From the Classroom to Boardroom… Tracing the Evolution of a Talent Mangement System!!

tms maturity...v imp to define problem

Globalization has changed us into a company that searches the world, not just to sell or to source, but to find intellectual capital – the world`s best talents and greatest ideas.– Jack Welch

In the boardroom bunkers and in the cubicle-filled trenches, the early skirmishes of the next war are being fought. But unlike a conventional war, this war doesn’t need truckloads of arms and ammunition, …it’s a war that truly is of a different kind…a war where most of the action is guerrilla warfare  to poach the best and the brightest minds for their skill sets, knowledge, capabilities and unique talents…Some call it ‘Old wine in a new bottle’…”A fight for Survival’ while some call it ‘War for Talent’…or a ‘Global Business Pandemic which is changing the rules of the game’..Whatever the name you choose to give….it is classroom theoretical concept that now has become the business imperative discussed and debated by every Senior Leader.

This blog is my personal narrative and a short story of a rather long and arduous journey of implementing Talent Management process. Like many in the field of Talent Management, we at Group Human Resources were dumbfounded with the challenge of finding our ‘A’ Listers in a complex web of 110 companies in 16 different sectors spread across 23 geographies of the world. With the origins of Talent Management initiatives during the turn of the 21st century, today this process has the potential  to alter the dynamics of the way we do our manufacturing business around the world.

Step1-Institutionilizng Core Talent Management process and Manual Record Keeping : After conducting multiple awareness sessions with our Senior Leaders to garner their support for this initiative, we designed our Core Talent Management processes with a tactical focus of recordkeeping.

Step2: Automating most Talent Management processes with PeopleSoft HCM: As the initiative gained momentum and a higher buy-in from Senior Leaders, here was our chance to climb another level on the Talent Management Maturity ladder by establishing a system of record – PeopleSoft HCM, automating the Assessment Centre Report process by our 3rd party Assessment Centre vendors, specifying the possible career trajectories for our ‘A’ listers – or top performers and capturing their Individual Development plans that were actioned upon and monitored regularly. PeopleSoft HCM gave us the perfect platform for automating, collecting and mining this rich source of data required to bolster the Talent Management process.

Step 3: Integrating a Talent Management system with the HCM system: With the career and succession planning data automated and easily retrievable, we embarked upon a mammoth task of designing the critical management dashboards within Hyperion BI for all our Senior Managers. Our dashboards gave a snapshot of the Leadership Pipeline, the status cum success of our Talent Management processes,  key information about our High Performers including attrition analytics etc required for better decision making on managing talent better.

While many organizations like mine are currently on Step 3, they are all striving for a unified system of talent management which would extract data from their Financial systems, Manufacturing and Business software as well as their Payroll and Accounting solutions to help managers make holistic decisions on talent management. After all, the key differentiator in a world of product, service, marketing and information commoditization is ‘Talent’ and managing it only makes business sense 🙂

References: Future of Talent Management |Taleo Research Study.

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The Good, Bad and the Ugly of Taleo Business Solutions!!

Talent Drives Performance - Taleo Talent Management

Phew !! that’s an impressive list of credentials for a Company that was founded in 1996..almost a decade after Dave Duffield founded PeopleSoft – one of the best in breed ERPs in the market today. I had heard about Taleo’s Recruiting Solution about 4 yrs ago when my previous employer was scouting for the best Recruiting solution after being a wee bit uncomfortable with PeopleSoft’s Recruiting solution.  Without a doubt, Taleo’s impressive User Interface and advance talent acquisition functionality stood out from the crowd. Having a bias towards peopleSoft, I must confess I didn’t give it much of a thought until I was given a demo of the system by Josh during my class at UC Berkeley and I was mesmerized once again with the impeccable UI and ease of configuration that this system gives to its users….So without a further adieu let me rummage through all the literature available and collect my thoughts to present a rather interesting take on …the good, bad and ugly of Taleo’s  Talent Management Solution.

So What makes Taleo Talent Management worth a mention?

1. Affordability: It’s simple with no initial capital expenditure. Like most of its contemporaries in the SaaS and Cloud Computing domain, users pay a monthly fee of $99-140$ per month. There is no software or hardware to buy which is normally a deterrent in these trying times.

2. Availability and Pure Web Architecture:  Accessible 24/7 from anywhere anytime as long as there is an Internet connection.

3. Usability: This is one area wherein I found Taleo providing the greatest advantage to its users mainly the candidates through its simple and intuitive User Interfaces . With the sudden rise of social networking sites like Twitter and Linked In used by candidates for job application purposes, Taleo has a built in integration with both these websites. Hence it facilitates an instant chat with a member of the Co’s recruiting team as well as allows a prospective applicant to find additional information through contacts on professional/ social networking sites like Linked In.

4. Integration to Microsoft Outlook: Coming from a PeopleSoft eRecruitment background, this was another fascinating feature provided by Taleo. All interview schedules can be entered in Microsoft Outlook which can further remind an interviewer about the interview scheduled for the day without having to login to the system and checking an equally complicated interview schedule calendar.

5. Configurable Workflow Mails: I still recall the nightmare I had to undergo while configuring the workflows in eRecruitment as the business processes were so individualized to certain sections of the user audience. Taleo allows us as Functional Consultants to configure individualized workflows. Hence we could better adapt the system to our real life business scenarios.

A very refined Advance Search Functionality: In PeopleSoft eRecruit, there was an inherent bug in the Verity Index which allows us to use the advanced search functionality. PeopleSoft n its vanilla avatar also restricted its users on a very limited fixed set of parameters to search a large and complex resume database. I still recall the times wherein my power users wanted resume searches to be based on uploaded CVs, testimonials, PDF resumes and HTML docs which wasn’t possible in the system. In one of the demo sessions, Josh demonstrated how Taleo allowed its candidates to upload not only .txt files but also .Doc, .PDF, .HTML files which seemed so practical in today’s time.

