Kicking Off 2013 in the Hot Seat

What can you cover in 20 minutes on a radio show with a provocative host?  A lot, apparently.SoMoCloHy

I had the pleasure of joining Bill Kutik, well-known HR industry analyst and founding Co-Chair of the annual HR Technology Conference, on his biweekly program, the Bill Kutik Radio Show, sponsored by Knowledge Infusion. It was Bill’s 118th radio show to date, but his first show of 2013, marking the second time in a row that I’ve been honored to be Bill’s guest on his “New Year kickoff” episode.

For 20 minutes, and with no-holds-barred, Bill peppered me with questions spanning some of the hottest topics in HCM:  SaaS, Social, Mobile and Hybrid HCM.  A few of the questions we discussed – and at times, debated – were these:

  • Are social technologies delivering business value?  Have they found their place as ‘real tools’ or are we still just connecting and sharing?
  • Is SaaS winning because we’re doing less diligence? Are switching costs really less for SaaS vs. OnPremises solutions?
  • Is Hybrid HCM (the combination of OnPremises and SaaS deployments) part of the journey to the Cloud, or a destination in itself?  Why would you go that route?
  • Mobile – is there real enterprise value here, or is mobile really just for a few targeted processes such as time & labor?  Where is it making a difference?

Click here to listen to this highly interactive session.  For a full roster and links to Bill’s many other radio interviews, visit KI OnDemand.

Disclosure: neither Bill Kutik nor Knowledge Infusion are clients of mine or of Constellation Research, Inc., but I am not above buying them (or letting them buy me) a drink, coffee or other refreshment when our paths cross in exchange for great industry conversation and insights. 

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“Ok, Now You’ve Scared Me.”

CarnacA few weeks ago, I participated in a virtual panel focused on “The Future of Work”, providing my views into the changing landscape of work, not just as we enter 2013, but looking further out to 3, 5 or even 10 years from now. The discussion, sponsored by Cornerstone OnDemand, is available here for playback.

I began the session by sharing my view that the future of work, first and foremost, is already here. Organizations have long been affected by and responding to the dramatic changes coming from disruptive technologies, rapidly shifting worker demographics and dynamics, and new competitive pressures from an especially dynamic business climate. The challenges are real and taking place today. Looking to the future of work, one could sum up the anticipated impacts in a single word: More. More intensity. More pressure. More change. More risk. But also, more opportunity. More engagement. More transparency. More impact.

This “more” concept translates to a change in all aspects of work: namely, the Who, Where, When, What, How and even Why of work needs to be rethought:

  • The “who” of work: Who are your workers?  What generation do they represent? Are they employees or free agents? What is the composition of your workforce from a diversity perspective and how are practices in attracting, engaging, motivating, developing, measuring and rewarding the workforce evolving?
  • The “where” and “when” of work: Work takes place at the office, at home, on the go; in connected or disconnected modes from laptops, tablets, smartphones and desktops; face-to-face with our local colleagues or virtually across the globe; in shared coworking spaces where our cubicle neighbor may not even work for the same company. What systems are we using to ensure access to the people and information necessary to get work done? To drive engagement and crank up innovation?  In today’s business climate, are we fostering results from any place, at any time, from any device, or constraining people and results with a traditional mindset to work?
  • The “what” and “how” of work: The very nature of work is changing as the lines between employees, customers and suppliers blur and technology transforms work to more interaction-based engagements.  Big data insights and predictive analytics provide new views of influence and impact while social network analysis helps us understand the flow of knowledge in the enterprise and how work is getting done.  We’re just scratching the surface on better insights into the what and how of work in today’s social enterprise; what role will HR play in this new world of big data?
  • The “why” of work: Motivations differ by generation and by individual; they span pay and benefits, career advancement, skill development, recognition and increasingly,  social responsibility and altruism.  Are the rewards and recognition systems used in corporations today resonating with these very diverse workforce motivations? Do our company cultures sustain the drivers of the emerging workforce?

I riffed a bit on the sweeping changes required in business due to the above and received my favorite response of the hour from Cornerstone’s VP of Corporate Development and Strategy, Jason Corsello.  His comment?

Ok, now you’ve scared me.”

