How Will Blockchain Impact HR?

Blockchain Glass Bead Consulting

Of all the emerging technologies, blockchain is the least exciting as a technology, but potentially the most impactful on society.  Blockchain doesn’t converse with you, it won’t 3D print your house or cut out your kidney stones with precision while the surgeon has a cup of tea. In terms of technology, it is about as exciting as relational databases.

When you think of blockchain, you might think of Bitcoin.  Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency that requires a maths degree to buy and ownership of a laptop that never crashes. Yet Bitcoin is just one of many different cryptocurrencies that uses blockchain as its core technology.  And blockchain technology is also being used outside of financial services.

What Is Blockchain and what is it’s value?

Simply put, a blockchain is a decentralised database shared among a network of computers, all of which must approve an exchange before it can be recorded. Typically if we want to send someone some money, we would need a third party, like a bank to verify the exchange.  The advantage of blockchain is that it stores an indelible ledger of all previous transactions in a string of ‘blocks’, meaning we know who owns what and who can send what to whom.

Individuals and organisations can use blockchain to:

  • Exchange digital assets without friction – a central ledger is no longer required which is why there is so much excitement in financial services. Transactions between people can happen nearly instantly without any third party.
  • Execute smart contracts – documents can be stored electronically, and be verified as authentic. So we have unbreakable contracts.
  • Store digital records – you can have an electronic ID and all sorts of information associated with it, your verified electronic profile.

 

How a blockchain works - FT

How a blockchain works – FT

To understand more about how blockchain works I recommend this great TED talk from Don Tapscott, “How the blockchain is changing money and business.”

What are the real life uses of a blockchain?

In an era where trust has been eroded in our institutions, politicians and even fellow citizens, anything that can strengthen trust should be viewed positively.  In my article, The Quantified Workplace: Technology vs Trust, I commented that potentially intrusive technology will be introduced in the workplace, but only at the speed of employee trust.

Given its practical attributes of storing digital records, executing smart contracts and as an efficient exchange, there are many real-life uses and experiments. This ranges from fixing broken business models e.g. Intellectual property in music to the more personal, recapturing our identities, so the ‘virtual you’ is actually owned by you.

There are also examples of blockchain systems being developed to solve problems such as human trafficking, tracking blood diamonds and as a land register.

“Blockchains automate away at the centre. Instead of putting the taxi driver out of a job, blockchain puts Uber out of a job and lets the taxi drivers work with the customer.” Vitalik Buterin, founder of blockchain platform Ethereum

As Don and Alex Tapscott argue in their book, Blockchain Revolution, blockchain could be the great economic leveller – a tool to strip out the middlemen from our economy and reward the makers and doers who truly create value.    So there is definitely a group of political enthusiasts who see blockchain as transforming society.

What’s the potential impact of blockchain on HR and people management?

Given the practical attributes of blockchain promising to cut out middle-men and provide unbreakable contract, what might be the impact on people management, organisations and work?

In Japan blockchain technology is being developed to create a prototype resume authentication database for job hunters with the aim of increasing transparency and in turn address fraudulent credentials.

With a resume authentication database, the verification of official certificates and contracts, which have until now been typically done on paper, could be carried out using the blockchain database” said Osamu Yonetani, CTO of Recruit Technologies.

Imagine having all your employment related details associated with your electronic signature in one block :- security access, insurance, payroll, expenses, work performance, employment history, psychometrics etc.  The employment contracting process would effectively be redundant.  You could work almost immediately, with quick payment.  The role of the recruiter will not be needed, but that’s the least of the disruption.  This raises questions about the nature of the employment contract and the ‘job’ itself. Most of us will then be in the gig economy, enabled by transparent contract and payment mechanisms.