7. Ad-hoc Reporting: Even today, if I could lay my hands on a disgruntled user, it would be my Head of Group wide Recruitment as she wanted the flexibility to drag and drop fields used for her MIS and reporting which could never be standardized in a crystal / SQR report. The ease and flexibility which this feature brings definitely makes one of the reasons for a compelling business case for Taleo ATS.

The other side of the coin…the flip side of Taleo:

I do realise that demos or sales pitches by pre-sales teams are expected to invoke an -Ahhhaa effect on the audience so while I cannot discount the apparent advancements of the Taleo system, I cannot assume a perfect system devoid of any ugly truths.

1. Integration through Open APIs : While I may not be an IT professional to enumerate the complexities involved in integrating the Taleo Recruiting system with the Co’s System of Record by using the functionality of Open API, as a novice on this subject I can state with some degree of certainty that the path to integration of the 2 systems provided by different vendors, having no commonality in system architecture and database structure would not be for the faint hearted. Integration plays an important role when you have hired the candidate through Taleo’s ATS and now the record needs to be passed in the System of Record (employee database). Most integration using Open APIs are through non real time cumbersome batch processes which further results in time lag for data entry between the 2 systems.

2. Taleo is known for its ATS not Talent Management: If we were to trace the early beginnings of Taleo as a product and focus on its impressive list of Fortune 100 clients, you would see a trend towards Taleo’s forte being its advanced ATS. From a predominantly ATS product to a Talent Management application comprising of Performance Management, Career & Succession Planning modules, there is no comprehensive evidence of the business benefits of Co’s using these modules or to corroborate if these processes are mature and incorporate industry best practices.

3. Data Security – Although I am told that there is a detailed comprehensive encryption methodology of securing data, there is still an element of fear in my mind for fear of cyber pilferage or confidential Talent Ratings falling into the hands of cyber miscreants.

4.  Customer Support/ Helpdesk Assistance – Resorting to my past experience of working on PeopleSoft, I always knew that there was a very robust 24/7 Support infrastructure for its customers with predefined escalation clauses and SLAs which I used extensively during the nascent stages of project roll out and implementation. It may seem questionable to assume a similar support infrastructure that Taleo would provide to its customers in very remote corners of the world, akin to that provided by the Application Bigwigs like Oracle, SAP or PeopleSoft.

Whether Taleo’s Talent Management Suite can rival that of the larger Best in Breed Application systems like PeopleSoft, Oracle, SAP etc .. only time can tell. However, its without a doubt a competitor which only a fool would choose to ignore….So lets  wait and watch this race for some more tech trivia!!

Womenomics – A business case for women !!!

“Did You Know -???

Women represent 60% of university graduates in Europe and North America.

Women make 80% of consumer goods purchasing decisions in the US ??

Companies with more women in leadership have a 35% higher return on equity

—Can companies afford to ignore this new, 21st century reality?”

‘Womenomics’ is the new buzz word is corporate circles today all over North America if a recent survey done by the CEO of ‘Waking Up to Womenomics – Avivah Wittenberg- Cox is concerned. In fact, ‘The Economist’ make a fantastic statement that we should forget harping on the astronomical growth of emerging markets like India, China and ofcourse, the Internet. It states that in today’s society economic growth is driven by women.

To second that point, Georges Desvaux, Sandrine Devillard-Hoellinger, and Mary C. Meaney of McKinsey Quarterly in their September 2008 issue stated that the male-female gender gap isn’t just an image or Corporate Branding problem…it can have real tangible implications for the company’s performance. In their words, today there is a strong business case for women and I couldn’t agree more with this argument.

Women here within the Corporate Circles of North America and other developed countries have made significant strides in carving a niche for themselves in recent times.

Working as an HR professional, I am aware that there are companies who have moved successfully to increase the hiring, retention, and promotion of female executives. One such company that is applauded for its phenomenal work in retaining & motivating female employees is the global consulting behemoth – Deloitte. The consulting behemoth admirably came to terms with its need to provide a more equitable culture for the career advancement of women nearly 10 years ago, and this decision and this commitment has produced numerous benefits for its female professionals. Deloitte has been applauded for their HR policies that aren’t inadvertently biased against women or part-time workers  rather encourage them by initiating mentoring and networking forums, to establish (and consistently monitor at a senior level) targets for diversity, and to find ways of creating a better work–life balance for their workforce. Changes like these have a price, but there are business advantages to making them – today, 14 percent of Deloitte’s partners and directors are women, the highest percentage among the Big Five Consulting firms.

Apart from Deloitte, there are other companies like Ernst & Young, GE, Goldman Sachs, Time Warner who have been accredited across professional circles as a key attractor for this valuable segment of the talent pool. While they all have some form of telecommuting, flexi-time, and job sharing that attracts skill women to the workforce, what sets them apart from their contemporaries is the fact that they all believe in the fact that women can give them the competitive edge.

However, there is a darker side to this story. On one hand there are companies like Deloitte, GE, Ernst & Young who are doing some phenomenal work in this area, research done by Columbia University in collaboration with the University of Maryland indicates that in the United States, less than a third of the leading 1,500 companies had even a single woman among their top executives in 2006.  In fact, if we were to look closely at the senior management in higher echelons of most Companies in Corporate America, the percentage of women is abysmal.

While this seems unpalatable to most of us women and more importantly HR practitioners, it would be folly to ignore this truth completely. Hence the next question seems appropriate.

Why do women matter in the workforce or what is he business case for attracting and retaining women ?