Jason is wicked smart. And he is anything but ‘scared’ about the future of work, as he and his colleagues work to guide Cornerstone’s strategy and disrupt the legacy market with cloud, social and mobile technologies. But his off-the-cuff comment was a good one, highlighting that despite all the advances we’ve made in processes and technology, there is still much more to do; more to plan for, to learn from, to capitalize on,  to embrace.

More.

Are you ready for the future of work?

Read a summary of the full panel discussion or listen to the event directly.  Be sure to catch the latest research on the Future of Work, Consumerization of IT and the New C-Suite, and other critical business themes at Constellation Research, Inc..

Disclosure: Cornerstone OnDemand is a client of Constellation Research, Inc.

Moving Payroll to the Cloud? Join the Crowd.

wordcloudIf you’re considering a move to the Cloud for your payroll technologies, you’re not alone.  In a recent survey by Constellation Research, Inc. partner Computer Economics, 40% of companies considering payroll technology investments reported such investments involved a move to the Cloud.

Why the mass migration?  In a recent webinar on the topic, I outlined six key benefits of Cloud-based Payroll.  In short, organizations moving their payroll to the cloud are doing so to reap the many benefits of SaaS while ensuring the core objectives of Payroll are met:

  1. Quality.  Innovations arrive faster and are adopted more rapidly in the Cloud than with traditional on-premises and hosted software.  With true, multi-tenant SaaS, clients are always on the latest release of the software, enabling organizations to move from periodic jumps to continuous innovation in user experience, workflows and capabilities. If you think this doesn’t matter to user experience, think again.  Organizations routinely report higher levels of  satisfaction with the usability of SaaS solutions over traditional offerings across all user roles (end users, managers and administrators).
  2. Cost optimization.  An immediate value to organizations – and a large factor behind the movement of technology buying from IT into the line of business – is how easily and quickly SaaS solutions can be deployed to solve immediate business needs.  SaaS solutions are implemented on average 82% faster than on-premises solutions and require only 22% of the resources in ongoing staff compared to on-premises shops, freeing up members of the payroll team to focus on more strategic initiatives. (Source: CedarCrestone 2012-13 HR Systems Survey, 15th ed.)
  3. Risk Mitigation. While many still cite security concerns as a top reason for keeping payroll technology in-house, the reality is that SaaS providers typically excel in security measures (including access controls, backup and recovery, and myriad other potential vulnerability points) due to the large volume of disparate clients continuously pushing their own systems audits and inquiries. SaaS Payroll providers also take on responsibility for ensuring all legal/regulatory changes are applied, tested and available.  With tens, hundreds or thousands of customers utilizing these services, it ensures many more eyeballs watching for and reporting any occasional “misses” from the provider and an accompanying rapid response to such issues.
  4. Control.  Managing payroll on premises does not guarantee that the payroll organization has the controls it desires over its technologies and processes. (If you’ve ever waited for your IT organization to apply an update or manage an enterprise upgrade, you know this all too well.)  Outsourcing payroll further reduces an organization’s span of control, especially with regard to timing of process flows and reporting/analytics. With SaaS, the payroll organization gets full control over process timing (data entry, audits, check runs, quality checks, adjustments, etc.); anytime access to data, analytics and reporting; and the assurance that the software is always at the latest release with the most recent changes in legs/regs applied and tested.
  5. Flexibility.  SaaS solutions, by design, support the dynamic nature of a business – the ability to rapidly scale hardware needs to support dramatic increases or decreases in resources are inherent to these solutions.  But flexibility in the payroll world also means the ability to quickly integrate to local payroll solutions across the globe, to respond to ever-changing time and pay regulations, and to meet the dynamic needs and priorities of the company.  SaaS-based payroll solutions leverage the emerging best-practices in cloud-based integrations, ensure the fastest time to readiness in response to changing regulations, and provide the foundation for business agility in global operations.
  6. Insight.  Multi-country payroll almost demands a SaaS solution, as it invariably requires integrations to local payroll providers in countries where a smaller number of employees reside or where major payroll providers have not yet standardized an offering.  Those myriad integrations frequently lead to delayed  visibility into the actual payroll costs across the globe, causing surprise ‘hits’ to financials. Just over 50% of global organizations today report having a global system of record, and hence are hampered by not having all the global data transparency necessary for timely, strategic decision making.  SaaS Payroll providers can rapidly integrate and manage a global view of the payroll activities of an organization, both minimizing financial risks while making available a broader base of data from which to glean additional insights.