Chronobank.io, an Australian short-term work platform, is developing a Blockchain-based financial system for freelancers or contractors to obtain work and pay them in their own “labour-hour” token. They aim to disrupt the HR, finance and recruitment industries with their upcoming platform.  I spoke with Sergei Sergienko CEO ChronoBank, who told me “Our goal is to make a difference in the way people find work and get rewarded for their labour, doing it decentralised and without the involvement of traditional financial institutions.”  This is potentially transformative, and Sergei’s message to HR leaders was this change will happen, so find out more and work to develop this next wave for your organisation.

As Gary Hamel has said, “our management structures are not suited for a digital age”   In some cases, blockchain software will eliminate the need for many management functions.

Which brings us back to the original question, what’s the potential impact of blockchain on HR and people management?

Blockchain could fundamentally change how we manage people and HR, then the impact on HR is an irrelevant question if some of these predictions come true as we will have moved to very different economic models.

I am looking forward to seeing how this develops, and in our field, and maybe seeing some #disruptHR start-ups pitching blockchain solutions at future HR Tech World conferences.  Be great to hear from anyone out there developing blockchain models and technology in HR.

(This was a guest post on the HRN Blog)

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Let Them Eat Tech

@AndySpence

The HR Tech Congress, the second held in Paris, was yet again a splendid mix of stimulating speakers, great organisations and brilliant technology.  However, the smell of revolution was in the air…

Professor Gary Hamel made a rallying cry that was so loud it could be heard 17km away in The Palace of Versailles,”Kill bureaucracy and you’ll unclog the arteries of business,” whilst Dr.Daniel Thorniley warned us about the economy, and it was not good news.  Debt, low growth and a rising populist tide in politics means soon we will all be working in the gig economy, whether we like it or not.

How will we survive this extended downturn?

“What will we eat?” they ask.

 “Let them eat cake!” the response of the ancien régime.

(Or as Marie Antoinette did not say “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche”. But ‘let them eat brioche’ doesn’t have the same ring to it – anyway I digress)

Gary Hamel told the HR audience to “to stop fiddling at the margins” and take up arms against bureaucracy, the biggest barrier to productivity in business.  Hamel even invented a word for this corporate disease “Bureausclerosis

If you can spell it, surely you can destroy it, right?

The symptoms of bureausclerosis Hamel described were: added management layers, isolation of leaders, longer decision cycles, increase in formalized policies, rule proliferation, increase in power of staff groups, organization becomes primitive, loss of ‘voice’ from staff, increase in legal processes, decrease in risk-taking, and the politicization of it all.

Ready or not, here comes the Gig Economy

If Professor Hamel gave us some examples of what was needed to transform business, Dr. Daniel Thorniley provided us with the big picture on the economy.  We are living in an unprecedented period of low growth where 63% of youths in the Eurozone do not have proper contracted employment.  Many will be forced into the Gig Economy, and this doesn’t just mean a nation of musicians and artisans, but also hosts, drivers, plumbers and (of course) humble HR consultants. Many will struggle to make a living or have the security that the previous generation have taken for granted.  I read Thorniley’s latest 46-page report, Global Business Outlook 2016-2020, with the cheery subtitle, “Why there is no future for your children.”

Now all this makes for gloomy reading and we might expect delegates of HR Tech Congress to dust off their Édith Piaf records and get out the whiskey,

but many could be heard asking, “OK, it all sounds terrible, but does this impact me?”

“Mais oui, bien sur!” (my franglais is improving)

In HR, changing business models and global economic drivers will determine whether we are scrambling for candidates, sweating our employees for discretionary effort, or working on clever algorithms to automate work.  I would guess a larger proportion of the 3,500 delegates will be joining the gig economy over the next few years.

One thing’s for sure, we might not be able to guess where the economy is going, but there are plenty of technology developments to get excited about.

Software is eating HR

So, if our business models and organisations are changing before our eyes, this raises some big questions.

How does this affect the way we think of work, organisations, and society?

Do our old people management practices still work?

How does HR respond to this? “New systems anyone?”

There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” – Peter Drucker

This message seems to resonate with the HR Technology industry and is especially true now.

My concern is whether we have the right set of people management practices for the type of organisations that Hamel says will flourish?  Are we in danger of simply crystallising the processes that served us well in the last century?

