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Tag Archives: Lawson
No one can observe the turmoil in our economy without taking a good, hard look at how it impacts us personally and professionally. I’ll spare you my version of ‘have you looked at your 401k statements lately?’ (I haven’t.) but I will say that professionally, it’s been a wild ride over the past 60 days. There are many dimensions to this, but for today, I’ll focus on how it’s impacting the way we look at HR technology strategy – from the perspective of the customers we talk to every day. Last week, I was running around the country for various purposes, and had the opportunity to meet with two customers and a business partner. As you would expect, the question I asked everyone was the same – ‘How is the economy impacting your business and more importantly, your HR technology plans?’ The answer from the two customers? Not much. In fact, they recognize that their talent management strategies are immature enough that they believe that they have no choice but to make a bold move soon. Lucky for them (and for us), their initiatives are funded. That certainly won’t be the case for many other companies. From the business partner? A blind focus on rethinking how their products and services need to adapt to the changing economic landscape.
But funded or otherwise, it’s important to recognize that in this climate (probably more so than in the boom times we’ve enjoyed for several years) every initiative is going to have to demonstrate a higher standard of value. And that threshold will be even higher for HR as it competes with initiatives from the more mission-critical sides of the business. So as I think about these elements (and will dedicate a few blog posts to further developing them), here are the major trends I’m mulling over:
- Can projects that aren’t self-funding in some reasonable period of time have any chance of getting approved?
- While cost reduction will be a strong driver for projects in the near-term, everyone knows that managing talent is a long-term initiative – how do HR executives manage that balancing act?
- The name of the game is about demonstrating INSIGHT into the workforce – that’s not just about getting a talent profile developed about people – it’s about showing direct correlations between information about people and the measures of interest to the organization.
- Organizations have to look at how they are positioned on the talent management maturity curve and make sure that the investments they are making are aligned with the objectives they seek.
I firmly believe that near-term talent management technology initiatives that are not aligned with an integrated TM data management strategy are doomed to mediocrity. You might solve some operational problems, but getting the CFO’s attention because talent strategies are demonstrating correlation to operational KPIs (in my view, the holy grail) will be elusive.
And that has never been more important than in this ‘new’ economy, which we don’t yet truly understand.
Well, my fifteen minutes of fame as the headliner for the Bill Kutik radio show have ended with this week’s broadcast featuring Jim Holincheck from Gartner. Jim never disappoints — lots of great stuff on the show, and it’s definitely worth a listen.
I took note of Jim’s comments related to how the economy will shape organizations efforts to leverage the products (and vendors) they already work with. His observation about upgrade cycles with ERP vendors in particular, caught my attention. As we’ve been building the Lawson Talent Management application, we made a big, hairy commitment to our customers — that they could add talent management functionality without a forced upgrade. I joke about the notion that says, “You can have succession management — just upgrade your payroll system!” This is the reality for many companies (but not for those who chose Lawson).
Net-net: our customers can add talent management functions to any supported version of their current platform. No upgrade required. Lawson customers? You deserve it!
Recovery after HR Tech is always a challenge, so I am a few days late in the promised post.
The economy took center stage at this year’s conference — put perhaps not for the reasons you might have expected. I spent more time commisserating with my friends and colleagues about the damage to our 401k portfolios than how the business climate would hurt our industry! But aside from that, here are a few summary observations:
- There is little doubt that the economy will impact our industry, but the conference offered us little tangible evidence of how challenging it might be. Bill Kutik’s unscientific survey at the conference gave us a glimpse, and will serve as an interesting baseline to compare against. He wrote about it in his most recent column here.
- The talent management technology market continues to mature — but the vendors still have a way to go, as does the market. One thing I noticed for sure (systematichr also commented on the subject in this recent post): companies are increasingly serious about getting the right kind of long-term integration strategy between their HRMS system of record data and their talent management databases. We, of course, love that trend.
- Web 2.0 is still in its infancy — HR leaders are leveraging the wide range of open source tools to assemble collaboration environments (wikis, blogs, instant messaging, social networking), but no one is really tying together those elements are part of the HCM platform.
Overall, another great conference with lots of reason (macroeconomic dynamics aside) to be excited to an HR technology practitioner.
And I would be remiss if I didn’t finish this post with a plug for my interview on the Bill Kutik Radio Show this Wednesday, October 29 at Noon Eastern. Or, for those of you that are iTunes subscribers — I hope I do my part to distract you on the treadmill!
Day 2 was full of action both in the session rooms and on the show floor. Overall, the trade show events were well attended and at this point, I’d predict that if we see results worse than last year, it won’t be by a large margin.
In continuing with my video blogging, I had a great opportunity to chat today with fellow blogger Vinnie Mirchandani who shared with me some perspectives on the show, specifically some of the products he thinks should be showing up in the booths that haven’t. Take a look at it here.