Furthermore, when part of a broader global SaaS HRMS platform, SaaS Payroll moves from an administrative to a strategic play as it provides the ability for organizations of any size to dynamically scale operations and to securely plug into global capabilities, and thus engage and compete on a global scale.

Many other facets of SaaS Payroll are explored in this webinar, including a view into social enablement of payroll processes as well as how SaaS can future proof the career of today’s payroll leadership.

The question of SaaS for Payroll, or for any other HCM related initiative, has clearly moved from “Why” to “Why Not?”

Catch the webinar replay here:  The Changing Landscape of Payroll: Moving to the Cloud

Disclosure: this webinar was sponsored by Workday, a client of Constellation Research, Inc.

Breakaway Strategies: Looking Beyond HCM Vendors for HCM Technology

breakaway

In the run up to this year’s annual HR Technology Conference, I’ve been meeting with HCM technology vendors large and small. As expected, almost every vendor articulates an interest in, if not full vision for, social enablement of its offering. Some offer social capabilities today, some are expanding beyond initial forays in recruiting or learning, and others point to future directions with social based on customer demand. The path to social is also varied, coming through native development, partnership or even acquisition.

The Social HCM market is nascent, with vendors evolving their strategies and customers wrestling with questions ranging from business applicability to internal ownership of “social” in the enterprise (should these initiatives be driven and owned by IT, Legal, HR, Marketing, or…?)

Applying a different lens to the definition of Social HCM – one focused on employee enablement, engagement, and knowledge acceleration – brings another class of vendors into view: social business software providers. These vendors deliver on the foundations of social learning and social talent management, and have been doing so for years. They’re just not top of mind for HR when shopping for those solutions because they don’t typically market to an HCM audience with an HCM messages.

Consider players like Atlassian, Jive, NewsGator, Socialtext, Telligent, IBM and the many others that serve the social business software market. By their very nature of being social collaboration tools, they support many foundational processes such as social learning and social talent, with companies routinely reporting measurable benefits across employee and business performance. Yet for various reasons – including the fact that HR is not usually a driver for social technologies – you don’t see these players at the HR Technology Conference. But you should, as they routinely deliver on these and many other social use cases that are of direct interest to HR leadership:

  • Social Onboarding: establishing and assigning new hires to communities and groups; ability to follow people/content; system-driven recommendations on who to follow, groups to join, content to review.
  • Social Performance: informal and social feedback via activity streams; badges or other recognition feedback and social rewards; granting “skills” or “expertise” levels to others in the social network; improved engagement through gamification.
  • Social Goals: broadcasting activities and goals (including status and completion); soliciting feedback on goals and projects; granting badges or other recognition; task management for shared goals and objectives and identifying related work of others.
  • Social Learning: creating, posting, sharing, rating, tagging and following content; informal learning through micro blogging and activity streams, often with embedded and actionable content; expertise identification; ideation and crowd sourcing innovation across the enterprise.

Looking at the list of Exhibitors at the HR Tech Conference, I found only two pure-play social networking providers exhibiting this year: NewsGator1 and Yammer1. (I say only two, as Socialtext is now part of Talent Management provider Peoplefluent, and other solutions like Saba and SuccessFactors are already broader talent management providers with embedded platforms. In fact, even Yammer is now part of the broader Microsoft stack and can no longer be considered “pure play.”)

NewsGator in particular is an interesting addition to the list of exhibitors this year. If you’re not familiar with them, NewsGator has been delivering social business applications for many years through their Social Sites offering. They also integrate directly into Microsoft SharePoint – a solution in use by an estimated 75% of organizations.

Recently, NewsGator launched a new offering called NewsGator Enrich, which goes beyond the core use cases above and focuses on specific learning use cases to power informal, social learning across the enterprise. This latest offering includes a socially driven knowledge base for collaborative knowledge development and exchange, and interactive video learning capability for complex learning scenarios. A few of the core tenets of the Enrich Knowledge Base (KB) are described below.