These and other questions present the challenge for HR and the technology industry today.

I had the pleasure of introducing some excellent presentations in the well-attended HR Tech stream, so could not attend as many presentations as usual.  However, my fellow blog squad comrades have done a great job of sharing what they saw.

-> Reinventing HR: 12 key takeaways from #HRTechWorld from David Green

-> My top 10 disruptHR’ers at HR Tech World Congress from Faye Holland

-> Accelerating Gender Balance in Tech from Dorothy Dalton

-> And this is a great resource – all the presentations from Paris (and previous conferences) in one place: HR Tech World Congress Presentations

I was also fortunate enough to look under the bonnet of some of the latest tech tools, and I am particularly interested in the use of predictive analytics and artificial intelligence in solving business problems.  I saw some useful tools that work as a stop gap for current recruiting/ATS software, e.g. tools that help prioritise recruiters workload using simple algorithms.

There were some nice looking visualisation tools that sit on top of current HRIS systems showing historic data.  However, I was disappointed that I didn’t find any genuine machine learning or pattern recognition in this space, despite some of the marketing claims.   People Analytics is an exciting area in the early stages of its development.  However we need to overcome some key challenges to be successful, see my recent post, “7 Challenges That People Analytics Must Overcome”

Building the new HR Republic

There were many great stories of companies building the new republic, making progress, solving business problems and embracing technology.   Technology is indeed being used to transform whole industries and the biggest impact on HR will not be on how we operate, but on how we manage work in the future.

For those in HR and leadership roles, there is plenty we can do before we even think of buy new software. We can start by asking, what is the evidence that this practice (e.g. performance, talent, hiring, learning, engagement) works in our organisation now, and will do in the future?

It was a dismal economist who gave our profession the name, Human Resources, rendering people as an asset to manage.

Maybe this term also belongs to the last century along with Bureaucracy?

As with many revolutions, there will be casualties, but change can pave the way for a new order and a better approach to people management.

So when managers in your organisation ask about the conference and the impact on their staff, you might mention defeating bureausclerosis, the challenges of low growth and the gig economy.

If they then ask, “But, what will they eat?”, just simply reply,

“Let them eat tech”.

À bientôt.

(This was a guest post on the HRN Blog)

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7 Challenges that People Analytics Must Overcome

People Analytics - Glass Bead Consulting

7 Challenges that People Analytics Must Overcome

I am excited about the role People Analytics will play in transforming organisations.  I have seen some real success stories where organisations have incorporated more data-driven decisions about people and work. 

David Green highlights some great case-studies in his article, 20 People Analytics case-studies, which includes, Virgin Media, who reduced sickness absence rates from 9% to 4% saving the business £750,000.

There is clearly a journey to be taken where we move from our current starting point, where we often distrust the data we have on employees, to a place where we can better predict sickness absence, attrition and productivity.

Most organisations are already on this journey to some degree. The percentage of companies that believe they are fully capable of developing predictive models doubled this year, from 4% in 2015 to 8% in 2016, according to research by Deloitte, “Global Human Capital Trends 2016”.   However this journey will have some challenges that we will need to overcome.

People Analytics can play a key role in reinventing organisations.  However we need to resolve some of the structural challenges to truly succeed.  I covered some of these themes in my recent presentation, The Role of HR in Reinventing Organisations: Embracing People Analytics, at the Workforce Analytics Summit in Sydney.

Despite the hype, there is low adoption of People Analytics at the moment – here are some of the challenges that I think we need to address and also some suggestions of how WE (in the broadest sense) can overcome these challenges.

As always, I would welcome your views on the challenges, and especially ideas, and examples of how to overcome them.

Challenge 1 – We prefer ‘gut feelings’ to make people-based decisions

"80% of HR practitioners say their company leaders still rely on 'gut feelings' to make people-based decisions"  according to a survey of Human Capital Institute members in partnership with Oracle.