While the term ‘ War for Talent’ sounds like a cliche, there is an acute shortage of skills and knowledge which would only worsen  with time.The need of the hour is more talent to enter the workforce to fill the shortages.

According to McKinsey research, in the United States, the upcoming retirement of the baby boomers will probably mean that companies are going to lose large numbers of senior-level employees in a short period of time; nearly one-fifth of the working-age population (16 and older) of the United States will be at least 65 by 2016.  As HR, we are always saddled with the glaring mismatches between training and employment. This gap between employees joining and being fully trained to optimally do their job can attribute to the shortages. Today even as we speak, we are aware that male-dominated sectors with a dearth of workers include engineering and IT —yet 70 percent of women with science, engineering, or technology qualifications are not working in these fields.

Apart from filling up this talent, a healthy gender diversity ratio would improve productivity as a result of improved employee motivation and efficiency while attracting top talent in the industry. McKinsey Research shows that companies with three or more women on their senior-management teams scored higher on all nine organizational criteria than did companies with no senior-level women.

Attracting & retaining women in the workplace is by no means for the faint-hearted as it is fraught with its share of challenges and difficulties. However, as illustrated in this blog post, most companies reap tangible benefits for instance; a larger talent pool and stronger financial performance—which suggests that making gender diversity a significant business goal is well worth the investment of both time, effort and money.

References:

1. Georges Desvaux, Sandrine Devillard-Hoellinger, and Mary C. Meaney – Business case for Women. The McKinsey Quarterly, September 2008.

2. Cristian L. Deszõ and David Gaddis Ross, “‘Girl Power’: Female participation in top management and firm performance,” working paper, December 2007.

3. Avivah Wittenberg-Cox and Alison Maitland, Why Women Mean Business: Understanding the Emergence of Our Next Economic Revolution, Chichester, England: John Wiley & Sons, 2008

The Tech Debate (Part 2)- Opting for ERP’s Superior Integration Opportunities v/s SaaS’s Open APIs.

benefits of erp -scope of poornataAlthough the need for talent management is critical, many organizations flounder when it comes to effectively leveraging a state-of-the-art technology solution. The primary difficulty lies in sharply diminished business benefits when organizations fail to take advantage of talent solutions that integrate fully with the core human resources (HR) system of record and with each other. As a result, organizations often miss a decided competitive advantage when it comes to areas such as user adoption, the optimal use of technology and employee development, which is so critical in the talent shortage. Often this failure stems from poor strategic planning and—as statistics show—selecting niche or silo-ed solutions a-la-carte.
An integrated approach is ideal for the forward-thinking organization expanding its talent management scope or for an organization exploring talent management for the first time. Real-time integration that optimizes all aspects of talent management can best be achieved with a solution from the same vendor that provides the core HR system.
“It’s helping us ensure that our performance management is more organized and more effective. It’s giving us better quality and better control of our HR processes. That’s particularly important in a large and fast-growing global organization—to be able to keep track of your people wherever they might be.”
—JoAnn Moeller VP of HR, Compensation, Benefits and HR Information Management, Office Depot
Today’s changing business landscape demands that HR aligns its processes, practices and strategies with business objectives. This demand can only be met by a comprehensive solution that effectively manages an organization’s talent and the entire Human Capital Management (HCM) lifecycle together. An integrated talent management framework from Oracle delivers this success via a holistic view of talent. Oracle’s single, modular, enterprise-wide system supported by a single data source provides consistent data and business processes and a uniform look and feel that together establish the foundation for insightful decision-making and profitability.
INTRODUCTION“It’s helping us ensure that our performance management is more organized and more effective. It’s giving us better quality and better control of our HR processes. That’s particularly important in a large and fast-growing global organization—to be able to keep track of your people wherever they might be.”

benefits of erp -scope of poornata

“It’s helping us ensure that our talent management is more organized and more effective. It’s giving us better quality and better control of our HR processes. That’s particularly important in a large and fast-growing global organization—to be able to keep track of your people wherever they might be.”

—JoAnn Moeller VP of HR, Compensation,Benefits and HR Information Management, Office Depot

Although the need for talent management is critical, many organizations flounder when it comes to effectively leveraging a state-of-the-art technology solution. The primary difficulty lies in sharply diminished business benefits when organizations fail to take advantage of talent solutions that integrate fully with the core human resources (HR) system of record and with each other. As a result, organizations often miss a decided competitive advantage when it comes to areas such as user adoption, the optimal use of technology and employee development, which is so critical in the talent shortage. Often this failure stems from poor strategic planning and—as statistics show—selecting niche or silo-ed solutions a-la-carte.

An integrated talent management framework can be defined as a secure, single-platform, workflow-driven system that leverages a single data model and is inclusive of the core HR system of record and all talent processes. Integrated talent management—because it is by nature integrated—equips organizations with a broad range of functional and decision-making capabilities for strategically handling today’s and tomorrow’s business issues within a consistent, end-to-end framework. The system empowers the organization with insight, agility, efficiency and consistency in talent management.

Today’s changing business landscape demands that HR aligns its processes, practices and strategies with business objectives. This demand can only be met by a comprehensive solution that effectively manages an organization’s talent and the entire Human Capital Management (HCM) lifecycle together. An integrated talent management framework provided by any Best in Class ERP vendor delivers this success via a holistic view of talent. It’s single, modular, enterprise-wide system supported by a single data source provides consistent data and business processes and a uniform look and feel that together establish the foundation for insightful decision-making and profitability.