  • Create knowledge base (KB) items in context of business workflows. Conversations in the activity stream, or specific question and answer      activities are readily tagged and saved to the knowledge base. A bookmarklet enables any web page to be referenced to the KB with a single click, and documents of any type are quickly added as well. Content can also be created directly within the knowledge base, turning any employee into a contributor to organizational know-how.
  • Quickly access the right knowledge. In addition to filtering KB content based on the most recent, most viewed or other categories, user-added metadata such as titles, tags and descriptions facilitate searching, discovery, and categorization of the knowledge base content.
  • Turn unstructured Q&A into a powerful resource. Answers can be accumulated, with the “accepted” answer identified for clarity and consistency.
  • Drive engagement with embedded gamification. Award badges and provide recognition to users based on their contributions and activities.

The HCM technology market is undergoing a significant shift. As we move from systems of transactions to systems of engagement, traditional “HCM” processes will be redefined, and it is only natural that new solution providers emerge from outside the HCM space. The move by NewsGator to deliver on highly targeted social learning use cases is the latest case-in-point, as well as a broader signal to the market that HCM technologies can come from non-HCM vendors.

While you’re checking out the many vendors at this year’s HR Technology Conference, I encourage you to stop by the booths of “non-traditional HCM” vendors as well. The door is open for social technology vendors to expand beyond their social collaborative networking foundations and deliver next-generation approaches to traditional learning, talent management and other “people” processes. I expect we’ll see more from NewsGator and others like them in the future, as “HR Technology” gives way to more business outcomes focused “Work Management Technology.”

1(Disclosure: NewsGator and Yammer are both clients of Constellation Research.)

The Path to Social Talent: What is Your Vendor’s Route?

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There is an interesting tug of war taking place in the world of social talent management software. Some players take the side that “social” should be a core competency of the talent platform, and hence delivered natively with that solution/suite. Others consider social a technology that should be plugged into talent and human capital management (HCM) solutions, and are developing various connectors to fit the different social tools. Yet still others are taking a hybrid approach – acquiring social technologies with a view toward deep and unique leverage of the social platform, while building plug-ins to additional social tools.

Different approaches will certainly yield different results. Integrating social to bring activity streams and social conversations into a talent process is a good first step, but even in today’s early adopter market the emerging buyers for social talent software are looking for greater benefits from their social investments. Building out (or acquiring and deeply integrating) a social platform to bring social collaboration into a suite of talent processes can be a game changer for organizations, but what if other social tools are already in use? Will the enterprise end up with too many tools, too much noise and ultimately face social fatigue?

Let the technology vendors duke out the “HOW” of “getting to social.”  Buyers should instead focus on the “WHAT”: what business value is generated from these newly social applications? Ultimately the vendor needs to demonstrate, and buyers will need to prove to their own organizations, that investments in social technologies yield results such as these:

  • Sustainable employee engagement, not just a short term increase from a passing fad;
  • Beyond connections and file sharing – although this is a good start – improvement in how work gets done (efficiency, quality, improved productivity, cost reductions, etc.);
  • Rapid access to knowledge and expertise wherever it resides across the enterprise;
  • Accelerated innovation;
  • Improved workforce connectedness for frictionless work;
  • Revenue creation;
  • Improved customer outcomes.

Look for my latest Quark entitled “Understanding the Paths to Social HCM: Evaluating Integrated vs. Embedded Social Technologies for HCM,” now available to all Constellation Research clients. I’ll also touch on this topic in my upcoming presentation at HR Technology Conference in Chicago, on Wednesday October 10, entitled “The Social Enterprise: New Tools Transform How Work Gets Done”.

Gifts in the Cloud: Salesforce and Amazon Deliver on Employee Rewards

sfdc amazon

Salesforce.com is rolling out its new Work.com platform this week at Dreamforce 2012  (#DF12) in San Francisco.  As discussed earlier this month, Workday features prominently as a critical partnership in the Work.com offering, although it was nowhere to be seen in the “Work.com” product area of the Salesforce Campground on Tuesday evening (“Day 1 at the Dreamforce Expo).

However, what was visible on Tuesday was the new rewards platform in Work.com, where employees and managers are able to earn and award not just badges and points but  now also gift cards as part of the fulfillment component of an employee rewards program.  Here at Dreamforce, Salesforce will be announcing their partnership with Amazon to enable gift cards as a new component of their rewards platform.

Tech-enabled social recognition and performance solutions are on the rise, incorporating peer-to-peer recognition delivered in a social environment integrated with a rewards platform that increasingly includes  gift cards and other merchandise.  The latest strategies take traditional recognition programs focused on event-driven milestones and pre-determined rewards and merchandise levels and transform them into a real-time, contextual social and performance-based solution that taps into the unique motivators of individuals.