What’s wrong with using ‘gut-feelings’ to make people-based decision?

Professor Rob Briner from Bath University explains in his article What’s the evidence for…Evidence-Based HR?  that “our intuition is a valid source of evidence, albeit a weak source.” 

Daniel Kahneman, in his book – Thinking, Fast and Slow described two main types of thinking well with their inherent biases.

When you are under time pressure for a decision, you need to follow intuition. There is nothing wrong with using our intuition or gut feeling, but as Kahneman has said “you should not take your intuitions at face value”

So back to the challenge for those with skills in People Analytics, if your business customers do not believe that data is useful then they will not ask for it, or use it, or believe in it.  Which is a fairly big challenge!

So how do we overcome this challenge? Maybe there is a middle way between the fast and slow lane?

What you can do:

Make sure the boss ‘gets’ using evidence-based data.  If you are the boss, then make sure your new hires also ‘get’ it.  

Make intuitive decisions more data-based AND our data-based decisions more intuitive

 

Challenge 2 – The Peak of Inflated Expectations

Emerging Technology Hype Cycle - Gartner Emerging Technology Hype Cycle – Gartner

In HR we have always had business problems, statistical knowledge and access to piles of data, so why the hype around People Analytics now?  Well the Cloud and Big Data sales machine is probably talking to your boss right now.  You know the pitch, “Analytics pays $13.01 for every dollar spent”.

Managing expectations on people performance with the CEO should be your job and as mentioned, People Analytics has delivered some good early results, but one of the biggest dangers right now is far too much hype.

Since 1995 Gartner has been measuring The Hype Cycle, the promise of emerging technologies, and shows five key phases of a technology’s life cycle.  Is People Analytics in danger of succumbing to the hype before it delivers benefits?

Peak of Inflated Expectations -> “Early publicity produces a number of success stories – often accompanied by scores of failures. Some companies take action; many do not”

Trough of Disillusionment -> “Interest wanes as experiments and implementations fail to deliver.”

So what if the CEO gets excited about HR once in a generation you might say?  What happens if we set expectations too high for People Analytics and do not deliver?  It will not be the first time that HR has over-promised and under-delivered based on “best-practice”.  At some point you will need new recruits in a competitive market which needs new software, but there’s only  so many times you submit a business case with a decent ROI.  What you really need is some early positive results.

What you can do:

Set realistic expectations on people analytics – aim low  and over-deliver.

Start with a specific business problem

Learn from the early adopters

 

Challenge 3 – HR doesn’t need Big Data, it needs Big Questions

“Without data you are just another person with an opinion” W.Edwards Deming

But, “Without questions, you are just another person with data”

There is a danger that People Analytics is a solution looking for a problem and in the “scientific method as an ongoing process”, the generation of interesting questions is a key step. 

To do this we need to know the business.

I had a client a few years ago, who trained a group of HR Business Partners as 6-Sigma Black Belts.  After the training, they demanded a data dump from Peoplesoft.  "What problem are you trying to solve?” and the reply was “We don’t know yet until we see the data…”.

The example highlights the need to solve business problems not analyse data.  Strategy is all about making choices, so if you run an analytics team, generate as many questions and hypotheses around a particular problem area as you can by casting the net widely.  

What you can do:

Generate many wide ranging questions and hypotheses which solves business problems

Coach Business Partners and HR into developing hypotheses and sharing the insights back to the business

 

Challenge 4 – We need the right tools to do the job

This paper is worth reading, “HR and Analytics: why HR is set to fail the big data challenge”  (Angrave et al, 2016)  published in Human Resource Management Journal. 

As you might expect from the provocative title, they don’t hold back :-

“the HR analytics industry, which is largely based around products and services, which too often fail to provide the tools for HR to create and capture the strategic value of HR data.”

In other words, our HR Systems, data and reporting tools might not help us answer the business questions we have.  Many HR operational systems were simply not designed for analytics, and although they are improving, I expect to see more sophisticated analytics functionality in subsequent software releases.