Challenges integrating other Niche SaaS based Talent Management software and Your System of Record (HCM) Application

Having come from a HR cum technology background in a fairly large global conglomerate setting, I believe niche vendors’ products like Avature, EmpTracK, Successfactors might offer shorter implementations and dazzling user interfaces (UIs). However, their offerings introduce functional and technical issues that can keep HR from managing talent efficiently and making informed decisions as a strategic business partner. In my previous company, we had several niche products for various Talent Management processes however when Group HR needed to do any HR analytics required for the Borad of Directors, it was a herculeon task to gte the data and analytics from each of these niche products since they lacked integration. Also this the base foundation tables were specific to the niche systems, problematic symptoms emerged like the failure to find answers to strategic questions around the complete suite of Talent management processes, diluted business benefits due to short-term fixes, unforeseen costs caused by complex integrations and batch processes often connected to technology difficulties and other red flags.

The second important argument in favour of the integrated talent Management solutions is that multiple solutions from multiple vendors result in multiple competency models and foundation basics with each differing from the one in core HR—thus causing a heterogeneous collection of applications with vast duplication of effort. With PeopleSoft being implemented, one of the greatest benefits was that when the ePerformance module highlighted an area of concern or a development need, the need integrated seamlessly with its learning, career development and succession planning modules as a by-product of integration between the modules through its in-built Integration Broker.

Finally, in the words of Douglas A. Ready and Jay A. Conger, “To meet the challenge, companies must rethink how they hire, train and reward their employees, placing those tasks at the heart of their business plans. In doing so, they have an opportunity to address all these separate problems with a unified plan, rather than waste time and resources attacking each of the issues individually.”

References:

1.Integrated Talent Management: Extending the Value of a Strategic Framework |An Oracle White Paper, March 2008.

2.  Douglas A. Ready and Jay A. Conger. “How to Fill the Talent Gap.” The Wall Street Journal, September 15, 2007. [online.wsj.com/public/article_print/SB118841695428712511.html], para 2.

Tech Debate (Part 1) – Voilla !!! Business Case for Web 2.0 and SaaS Software.

web2inenterprise_latestWhen the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills.

– Chinese proverb

The world of ‘Talent Management’ is changing at a bewildering pace. Everywhere new conceptual models are being developed, new talent management software is being released, new Talent Management strategies are devised and a new highly skilled workforce is marching into our organizations…thereby challenging our conventional wisdom in many ways than one. We are in the midst of a new wave of talent management where talent and brainpower are becoming the predominant currency. ..ofcourse leveraged by the new Web 2.0 and SaaS technology.

So, the next obvious question that will strike any intelligent mind is how does the application of Web 2.0 and SaaS translate to better Talent Management in organizations of the future?

In the past couple of works, I have been reading and watching demos of various Talent Management application suites using Web 2.0 and SaaS software as a part of my course at UC Berkeley – HR systems and technology. Having come from a prior PeopleSoft HCM and Hyperion implementation experience, I must confess I was biased towards ERPs and discounted what various gurus spoke about Web 2.0 and SaaS software. However, this blog is a starting point of new revelation that Web 2.0 and SaaS may herald a new future of Enterprise Software and below mentioned are some points that I was intrigued by.

a. Knowledge Transfer and Best Practice Sharing: How many of us in HR use Twitter, Blog sites or wikis to understand the latest HR policies or process as implemented in HR. Today as a part of my project assignment I use Twitter, Linked In and Blog sites to connect to millions of people, mentors and product managers to gain knowledge about my project assignment. It’s like business consultancy for free. Apart from social networking sites, most SaaS applications are built on global HR practices which are easy to deploy and configure to the organization’s needs.

b. Facilitates in-depth knowledge of our employees:  Although I worked in the niche area of identifying the company’s future leaders, I would seldom have in depth information about their interest, skill sets, aspirations and project assignments the way most Social Networking sites would detail. As I started using the social networking sites more often, I realize that there is a vast repertoire of information that most people in HR would long to get their hands on but their ERP systems limit their search.

c. To develop an internal communication tool for your company:  Having worked extensively on PeopleSoft and its Portal application, I have always longed for simplicity and ease to connect the Company’s Senior Leadership with the voice of its employees. While I’d say PeopleSoft did allow us to do it…company blogs are a perfect way to communicate your voice to employees and vice versa. I’ve seen CISCO systems do that effectively.

4.Expand your reach to candidates:  A no. of recruiters have their pages uploaded on Facebook and other well known Recruiting sites e.g. www.recruitingblogs.com wherein jobs and vacancies are posted and candidates are sourced. This is especially being used for campus recruitment to some of the premier B-Schools.

5. Affordability:  Most SaaS application suites unlike their predecessors – The ERPs are highly affordable and do not require an additional paraphernalia of IT infrastructure. I still recall my PeopleSoft implementation days where days and weeks were devoted to costly Hardware and Software installations by equally costly hardware and software experts. Even the total project time for a global implementation of our magnitude was 180 days which would also add to the project deployment cost. Most SaaS application suites are ready to use (if you are not looking for customization) & can be commissioned immediately.

6. Available Anywhere Anytime:  All SaaS applications is available to any user who has access to Internet hence its accessible 24/7 – 365 days of the year. This enables employees to access the software from their main office, from home or any place they are traveling to.

7. Constant Updates and No IT problems:  This is a rather interesting feature for which most people like me with ERP implementation experience would heave a sign of relief. Every time a new upgrade or a release patch is required to be installed, its like living a nightmare !! However unlike ERPs, SaaS applications are updated with new features regularly and Software bugs are fixed in real time by the vendors. So its time to say goodbye to all IT problems that we as implementers are confronted with on an ongoing basis.  SaaS vendors have their own maintenance and support Department which look after the day to day maintenance and bug fixing.