In the Lawson booth, we’ve had our ‘corporate magician’ entertaining the troops. He did a great job of making a stop by the booth fun and interesting, and I’m happy to report many folks hung around for the Lawson pitch that followed — even after missing out on the opportunity to win the $100 bill he offered (due to his skilled slight-of-hand).
I was bombarded by folks as the show floor opened today at 10am, with everyone asking me — “Did you attend the analyst roundtable this morning?” Thanks to a reporter (who shall remain nameless) that no-showed for our 9am appointment, I missed it. I should have been there — evidently two of the analysts (Lisa and Zach — thanks!) specifically pointed out that Lawson’s work in talent management was differentiating us from the rest of the ERP pack. You can’t buy that kind of publicity.
In my final video clip, I’ve included one of the magic tricks that Charles performed and also an interview with Lanny Sperry, the Director of HRIS at Spectrum Health, one of our new talent management customers. More importantly, I asked him to recap the discussion in the analyst session for your viewing pleasure.
I’ll have some final show comments tomorrow after the event closes. Enjoy!
Thanks to Jason Corsello’s recent blog post, the HCM community is buzzing about some recent statements made by Harry Debes, our CEO, about the Software as a Service (SaaS) model. First of all, I’m impressed by Jason’s reach. I haven’t talked to anyone in the industry since he published the post that didn’t ask me about it – Jason, your readership is listening! The real question: does the old adage ‘all publicity is good publicity’ still hold? In this case, I think so.
But seriously – let me put the debate on this topic to bed. Harry was commenting about the role of SaaS in the global Lawson business – our suite of manfacturing, financials, procurement, supply chain and HCM products. And he stands by his position – he simply doesn’t believe that companies like Lawson have a viable business model in serving the market exclusively through SaaS. With that said, we’ve had his consistent support for the work we’ve done in launching Lawson Talent Management with a SaaS model.
The reality, though, is this – we’ve been hearing from our customers for 18 months that they want choice. They want to choose how they license our software (perpetual or subscription pricing), where they deploy it (on premise or via SaaS) and which applications in talent management they buy (and when). If you’d like to read more about our thoughts on this, look here.
So what about SaaS – we are delivering our Talent Management applications in this model, and have been doing so since the day we started selling the product. We will continue to offer that option to customers, and the market will decide. The best news? We know how to deliver our customers a choice, and can do it with the best Talent Management functionality in the business.
Kudos to Bill Kutik in his most recent column for (mostly) calling out what’s real about Oracle’s Fusion initiative – which is pretty much nothing, at least as far as HCM is concerned.
I’ve worked for software companies for nearly 25 years, and over the years I’ve built up some credibility and expertise when it comes to effectively communicating with people about a given set of strategies (some may call it “spin,” but I prefer “effective communication”). But one communication strategy I never (I repeat never) subscribed to is hard-core secrecy. What I know for certain about the ‘secrecy approach’ is this: you only keep things top secret when your messages will be received as controversial at least, or damaging, at worst. From my deliciously critical perch atop the HCM hill, I would offer some speculation as to why Oracle is being so secretive about Fusion:
- Oracle is suffering from a crisis of consensus internally, and no one can agree on what really should be done, resulting in the paralysis that could easily befall an organization made up of experts in HCM from three different and successful software companies. When Bill Kutik interviewed Oracle’s Gretchen Alarcon on his radio show (you can find the podcast here), she took the 5th on all of Bill’s softball questions about Fusion. Yawn.
- Oracle is months (if not years) behind schedule relative to the original Fusion communications. If you’ve religiously refused to talk about dates, you can always hedge your bets when you have delays. But there are a number of public statements that (at a minimum) led customers to believe that the first HCM products from Fusion would arrive in 2008. From everything observers can tell, this is not happening. Good news for guys like me!
- Oracle (like so many companies) is worried about the Sarbanes-Oxley patrol catching up with them. As a result, most companies tend to take extreme measures to avoid any implication of impropriety. I work for a publicly-traded software company, so I know the challenges Sarbanes-Oxley brings in terms of revenue recognition. In layman’s terms – if you talk too much about products that aren’t available, you have to ‘defer’ the revenue until the product is delivered, and it can have a near-term impact on reported revenues that Wall Street loves to hate. This is totally counterintuitive, but it could be a plausible explanation for why Oracle isn’t saying anything.
- Bill reported that Gartner said Oracle may be giving up on trying delivering that mother-of-all-migration-paths they’ve been touting for 3 years and are planning to focus on new customers as they launch Fusion for HCM. Knowing how complex the dynamics are in my customer base of 1,000-plus companies, this one seems feasible, if not likely. I wouldn’t want to be at the user group meeting where this one is announced!
So that’s my speculation on this. But realistically, Oracle doesn’t have to tell us anything – it’s a free world. And as far as I’m concerned, I hope they keep quiet. Their silence gives me time to mature our already-released products, develop deeper relationships with Oracle clients and reap the spoils when those Fusion upgrade projects are so expensive that VPs of HR run screaming for cover at the thought of a meeting with the CEO (or worse, board of directors) to ask for the big dollars that will inevitably needed to make Fusion work.