What you can do:

Keep discussing your needs with your Technology Partners

Collaborate with others in the industry to source great tools

 

Challenge 5 – No confidence in the underlying frameworks

To use a house analogy, there is no point having cameras & sensors, unless the house is structurally sound in the first place.  We need to have a roof, secure doors and running water before we can add sensors that optimise our heating, detect poisonous gas, detect intruders etc

As Max Blumberg says in his article, People Analytics: Who’s fooling who?   “if like most people you don’t believe in your organisation’s competency and performance management frameworks, then you certainly aren’t in a position to believe in the results of statistical analysis based on data generated by these frameworks. As the old acronym GIGO says, Garbage In, Garbage Out.”

What we are crying out for is a theoretical framework to test our hypotheses about people, behaviour, productivity and organisations.  We are not there yet, but I am optimistic that over the next few years we can develop the skills and knowledge to increase our confidence levels in people management.

What you can do:

Stop doing people analytics until you’ve fixed your frameworks.

Collaborate with academia and peers in other organisations

 

Challenge 6 – Show me the Money

The problem is, you can show the C-Suite pretty data visualisations of their organisation showing attrition, gender balance,  and average commuting time, but the hard truth is the CEO will only really listen when you link it to Revenue and Profits.  When it comes to employees, the holy-grail is increasing employee productivity.  We need to link as much as possible to employee Productivity to get ‘buy-in’.

What you can do:

Develop your own internal measures for employee productivity

Try and link your initiatives to improving employee productivity

 

Challenge 7 – Structural issues with HR Operating Models

I have been speaking and writing about some of the structural issues with HR Operating Models for many years (see for instance, Is your HR Operating Model Fit for the Future?  If the supporting structures for HR analytics are not in place, then the probability of success is lower.

A couple of structural issues with HR Operating models that many orgs sill grapple with are:

Working in silos.  In HR we have developed some great experts over the last few years (e.g. talent, learning, reward etc) yet we have also become a function of specialists creating more silos which makes it harder (not impossible) to work together as a whole to deliver HR (Business) strategy.

The role of HR Business Partner.  The role was introduced as a strategic partner and account manager for HR Services, however there have been challenges.  Many orgs are on their 3rd or 4th revisions of this role and HR BPs are key to solving business problems as key customers for an analytics service.   However we are in a transition phase, as described by “Most HR BPs won’t cut it…”   from Luc Smeyers and “Stop Hiring Data Scientists if you’re not ready for Data Science” from Greta Roberts.

We will never have the optimal HR Operating Model with managers, systems, HR experts working seamlessly together.  However we can strive to continually improve the model using People Analytics to help rethink many of our HR programmes and influencing how we deliver our people management.

What you can do:

Learn some of the lessons from others in HR Transformations over the last few years

Ensure Business Partners have good analytical skills and are inquisitive about the business. Provide coaching on basic statistics and people analytics where needed.

Continually evaluate the efficacy of our HR and Management initiatives

My “gut-feeling” is that People Analytics will help reinvent organisations.  We are in the early stages of a journey and we can all help by sharing methods, learnings and positive results.  We need to keep an eye on some of the near-term challenges as we move forward.   One key action within our control is to set realistic expectations and solve specific business problems.  This can get our business partners more interested into a different way of working.  The technology industry will probably evolve to roll-out improved offerings with time.  And our evidence base should get better as we improve data quality and start to ask better informed questions.  Although the ecosystem I refer to is complex, with diverse vested interests, we should continue to encourage sharing and collaboration as much as possible.  

Here is a presentation on "7 Challenges that People Analytics Must Overcome" I gave at HR Congress Amsterdam in November 2016.

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State of HR Systems Market Europe 2016 Sierra Cedar Survey Results

For the last 19th years, Sierra Cedar have been conducting a survey on HR System adoption.  This demonstrates admirable commitment to a market that ebbs and flows like the form of our star strikers in the European Football Championships (who are only on their 15th edition).  The survey is an invaluable resource to those working in the HR Technology ecosystem – the report can be downloaded here.  In this article I wanted to share some of the findings that caught my eye, but mainly to ask you to complete the survey for your organisation, before 8th July, so that this report is even more valuable next year!