8. Customization Available: Recently I attended a webinar on Configuration vs Customization by one Talent Management application vendor – Workday. It was fascinating how most backend customization that would be required to tweak a system business workflow to an organizational TO BE process can be avoided by allowing most users to configure systems to their needs. This was perhaps one of the greatest boon that a SaaS and Web 2.0 enabled application would allow vis a vis other reputed ERPs.

While this blog is only the beginning of an end project deliverable on which Talent Management ERP best serves the needs of an increasingly global and fiercely competitive organization with an insatiable appetitive for mergers and acquisitions. This blog signals our story that is yet to unravel on how Talent Management enabled through a Web 2.0 and SaaS platform has the potential to change our ways of working in HR beyond recognition.

References: Web 2.0 and SaaS factor by Gireesh Kumar Sharma, Saigun Technologies.

Twitteriffic: …Of 140 character and more. A tweet at a time !!!

Twittereffic !!!! Twittering away with Twitter.

Welcome to Twitterville – The world just got smaller (again) !!!

Welcome to a quaint world I call ‘Twitterville’ – a world that consists of the bazillion people who tweet and share information ..140 characters at a time. I can’t say that if Gautama Buddha lived in our times today he would be using twitter but I can certainly say with some degree of confidence that HE certainly would be amazed by the social revolution called ‘Twitter Mania’.

I fact when I tell my colleagues and managers that I tweet and blog as a part of my course at UC Berkeley, they usually respond in one of two ways. While some sing peons of the social media revolution we are currently experiencing …the others display emotions of bewilderment, shock and fear of all things world-wide-webish..Twitter included.

I agree with Steven Johnson (TIME magazine article – How Twitter Will Change the Way We Live) that Twitter makes a terrible first impression. However if you overlook its gawky first impression, you would be amazed at the simplicity with which it facilitates its millions of users to send 140 character updates to their followers at real time. As millions of twitterattis have discovered, Twitter turns out to have unsuspected depth. Apart from finding status updates of your followers about some very mundane things strangely satisfying , Twitter has managed to do things things that its creators never dreamed of. What seems most astounding is the fact that Twitter isn’t about what it offers us ..rather it’s about what we, the twitteratti are doing to it!!

Look around you at the recent set of events..be it Michael Jackson’s sudden death or the political debacle in Iran. They are tweets that litterally shook the world. The site undoubtedly played a vital role in spreading the story from inside Iran to the outside world, as thousands of web users and mobile phone addicts passed on messages and pictures documenting events as and when they took place.

As Bobby Johnson of the Gaurdian UK stated, it is easy to overestimate Twitter’s value inside Iran, where word of mouth, phone calls and text messages were almost certainly more important in helping to organize rallies. However, it was Twitter’s that was responsible for making this story global and very real through its continuous status updates by its users.

Strange but true, in a few years from now, when historians reflect on the time we are currently living in, the names Biz Stone and Evan Williams (the co-creators of Twitter) will be referenced side by side with the likes of Samuel Morse, Alexander Graham Bell, Guglielmo Marconi, Philo Farnsworth, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

The truth is that the creation of Twitter and its impending revolution  into a social networking behemoth akin to Facebook is as significant and paradigm-shifting as the invention of Morse code, the telephone, radio, television or the personal computer.

In a ocean of Web 2.0 technologies, Twitter has indeed made the world a smaller place (again). It’s  not just another triumph of web 2.0 that has revolutionalized the way we live nor is it just a technological prowess. Rather, I’d like to use it as a metaphor for ‘A social revolution spelt in 140 characters’.

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Twitter: The tweet that shook the world

Tech Debate (Part3) – The Cloud, Web & Enterprise Talent Management Software

cloud computing

This blog is a dedication to a never-ending debate in my mind that had continued to intrigue me since the beginning of my class here at UC Berkeley about 3 months ago. This curiosity of mine with an insatiable quest for finding an answer has led me to devote much time and attention to this debate for which the answers still allude me. To some it may be just another IT debate but to me, it seems to be a new found reality of the future of enterprise software.

To kick-start our Tech Debate Part 3, a fresh new study done by Gartner gives a technological twist to the debate. What fascinated me most about this study was that it delved into the intricacies of the technical aspects of Cloud Computing to put forth its pros and cos and used very simple examples of Google, Amazon and Salesforce.com to drive home the point. Interestingly, this is not a sole dedication to sing paeans of SaaS or Cloud Computing even though it does enumerate the aspects of ease of configuration of these systems to the customer’s need, greater affordability and smaller deployment time frames. The Gartner study equally emphasizes on some of the disruptive aspects and difficulties revolving around issues with security of data, integration of niche products, scalability and global support requirements.

To serve as an anchor for this debate and resolve it, let’s use the power of imagination to conjure up this scenario of a large diversified conglomerate:

…with a global workforce of 50000 employees,

…an insatiable appetite for Mergers and Acquisitions,

…with relatively immature processes for HR delivery (often in an offline paper-pencil format).

What would be the best technological platform for this company to Automate, Centralized, Integrated, Standardize, Adopt World Class HR Best Practices and and Processes across 110 of its subsidiaries… A SaaS based solution or a Conventional ERP??

Pros and Cons of each of these systems has only left me with more unanswered questions and greater thoughts to ponder upon..which seem to increase with greater research and time. However,the solution lies at crux of some of these unanswered questions…so its critical to surface these as a conversation starter and ask the experts on the world wide web to deliberate and discuss these to find a probable solution.

Q1) ….Should the company compromise on dazzling User Interfaces, Easy Configurability and Affordability over Superior forms of Integration within modules of an HCM application suite and Security of their critical Non Publicized Data???

Q2)  ….Most SaaS and Cloud Computing vendors furnish an impressive list of Fortune 100 clients using their niche products and decry the complexities that a conventional ERP confers on its users and implementers alike. However most IT departments in Large Global Companies with a workforce of 10000 upwards choose Conventional ERPs…Why???

