting insight will be expensive (if not impossible). Perhaps similar to the results you got when you turned those paper appraisal forms into a word doc or a spreadsheet?
Integrated talent management initiatives that drive breakthrough business outcomes are long-term investments that are based on a shared, passionate vision between HR execs and operations leadership.
And the iPad? Once again, it exceeds my expectations. One other comment: if I do one more spontaneous demo of this thing, I will ask for a commission. More importantly, I need to figure out how to get my customers this passionate about our products. Hats off to the folks at Apple…well done. I really should go buy that stock now…
I was reading systematic HR’s latest post (here) about how employee engagement will become more important to HR leaders as an underlying dynamic driving more visible measures of turnover, retention and employee productivity. I read it about 15 minutes after I communicated with my leadership team about the importance of driving participation in our own annual engagement survey, and it got me thinking about technology intersections with these visible issues.
Here’s what I’d add to the discussion: engagement is critical as companies try to position themselves as an employer-of-choice. But there’s a critical question: what do organizations know about the behaviors (especially for leaders) that directly impact employee engagement? Is it about communication style? Empathy? Accountability for results? I talk to customers almost daily on these kinds of issues and over and over again, I discover the same answer. If they have data, it’s anecdotal at best, and the decision-making related to it is almost completely subjective.
The answer? Build the right competency framework (at the behavior level) and measure against it. Once you have insight into those behaviors that directly impact engagement, you’re driving real competitive advantage. It’s not easy, and requires real alignment between people, process and technology. And then the decision-making from this data is significantly more objective, reliable and credible. Take that story to operations leadership at the company and HR’s seat at the table will be guaranteed.
I was reading Seth Godin’s latest post (here) about how too much data can cloud people’s judgement, limiting their ability to use faith in decision-making. This got me thinking about all the time I spend daydreaming about how we can help HR leaders leverage more data about people so that their faith or instinct isn’t the primary (or in some cases only) decision criteria.
From where I sit, the bottom line is this: learning how to trust your instinct is a critical behavior (and arguably one that should be measured!), but data can be a great tool to confirm or deny what instinct tells you about people. Talent managers that can balance the two with skill will deliver breakthrough business outcomes to operational leadership.