The Big 2 still dominate – I am not talking about the Germany and Spain duopoly in Euro 2016, who have won most cups with 3 each.  In European HRMS adoption, the ‘Big 2’ tech providers, Oracle and SAP, dominate with 83% of the market.   SAP (HCM plus SuccessFactors) make up 52% and Oracle 31%.   ADP, Kronos and Workday make up 25%. This might surprise delegates who were at HR Tech World Spring 2016 in London, for example, noting the highly visible presence of CoreHR and Workday.  The ‘Big 2’ have their legacy customers, the onus is on the many challengers to prise them away and build their market share.

How much does this software cost? For large companies (with more than 10,000 employees), the average license cost per employee per year, is $116 (or €102).   For smaller companies with less than 2,500 employees, this cost is much more at $394 (€348).  This excludes implementation costs.  Now for this amount, you might even get you a ticket to one of the group stage matches in France.  In fact, why not spend the money on football tickets instead, your employee engagement scores will surely increase? *nervous laughter*.  When you have such highly paid employees on your payroll as Cristiano Ronaldo, who has a salary of €21m per year apparently, you want to get the most out of them.

Could wearable technology give us insight into players’ performance? 55% in the survey think using wearables will “increase workforce productivity”.  16% of organisations in the survey are using or evaluating wearable technology at the moment.  According to this article we might see Wayne Rooney cavorting around Old Trafford wearing a tracking device.

The most common pathway to an HR Technology Transformation, with 26.5%, is “Rip & Replace” which is basically moving everything all at once to the Cloud.  This is like selling your 3 most reliable players in a winning team – a tactic that is a bit risky!

Contrary to reading the industry press, not everyone is in the HR Cloud yet, it is estimated that about 50% of core HRMS is still on premise.  This might have something to do with the residual customers of the Big 2 taking their time on the upgrade path and working out options, and a rump of organisations where moving to the cloud brings more security and privacy issues.   One thing’s for sure, whichever country’s team wins in Paris will be in Cloud 9.

As you read the survey report, bear in mind the results are based on an adoption and do not represent market share.   In my view, it’s always useful to read these surveys for good background context.  This survey also highlights some of the trends the analysts are seeing and refers to useful frameworks used.  If you are considering making changes to your HR Systems, always go back a step to understand what your business really needs from HR and how this will support your HR Operating model. This article might also be useful – How to Earn your HR Cloud Tattoo.

Finally, make sure you complete the SURVEY before 8th July and good luck to your team in Euro 2016!

This article was a guest post on HRN Blog

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BPaaS Rising HR Outsourcing in the Cloud

BPaaS Rising HRNWhat is the impact of SaaS on HR Outsourcing?  I have written how BPaaS (Business Process as a Service) might provide a “Silver Lining for HR Outsourcing”.

One of the pioneers of BPaaS is OneSource Virtual, who are well known in the US as one of the largest Workday implementation partners.  They recently opened their Derry European Service Centre in Northern Ireland and plan to create 290 jobs by the end of 2017.  This is great news for Derry and also for prospective and current Workday customers in the UK and Europe.    I am delighted to share a conversation I had with Wesley Bryan, President, COO and Co-Founder of OneSource Virtual, who will be at HR Tech World in London next week. 

Thursday_2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wesley Bryan, President, COO and Co-Founder of OneSource Virtual

Tell me a little bit about how One Source Virtual came about and what you do?

OneSource Virtual supports the automated delivery of Business Process as a Service (BPaaS) and supports the delivery of solutions exclusively for Workday. We empower organizations of all sizes by providing Workday deployment, consulting, training and in-application payroll services, benefit administration, finance and accounting outsourcing, and application management services.

It is exciting news about your new Customer Centre in Northern Ireland, why did you choose Derry?