In a market that is estimated in size at 2% of company payroll, it is not surprising that Salesforce is expanding its social performance platform to play where companies like Achievers, Globoforce, O.C. Tanner, Rideau and many others have already staked their claim.  Utilizing a cloud provider like Amazon is a natural step for Salesforce, and I expect many similarly situated partners will be brought together into a comprehensive rewards network where companies can plug into and tailor solutions for the unique needs of their organizations and individual employees.

Oracle Unveils New Social Relationship Management (SRM) Platform

 

Today Oracle announced its new Social Relationship Management (SRM) Platform, an integrated software platform that helps organizations listen, engage, market and monitor their social interactions with all of its constituents across the enterprise (prospects, customers, influencers, partners, candidates and employees.)  

Oracle has been engaged in social-enabled business for a while, delivering Oracle Social Network and bringing social collaboration into processes like Fusion HCM via Fusion Network at Work.  Today’s announcement takes Oracle well beyond social conversations into a comprehensive platform play.  It is leveraging several of its acquisitions from earlier this year (Vitrue, Collective Intellect and Involver) to round out its initial offering in the SRM suite, but the vision for the SRM platform spans the many diverse business processes of the enterprise.

Today, the Oracle SRM suite is comprised of the following:

image

The two newest additions to the suite are:

Social Engagement and Monitoring, comprised of Oracle’s recent acquisitions of Collective Intellect and Involver, provide a best of breed solution aimed at listening to and engaging in customer in conversations.

Social Marketing, coming from the Vitrue acquisition, marries social channels, content and data with traditional CRM systems to make better decisions around social customer engagement and marketing initiatives. 

Beyond Social CRM – Oracle SRM aims for a holistic view of the individual (employees included)

During the launch, Oracle explained its philosophy of  “building the lifetime customer experience”.  That experience includes concepts such as combining the social understanding of an individual (as a social networker) with the enterprise understanding of that individual (as a customer) to deliver better insights and predictions – for example, not just measuring a customer’s value based on the revenue they bring into the organization, but also on the influence that customer has on revenue through social media.

Oracle envisions extending this holistic insight to the workforce as well. 

Within talent acquisition,  the new SRM platform will enrich the Taleo recruiting offering to bring monitoring, engagement and even social marketing together with Taleo to bolster talent acquisition and retention endeavors. By helping organizations leverage their internal and external social tools to create seamless environments, Oracle looks to help companies turn their employees into  “brand ambassadors” (where they are positively engaged and communicative through social channels to promote the company as a good place to work and/or to do business with). 

Beyond recruiting, the profile of the individual – their combined employee profile as well as social profiles – will be leveraged for greater insight and decision support across the enterprise.  I believe this holistic employee view is at least 12-18 months away from reality (with Oracle focusing most of its initial efforts on the ‘lifetime customer’ side), but I am nonetheless encouraged to hear Oracle presenting this future vision.

My POV:

The social landscape is highly fragmented, with hundreds of technology vendors servicing the many different aspects of social relationship management. While this fragmentation is providing innovation on all fronts, it is also resulting in a fragmented relationship and incomplete insights with customers, partners, and employees. Oracle’s SRM platform, through acquisition and native development, looks to unify that experience and provide a complete platform for end to end support for any enterprise relationship. With more than 380K clients across the world, and with the market for social technologies growing at close to 60%, the opportunity for Oracle is substantial.

Oracle speaks of close to 1000 clients on its new SRM platform, but almost all of these clients come from the recent Vitrue, Collective Intellect and Involver solutions.  Yet the platform presents  a good vision for supporting social-enabled business: one fueled by the opportunities externally and internally to drive new insights and results through effective application of emerging disruptive technologies. 

The technologies used to address people processes – or HCM considerations – are increasingly coming from non-traditional HCM vendors.  A CRM leader, Salesforce.com, is suddenly messaging and delivering in the area of employee engagement and performance.  Social task and project management tools are encroaching upon performance and goal management solution providers.  Even pure enterprise social networking technologies deliver on the fundamentals of social learning and knowledge management.  HR and HR technology leaders will find their areas influenced by these and other emerging tools; staying abreast of the advances in areas like CRM will help these HR leaders envision and plan for their new futures of work.

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