Q3)… Is it about the mentality of Users who believe that a conventional Enterprise Solution protected by their own firewalls is more secure as compared to those over the internet???

Q4) …. Most SaaS and Cloud Computing Software dominate the small and medium scale market…are Large Companies adopting a Wait n Watch policy before they implement these systems.

To the experts out there, any thoughts??? Express your opinion through a short Interactive Poll which would take nothing more than 2 seconds for you..but would give me an insight on the collective thoughts of a much wider audience.

References: Gartner Event Presentation by Anthony Bradley: SOA, the Web and the Cloud: Big Decisions About Application Architecture

Trends that would change Business Technology in 2009

5 trends that will shape business technology

Source: McKinsey Quarterly : Five trends that would change Business Technology in 2009 : Spring 2009.

The ‘People’ problem in Talent Management

McKinsey

“The War for Talent never ended …it has just begun in ways we cannot imagine or comprehend.”

Increasingly, companies view the ability to manage talent effectively as a strategic priority. Yet my academic research leads me to conclude that senior executives  in most Fortune 500 Companies across the globe, largely blame themselves and their business line managers for failing to give this issue enough time and attention. I strongly believe that Talent Management is the key to weathering this raging storm of ‘Global Recession’. There is a need to transform this corporate rhetoric into an organizational reality where all executives need to rethink new innovative ways to attract, retain and motivate their people.

Having worked in the niche area of Talent Management and more specifically Talent Identification and Development, I find it a mockery of sorts when most Senior Managers quote their employees as their most important asset. Yet, my experiences with many of them state that most of them are bewildered with the challenges that this niche area confronts them with. Also the widespread belief that expensive efforts to address this key issue have failed largely compounds the frustrations of Senior Leaders. As a part of my project assignment for the Berkeley HR systems and technology course, I decided to delve deep into this widely spoken corporate rhetoric by leveraging the power of Technology. While I begin my quest to explore the 5 best in breed talent management tools available to large companies today, I also would draw on my Talent Management and HR experience where ever necessary.

As they say a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step so lets begin our journey. If there are any Talent managers or technological wizards who would like to share their experiences…….I’d love to hear from u.

Web 2.0: Make it work for U !!

WEB 2.0 IS NO LONGER LINKING INFORMATION….IT’S LINKING PEOPLE…. …It’s about People Sharing, Trading and Collaborating!!!

Probably one of my greatest dilemas in the Technology space would be to understand how best to defined the term ‘web 2.0’..should i call it a new age business revolution, a complicated web of IT jargons or the next generation of web development and design..or may be all of the 3. Call it by any of the 3 names, Web 2.0 is changing our lives in ways we cannot comprehend or simply put understand 🙂 Can you imagine a day without Google, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and Wikis and you begin to unfold the story behind the increasing success of Web 2.0.  A story about sharing and collaboration on a scale never seen before. Lev Grossnan in the TIME magazine ‘Person of the Year: YOU’ refered to the Web 2.0 as revolution that was about the cosmic compendium of knowledge Wikipedia and the million-channel people’s network YouTube and the online metropolis MySpace. I agree with him in terming it as a knowledge sharing collaborative technology that was all about about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing like in case of Twitter, Blogs and the various wikis available on the net. Simply put it is about how Web 2.0 will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes.

For additional information on how you can make Web 2.0 work for you and your company, the following articles would be handy.

McKinsey Global survey – ‘How businesses are using web 2.0

TIME Magazine’s ‘Person of the Year – YOU’

Building the Web 2.0 Enterprise: McKinsey Global Survey Results

Next Generation HR: It’s about time…!!

It has become trite to say that Human resources has been at the proverbial crossroads—between demonstrating strategic value and providing traditional Human Resources (HR) services. Last week as a part of the UC Berkeley curriculum, I was asked to pen my thoughts down on the article ‘System of Record’ and all of a sudden the views expressed in it appeared as a resounding board to me. It led me to ask myself – If traditional HR isn’t a business imperative then what is? What’s the future of HR? Rumbling through loads of articles and journals, reflecting on my prior work experience and numerous interationc with business managers, I percieve the following 3 aspects that would take HR to the next level.

– Concentrate on Strategic HR and Talent Management and automate Administrative HR.

Having worked in the profession for over 5 years now, I agree with various thought leaders and practitions in the function that over the last decade, significant strides have been made in improving service delivery and reducing time spent on administrative transactional work.  However, when it comes to providing more value to the business, we in the function are often accussed of falling short of delivering business value. I agree with Naomi Bloom that our obsession with the transactional HR work cannot substitute the business need for focussing on talent identification and management.

According to me both traditional (adminsitrative) HR needs to be catered to but it’s the business imperaive of Talent Management that needs our greatest focus and attention.  In my previous company, we used PeopleSoft HCM for our system of record or primary source of employee data repository which once implemented was an employee & manager initiated self service process. While it provided all the necessary data for any analytics, business decision making, Senior Management dashboards and the suite of Talent Management Business Intelligence tool – Hyperion, it didn’t cater to the needs of strategic HRM. The Senior Leaders including the CFO, CEOs and Business Directors would recieved a snapshot of all critical employee analytics on their respective dashboards required to make strategic decisions.