Because we knew the next phase of our business was to launch our UK HRMS and Payroll services, we knew it would be strategically beneficial to have a service centre in that area.  After a long selection process, we finally settled on Derry because of its labour market, stellar talent, and the positive relationship its government has on businesses. The talent and workforce in Derry is absolutely unbelievable. We certainly haven’t regretted our decision.

What services will you be providing in the UK this year?

OSV provides UK AMS Consulting, Workday Deployment, UK Payroll and Tax Services, and will be launching an Employee Service Centre that will assist with Workday Helpdesk, Workforce Administration, Benefits Services, Document Management and Administration Services. In the latter part of 2017, we will also be providing AP Processing in the UK.

HR Outsourcing gets a mixed reception due to some tricky relationships in the last 20 years, is BPaaS less risky for organisations?

Absolutely. When BPaaS is used to outsource, we don’t have to go into a company’s system and takeover the maintenance of the software like a traditional BPO.  Through BPaaS, a company is able to outsource services within their system of record. This makes it less risky to the customer because their system is already in- house.  A customer can decide at any time to bring an outsourced service back in-house and we can make that change without altering their structure.

You have done 870+ Workday projects (initial deployments and add-on engagements). What is the no.1 tip you can give on a successful implementation?

Don’t underestimate the complexity in deploying the software. It is imperative to bring in a partner that can help you design and think through how you will utilize and configure the software.

At what point in the HR software buying/implementation cycle would an organisation consider BPaaS?

Typically and ideally during the buying cycle. The BPaaS delivery model is very different from your traditional BPO service model and if you want a true BPaaS offering, you have to be careful to choose a true multi-tenancy SaaS provider who can deliver a range of services that can be standardized across a variety of customers and ultimately be more cost–effective. If that is important to you, it should be discussed during the buying cycle.

Finally, what do you think is the most exciting trend in HR Tech in the coming years?

What excites me the most is the way systems are being built today.  It isn’t uncommon to see various platforms sharing information in real time. For instance you can log in to one platform by using your Facebook credentials. The possibilities with that type of technology are endless because you’re not limited to the information that is only in your database.

This was a guest blog for HRN Blog, "BPaaS Rising – HR Outsourcing in the Cloud"

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The Quantified Workplace: Technology vs Trust?

Glass Bead Consulting

Jo, an Account Manager is being taken to the office in a BUG, a BeemerUberGoogle driverless car.  She is discussing her day with her automated coaching partner, Sirius.   “I notice that you had less alpha-rhythm sleep last night.   I suggest you have some breakfast, to increase your energy levels. At 11am you have a meeting with the new Client Executive.  She is usually sceptical initially but warms up.  Remember to ask an open question, and smile to help her feel at ease.  I notice that Lee, your Insights Manager, has a different socialising pattern and lower productivity since coming back from sick leave last week – might be worth checking in with him today while in the office?”

This futuristic scenario requires you to suspend your disbelief!

Firstly, it meshes different data sets that we don’t measure at the moment – on performance, location and personal biometric data.

Secondly, it assumes we have a robust framework for the prediction of behaviour, and we are not quite there yet.

And finally, it assumes employees, like Jo, are willing for employers to use their personal data on movement, diet and performance in this way.

All currently outrageous, but could this type of insight be possible in the future?

People Analytics and Social Sensing Technology

In his book “People Analytics”, Ben Waber, President and CEO of Humanyze,  explains how Social Sensing Technology could transform business.

His team use Sociometric badges which they ask employees to wear for workplace experiments.  The badges are like a large ID card stuffed with sensors that can measure movement, face to face speech, vocal intonation, who is talking to whom and for how long.  The experiments all require employee opt-in, and have produced some interesting insights already.

Jos De Blok, CEO of the innovative community care organisation, Buurtzorg, was asked,

“What is the optimal team size?”

His answer was 12. Why? 

“Because we don’t have bigger tables.”

