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.

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