2. Focuss on business deliverables and outcomes rather than what the HR function does.

There is also a growing need for HR  to focus on the outcomes that the function rather than what the function traditionally does. An important dimesion in this new thinking is that our focus ought to shift  away from siloed functional solutions to holistic human capital solutions that matter most to our business (e.g., improving talent supply, increasing workforce performance, or ensuring that the business has the capabilities it needs to deliver on its strategy). My previous experience allows me to coroborate on this point in a two-fold manner. Our Hyperion BI tool allowed us to integrate our business ERPs like SAP SCM, Oracle Financials with our HCM systems – PeopleSof HCM, Portal and Enterprise Learning Solutions thus giving us HR Analytics that encompassed business dynamics such as productivity matrix, cost to company, compensation- market fitment data etc. The second point, our Job Descriptions defined according to the Hay methodology focussed on Role Accountabilities and Outcomes. This strategy allowed us to have a greater external  focus around the business strategy, its customers, and investors rather than a siloed intrinsic approach that most companies have.

3. HR must learn to think more like the business:

Clearly, as Hewitt mentions it in their study -‘Next gen HR: Breakthrough Ideas for delivering business value’ , workforce issues loom large in the organizational consciousness. Progressive business leaders accept the fact that human capital is a critical differentiator in business success. They understand that up to 70 percent of a company’s market value can come from intangibles such as its human capital, its brand, and its culture. They realize that what an organization does with its people—its investments in and decisions surrounding human capital—will distinguish it from the competition. Questions that HR like its buisness counterparts should answer include:

  • Where are we heading over the next three to five years?
  • What do customers and investors expect from the business?
  • What are the talent and organizational requirements needed to achieve those objectives?
  • How do we best manage our resources to improve fi nancial performance?

An important learning imparted by my HR director was that we in HR need make a shift in mindset that calls for greater accountability and line of sight to business results  which was perhaps the greatest challenge for me considering the fact that we were a conglomerate of 19 different buisnesses spread across 19 disparate geographies. However it also presents an opportunity for me to know where HR is today in order to take it to the next level.

For me, these 3 statements serve as guide posts thereby allowing me as an HR professional to understand how my contributions are aligned with what the business needs and with what the business demands from them. I am aware that a number of organizations in Corporate America are already well along the path and some like GE are even leading the way and there is one common trait that they all share- i.e. at the helm of the organization, they have Business and HR leaders who are committed to implementing organizational and workforce strategies that drive a competitive advantage.

The question you must ask yourself is whether your company will join them on the leading edge or whether you will be left behind.

Cisco’s Telepresence – Welcome to the Human Network !!

Cisco’s Telepresence …Being a part of a Business Discussion and Sharing Conference Tables from Miles Away..!!!

Telepresence ushers in a new era of improved communications and collaboration. Having seen a Telepresence meeting in action, I am both deeply impressed and astonished at the new marvel of connecting people anytime and anywhere in the world. Telepresence isn’t the future of technology …rather I’d like to call it the new reality of doing business in an intricately networked and globalized economy thus allowing us to efficiently and meaningfully collaborate with our peers, customers, partners, and suppliers situated in any corner of the world, across a multitude of organizational functions and supply chains. At best, to me it’s a technology that brings people and information together real-time to foster innovation and minimize decision times.

Let’s begin this blog post by defining what Cisco’s telepresence is all about. According to John Chambers, Cisco® TelePresence1 is a new conferencing technology that creates a unique, “in-person “experience over the network by combining innovative video, audio, and interactive elements. Telepresence fosters a collaboration that allows us to share a conference table and your ideas—when in reality, you’re a continent away. The video proved this point beautifully as it showed us how people from Tokyo, London, Bangalore and San Jose were sitting across a conference table and having a meaningful business discussion even though they were in different continents miles away.

In most large companies like GE, Nortel, Verizon and Deloitte to name a few, Telepresence is used by their managers for connecting with their dispersed teams scattered in far flung places and different parts of the world. In HR specifically, some of these companies are using the Telepresence feature in their overseas recruitment and interviewing processes, training solutions as well as for other talent management initiatives. A potential avenue for using this technology in my previous company could be for initiating the significant Group wide Organization Health Survey – an annual CEO initiative wherein feedback is given by each management cadre employee across the 23 different countries across the globe on the organization culture and work ethics. Therefore some of the potential benefits that come to my mind would be:

● Accelerate our decision making: Whether in Talent Management initiatives or Employment Forums, the tool has the ability to bring talents, resources, and decision makers dispersed throughout different geographic regions and organizational areas together to synchronize and commit on business objectives and relevant execution blueprints.

● Bring Innovation across the value chain: There are numerous occasions wherein we seek the insights and feedback of our customers and suppliers to make improvements and innovations within our value chain. The interactive nature of this technology allows us to communicate effectively to transform our business processes and benefit from heightened levels of customer satisfaction and innovation.

● Scale up resources: As recruiters, we face a talent – skill shortage. With Telepresence, regardless of where the right talent is available, we are in a position to leverage their productivity to the optimum extent and also in a cost effective manner.

● Integrate with other collaboration applications: In a world characterized by Unified Computing, we need to have superlative integration with our own existing video conferencing technologies, Web 2.0 technologies.

While I could continue effortless with this article singing peons of how great Cisco® TelePresence is, I’d just like to conclude by saying that it is leading the way for business collaboration in world sans boundaries.

For additional information:

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/prod/collateral/ps7060/ps8329/ps8330/ps8333/brochure_c22-502762.pdf

http://blogs.cisco.com/collaboration/comments/can_telepresence_make_me_a_better_manager

Workers of the World, Go Remote!! The shift is happening now…

This concept has fascinated me since the last decade as most Corporates started embracing it in new and innovative ways ever imaged. Without an iota of doubt, the internet and its web 2.0 technologies have changed how we work …but more interestingly it has altered where we work – sometimes in the comfort of our homes and sometimes with our associates in their offices around the globe. With Telecommuting we are finding new innovative ways of doing business anytime, anywhere around the world. The Internatonal  Teleworkers Association Council tells us that 26 million Americans work from home at least 1 day a month and nearly 25 million once a week. In fact in an article posted in TIME magazine I read that the swelling ranks of stay-at- homers include management consultants, stockbrokers, newsletter publishers, advertising directors, energy engineers, urban planners and graphic designers. The number of home professionals, which now totals 9 million, according to the Manhattan-based Link Resources research firm, has been growing at a rate of more than 15% a year and is expected to hit 13 million by 1990, or 11.4% of the U.S. work force.