Silence can, as we all know, be golden.
I’ve been busy travelling to several customer sites to talk about new talent management projects. I am very encouraged by what I’m hearing, especially with respect to the way HR leaders are engaging in the process of creating the right kind of ‘bridge’ between process and technology to solve critical business problems.
As I wrote about in my recent post from the cruise ship, many of the companies that jumped into talent management early are now struggling to reap some of the long-term benefits of integration and the use of competencies in collecting data. But the last three meetings I’ve attended with VPs of HR (in the last three weeks, by the way), I’ve noticed consistency in the longer-term thinking that seems to be taking place. And some of these customers have point solutions installed — others are just getting started. But the story is the same — we have to look at the broad range of issues (with surprising focus on building a reusable competency infrastructure) FIRST — then look at business process, then technology. Now for some, that will require reworking that technology. For others, it’s a great opportunity to select a well integrated suite of products with an embedded competency framework (sorry, I couldn’t stop myself!).
The benefits of such an approach are broad and game-changing. Some, like John Ingham in a recent post suggest that the implications are dramatic and could be costing organizations billions. If it’s true, and companies can really master all elements of good talent management (people, process, AND technology), there should be competitive advantage for those that do.
And if my unscientific data is any indicator, perhaps there’s a trend. Time will tell, and I’ll be watching.
The second full day at CUE (this year it was Wednesday) is always about showcasing new products. And this year, it was an opportunity to introduce Strategic Human Capital Management (SHCM) to our customer base. Let me cut to the chase — for those of you that attended the mainstage demo Wednesday morning, it wasn’t without a glitch or two.
This is the second time I’ve done a live demo of SHCM in front of a large group. The first time (at HR tech), it was a pretty low key affair. Myself, my partner-in-crime (Anne Graham) and a single PC (ok, we had a second one with us in the event of a disaster) was the extent of our possy (with lots of moral support from our Lawson colleagues). Then we hoped against hope that the event organizers would make sure the projection equipment worked. It worked perfectly.
Cut to CUE, and it’s a production on the scale of a broadway musical. A director (!), an AV and backstage staff of at least 10, and handlers everywhere. So that should have ensured that there wouldn’t be any glitches. Right? Wrong.
It turns out that the network connection failed at some point during the presentation, before we went on stage for our portion of the demo. The information we’d received was that it was only one of the ports, but it was the one that Anne was going to use for her portion of the demo. So we were backstage frantically clipping slides into a powerpoint and then it dawned on me — buy the hotel wireless service (for the value price of $39.95 for four hours, by the way)! The other participant in the demo, Amy Ihlen was good — everyone said on her side of the stage, things were fine. Wrong.
So the demo gets started and things are rolling along well until I look to Amy and that moment of hesitation crossed her face and I knew we had a problem. But I said to myself, no big deal — Anne has powerpoints (and for split second congratulated myself for effective risk management)! Little did I know that in some way, shape, or form (I still haven’t heard what feels like a full explanation) the failure also impacted the stage crew’s ability to display content from the computers on the big screen. Go figure.
So in front of an audience of around 5000 I just say ‘please bring Anne’s PC to the monitor.’ (Remember: I had powerpoints!!) Nothing. From there, it’s all a blur. Add to this, by the way that just before going on stage I was told that we were 30 minutes behind schedule and that I had to hurry up. Just what I wanted to hear as I am about to unveil the work of dozens of people two years in the making.
It’s all good in the end — at least 50 people came up to me and said things like ‘customers loved it!’ and ‘it looked real’ (I loved that one) and ‘your message came through loud and clear.’ I must admit, though, the best comment came from Guenther Tolkmit (just minutes after the Barenaked Ladies finished a really great concert). He said (and I’m paraphrasing) that the way people remember things isn’t always what you expect. So the good news is that in the chaos, the most important messages will linger in their memory because of the imperfections in their presentation.
The irony of the whole thing was that a few weeks ago, Anne and I made the decision to do the demo on the server because we wanted to demonstrate the full workflow processes running in real-time with complete Outlook integration. We could have easily done that with only one PC, having Anne do all of the work herself on stage (ala HR tech). So we gambled, and well, probably won anyway.
It was more about things not going the way we planned than it was good vs. bad. I am told that when we showed the side-by-side talent profiles in Outlook the audience burst into spontaneous applause — but I have to admit I didn’t hear it. And in a few days, maybe I’ll watch the footage for myself. But for now, I’ll lick a wound or two and enjoy that fact that (with a few minor glitches) our customers now know what SHCM is all about and they seem to like what they’ve heard.
And by the way, I turned $15 into $70 at the Wheel of Fortune game just before I went to bed — that helped a bit too.