It’s always interesting to be an HR guy inside of an ERP company – and that is especially true when we make major announcements about our product or technology direction. Last week was no exception when we announced our plans to offer our products on the Amazon Web Services Infrastructure. There is a fair amount of interesting news here, but none of it dramatically different from the approach that we HCM-specialists (inside of Lawson) have been following for the better part of a year.
The bottom line is this: give customers a Choice. Choice in how they license our software, how it’s deployed and who maintains it. And our announcement with Amazon changes the game for us with respect to deployment. What’s powerful about the model with Amazon (we haven’t told the full story about this yet, but will) is that it opens up opportunities for deployment efficiency that will ultimately rival that which is derived from a multi-tenant SaaS infrastructure.
Now I have made it a habit to never jump off the cliff to discuss publicly why we do (or don’t) offer a multi-tenant SaaS solution – there are plenty of others out there ready and eager to debate the issue on our behalf. But the reality is this – if a software vendor in the HCM space can deliver great functionality, with a service level that satisfies its customers, at a fair price while still meeting obligations to its stockholders to earn a profit, that’s what matters. And we will always take our direction on technology strategy in that context – regardless of the tenancy model (s) we ultimately decide to support.
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.
With many of my waking moments being occupied by the near-manic pursuit of a college short list for not one but two daughters in their senior year, my blogging has fallen off the cliff. Add to the mix the insanity of preparing to do the HR tech shootout, and overstimulation reigns.
But I’ve got the shootout behind me, and the entire Lawson team was beaming with pride and enthusiasm over our performance….in spite of 2nd place. For me, it’s primarily about showing off the work of our amazing employees and giving them a dose of adrenaline for the continued work of building, fixing, supporting, selling and implementing these great products. Plus lots of customers get to see a perspective on our stuff they probably wouldn’t see otherwise. It’s all good.
The HR capitalist did a good job of summarizing the highlights, so I won’t bother. Look here for a recap.
This one takes a village, and as the post notes, the entire population was sitting behind Dave while he ran the computer. But I couldn’t have done it without all of them — my sincere thanks to the entire Lawson team. It was a great experience, and I also appreciate all of the audience support for our products and the way we presented them. And seriously — reading from a script? I couldn’t imagine doing it. Ever.
I have been working closely with two K-12 school district customers that are in contention for a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The category? Improving teacher performance. In a nutshell, it’s about working with some progressive, large school districts to implement new programs for recruiting, retaining and rewarding teachers. The grant money will be used to fund the creation and operation of the programs for a few years. The objectives are to materially improve teacher performance and make (hopefully) breakthrough discoveries that can be replicated nationally.
The genesis of some of these ideas are traced back to a speech Bill Gates made last November. You can see a transcript of it here. Bottom line: these organizations will have an exceptional opportunity to rethink the way a critical talent pool (teachers) is deployed in the organization. There are a myriad of challenges here, one of which hits at the heart of what I care about — the infrastructure to manage, administer and analyze the programs. The grant proposal is very clear — districts receiving this funding must demonstrate how they will protect the sustainability of these programs after the grant funding runs out. That’s where integrated talent management technology comes in. If you are going to rethink the way you pay teachers for measurable performance outcomes (like student test scores), drive behavioral change in alignment with what exceptional teachers demonstrate and more flexibly deploy great teachers to the schools that most need them, spreadsheets just won’t cut it.
As always, these initiatives are about people, process and technology. And if I have my way, a few of us will get a special opportunity to show how enabling technology in talent management can really have an impact on something that truly matters: the education of our children. As a software guy, those days are few and far between — so I look forward to embracing this one with gusto. Stay tuned.
Ok, so I don’t have much credibility in the world of linguistics, but my product strategist, Cecile Alper-Leroux used the word ‘integrally’ to describe our talent management system. What does it mean? Building integrally means to create an integrated solution with integrity. I kinda like it — provided that I can figure out how to use it in a way that is gramatically correct — an obsession of mine. We’ll see.
But I wanted to write about it because of what Josh Bersin said in his recent blog post about his assessment of the state of the economy as it relates to talent management technology. He made an astute observation: that “integration” is more important than “functionality.” It got me thinking about what Cecile said, and I liked the connection.
The integrity part is about delivering the technology that can enable the rapidly evolving talent management business process — and the integration part speaks for itself.
I’m not sure I love it so much that I’m willing to try to coin a new term (the narcissist in me likes the idea), but I thought I’d put it out there — what do you think?
Please join me tomorrow at 1pm CST when I will be the guest on the next HRchitect WebMingle event. If you need details, you can find it here.