Mirror Mirror on the Wall…What’s the Future of Work for Us All..??

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About five months ago I migrated to the area the world synonymously calls  ‘The Technology Capital of the World’ – The Silicon Valley, United States of America. I worked in India and the UK for 5 yrs within the HR Systems and Technology field and was termed tech savvy by most professionals..but that was till I landed in the Silicon Valley. From being termed fairly techno savvy, I soon began to realize that I was a technology novice in this part of the world – oblivious of the wikis, twitters, zoho systems my fellow classmates at Berkeley were so familiar with.
Last week, while sipping coffee, I decided to take a break from the daily humdrum of everyday life  to  do  some crystal ball gaze  into the future. Reading articles and cover stories enumerating  a shattered employment landscape, I mustered the optimism and enthusiasm to regard impending  obstacles as opportunities for some interesting scenic detours.
To begin on a positive note on how our workplace has been rapidly changing …think about the massive popularity of facebook and twitter which didn’t exist 10 yrs before. Ten years before that, we didn’t have the Web. So who knows what the future would bring for us  in a decade from now?
The TIME magazine cover story captioned ‘Future of Work’ written by Steven Gottlieb / Getty and Rosabeth Moss Kanter’s article on ‘Deloitte & Touche (B): Changing the Workplace’ is perhaps most apt for this crystal ball gazing exercise. I was most influenced by 3 emerging trends  elaborated by the 2 thought leaders.
The first trend which highlighted a probable scenario in which we will see a more flexible, more freelance, more collaborative and far less secure work world.  The second trend states with a certain degree of conviction that  the organizations of tomorrow would be run by a generation with new values , ethics— and women will increasingly be at the controls. Last but not the least, success would tilt towards  potentially lucrative positions other than Wall Street that prize young minds who are both technological savvy and have an analytical bent of mind.
Although I have briefly touched these trends in this article, this article was meant to give a heads-up on some of the trends I would be elaborating on in my future blog spots.
References:
1. Future of Work: Steven Gottlieb / Getty, TIME Magazine, May 25, 2009
2. Deloitte & Touche (B): Changing the Workplace:Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Jane Roessner, Sep 28, 1999

Sans Frontiers – Welcome to Virtual Reality!!

Look! Up on the screen! It’s a galaxy! A new reality sans physical frontiers…Welcome to the world of Virtual Reality!!

It seems like a Sci-fi movie straight out of Hollywood, but within the confines of homes, offices..big and small and the world in general, the winds of change are blowing that threaten to unleash a significant and powerful revolution. This revolution is regarded as the first step towards man’s mastery over machine intelligence. A revolution that is not only changing our ideas but also our relationships with each other.  It’s what we’ve commonly heard as ‘Virtual Reality’. In a series of posts on this topic, we will see how this new reality defies physical boundaries of space and time, shatters our image of a stereo-typical workplace, and lays out new rules for business, marketing and communication in general.

Often described as a computer based simulated environment wherein the user interacts with the use of character or avatars. Some posts describe this new reality as a portrayal of some of our most innate fantasies as essayed in the post ‘Second Life & Ur Alter Ego’ while the other posts are restricted to the changing dynamics of our work-worlds.

We see Virtual Reality in most companies and in practically every aspect of our lives. The Computer Gaming industry attributes its success to it, airline pilots use it in their simulation software, B-schools and Universities use it in their curriculum to teach business strategy and entrepreneurship to their students and Fortune 500 Companies like Dell use it as a part of their famed ‘Direct Marketing’ strategy.  As an HR professional in a Fortune 500 companies, we’ve used   Cisco’s Telepresence and WebEx tool for connecting with our people all over the world.

Admit it…we may not like to applaud its existence but we know there’s no hiding away from it.  VR everywhere!!

Hail Technology..!!!

Imagine a world in which no microwaves, Twitter, Facebook, Gadgets and GPSs exist…Seems like a nightmare or a hallucination !!! Well, have we ever stopped and wondered how technology is a part of every second of our daily lives.

Many of us wake up, wander into the kitchen and zap our breakfast in a microwave , ignoring yesterday’s techno-dinosaurs like the gas stove, oven, or even the toaster. Then we relax while sipping coffee that was brewed ahead of time and check our cell phone or laptop to help us get through the day. As we head off to work in our cars, we are glued onto the instructions given by out GPS and use our cell phones for every conceivable purpose we can ever imagine. And that’s just our morning! It’s a rapidly changing dynamic world, where technology leads us in perhaps the most fascinating and thrilling ways we can ever imagine. Well, this blog is a tribute to technology and how it has transformed our everyday life – both professional and personal.

Finally its not the Sillicon Valley czars who are tracking the happenings in the Technology space…its the world at large that is watching and waiting for the future of technology and therefore its implications on the future of work.

New World of Work: Implications for HR

Are U Ready for a Recruiting Shift???

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Jobs2Web: From Career Site to Recruit…“, posted with vodpod
An extremely interesting presentation to show the remarkable shift in Talent Sourcing and Recruitment. Is there any company on the World Wide Web who has used this Careers Portal and can stand testimony of its revolutionary nature…??? A topic as great a conversation starter as this one is a fantastic opportunity to share  experiences – the  joys and hardships :).