Putting the H back in HCM. 4 Questions. #HRTechConf

As I plan to spend a day at my first HRTech Conference in Chicago next week, it got me thinking about how far along we are towards getting the people part right in HCM. Or as my industry colleague and Head of Learning at TELUS, Dan Pontefract, aptly calls, the “Wesources” part.

There are some excellent application and application delivery questions to be answered at this event that helped me a lot. My fellow Enterprise Irregulars colleagues are in top form here: Naomi Bloom has put together her now famous HRTech Conference Pre-Read on what she’s looking for . Thomas Otter is looking at SaaS pricing and what he’s looking for at the event, here. And there’s plenty of other extremely thought provoking content from the likes of Jason Averbook and Josh Bersin.

Like many others, I’m coming from the people performance side of the HCM equation. As Social in the enterprise matures from nebulous “Facebook for the Enterprise” efforts that haven’t lead to meaningful results, towards surgical usage to accelerate performance, having the discipline to really focus on people AND business execution becomes ever more important.

Social is a massive topic at the the event this year. But these are the simple foundational advancements Im looking for:

1. Identity: Identity comes from systems of record for sure but also based on my social footprint – what I think of my self, what my colleagues think of me and how well my work is accepted by my peers. Don’t get identity right and you can forget about the rest that comes after – finding people, sharing, collaborating and improving output. Social technology capabilities have forgotten about this first step for the most part. Are we starting to get it right?

2. More H and less M, in HCM: To truly enable execution, it’s about how we’re both managing but its also about finding and federating talent across the organization. HR has traditionally been many many degrees away from core Line of Business (sales, service, marketing, production, etc) inefficiencies, yet it’s charged with managing and nurturing talent centrally. That’s woefully impractical. Social technologies,when designed and employed right, can massively shrink the distance between core customer, employee and partner problems and opportunities and your talent pool. How well is HR leveraging technology solve this problem?

3. Informal Peer Learning: Many business activities powered by transactional or structured systems have an informal/unstructured cousin. Take learning for example. You may have the best LMS system in the world but if you’re say, trying to teach a factory worker how to wear a glove properly to reduce injury (and your Workers Comp outlay), endless PowerPoints are hopeless. I’m sure you can think of a 100 other such examples in your organization. Social Learning capabilities, rich media on a mobile device is hugely powerful to dramatically improve on the job learning. Beyond Learning, most structured talent management process have similar informal cousins. Are we beyond transactions and moving to execution, yet?

4. Where’s the proverbial puck? Are we tracking at least somewhat close to the adoption appetite of the average employee when it comes to behavior change or are we designing new fangled systems for a world thats 10 years out? Don’t get me wrong, I like aspirational design and innovation as much as the next guy but this was an expensive lesson learnt in the enterprise social networking world where we kept piling on more technology in the hopes that social networks will finally get adopted. All that happened is that the technology got quickly commoditzed as the business value wasn’t apparent. Lets see if all we see is just a whole lot of shiny or if practical execution focused design is emerging.

HRTech is of course about a lot more than this. But we tend to often think that the answer to complex business problems is complex technology. I think there are a host of very simple ways to provide massive performance acceleration benefit, if and only if you have an innate understanding of business execution problems on the ground. Im looking forward to seeing how were tacking this in the HR world next week.

I’ve spent a lot of time on the area of human capital performance (vs management). But since I joined SAP, I’ve gotten a deeper understanding of some of the big deficiencies in this area where social can move the needle. Thanks to colleagues such as David Ludlow, Dmitri Krakovsky and Aaron Au. HRTech I expect will be a great place to see where the industry is, as a whole.

Last year I wrote this in a previous blog post about collaborative HR performance and its something I still believe, infact with even more conviction:

“Bill Kutik of HRTech fame aptly characterized HR as the ‘Rodney Dangerfield’ of the Executive Suite. I couldn’t have said it better. As I discussed with the esteemed group of CHROs and executives at the retreat, in my estimation, HR as a function has been beaten down (emotionally) to a pulp over the last decade. This function has had the ugly pleasure of, one one hand, getting near zero credit for those very rock stars they sourced who were responsible for blazing performance in good times, but yet were handed the dirty job of laying off thousands in bad times. Now is their time to design for and to transition into the ultimate brokers of real people intelligence. And to then trade on that indispensable currency as the rest of the leadership sizes up what effectively competing and winning in the 21st century will entail.”

Looking forward to learning a lot in the day and a half that I’m there. Tons for good friends are in attendance. If you’d like to say hi, come by an event that SAP and SuccessFactors is hosting on Monday at the House of Blues.


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Giovanna Enea
Giovanna Enea

There is the well-known statement that "People leave managers, not companies", pointing out that a key driver for employee retention is the sense of belonging and feeling connected. Social capabilities can also in this respect help adding more "H" into HCM!

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