A witty and pragmatic answer, perhaps, but this makes assumptions about office design and team effectiveness.  

Using Sociometry badges, for example, Humanyze assessed whether a redesigned office boosted employee collaboration, or employees were actually using that treadmill in the gym they had lobbied so hard for.   When we have choices on the design and layout of our offices, we can actually use employee movement data, in addition to other communication data, to analyse collaboration patterns of employees.  In Office Design, there are many questions where this kind of approach can help. Do campuses actually yield better interaction patterns than offices with thousands of people on different floors?  When is open seating better than having your own desk?  Should we put long or short tables in our offices?  The use of physical space is underused as a tool for changing patterns of collaboration and behaviour.

Waber gives plenty of other examples of using the Sociometry badges in the workplace. For example, Corporate Epidemiology, when you get a dose of “man-flu” (this is a disease btw) do you tough it out, or stay at home?  Employee tracking can help guide the best workplace policies and practices to reduce employee sickness. 

Thanks to those ‘perennial office guinea-pigs’ working in call-centres, a study on Employee Burnout with Bank America found that strong cohesion was linked to lower stress levels.

Waber also approaches the question, How to encourage Innovation?   Who is more creative, the team behind Bart Simpson or Eric Cartmen?   Both very funny cartoons, but did you know an entire episode of South Park is conceived and animated in 6 days, whereas, an episode of The Simpsons is produced over the course of 6 months using a Korean animation studio?   Waber outlines the very different creative processes and declares South Park the winner based on ratings – Doh!  He studied three R&D teams to understand creativity in general, and found the amount of time spent interacting with team members was positively correlated with creativity.

Swipe right for better data

The workforce data we hold at the moment is often static, out of date and relies on self-report rather than actual behaviour.   Data on our actual behaviour is far better than our self-reported data.  All of us have completed the obligatory annual Employee Engagement survey at least once in our life, by circling 4 out of 5 on every item, without even reading the questions.  And if it wasn’t you, your colleagues have done this.  An example from online dating illustrates the relative value of self-reported data vs actual behaviour. 

“People might list 'money' as an important quality in a partner, but then we see them messaging all the artists and guitar players," Amarnath Thombre, president of Match.com. 

Match.com tries to get around this by basing recommendations on people’s activity and actions rather than solely on their answers to the questionnaires.  (from Bernard Marr’s article, Can Big Data Find Your Next Valentine?)

Using sensor data in combination with other data sets has great potential for learning about employee behaviour and providing insight on organisational and business choices.  A natural next step is to link our employee data with our customer data.

Designing a better Customer AND Employee Experience

Many organisations are experimenting with using sensor data to understand customers’ behaviour.  Amazon have plenty of online data on customers, but this is a challenge for high street retailers.  There is a movement by retailers to gather data about in-store shoppers’ behaviour, using video surveillance and signals from their smartphones and apps to learn information as varied as their sex, how many minutes they spend in a particular aisle and how long they look at merchandise before buying it. 

Another futuristic scenario from retail…

30% of your shop sales employees agree to wear the sociometry badges.   Over a few months, you gradually test your hypotheses, run experiments and work out how to increase sales, and gather more accurate information on customer preferences which positively influences the next fashion buying cycle.  Your employees start to see the benefits of the approach and more “opt-in”.  The cycle is positively reinforcing over time, prospective employees who are not comfortable don’t apply, you bring in new employees who get up to peak productivity quicker.  You roll-out this model through your 500 shops.  Customers are happier.  You beat the competition. You win.

Designing our customer experience based on insights from actual behaviour and linking to employee behaviours could reap great rewards for some organisations.   Or from an employee perspective, this would mean designing our employee experience based on insights from actual behaviour with customers.

From Quantified Self to Quantified Workplace

Quantified Self is the movement to incorporate technology into data acquisition on aspects of a person's daily life in terms of inputs (e.g. food consumed, quality of surrounding air), states (e.g. mood, arousal, blood oxygen levels), and performance (mental and physical).  It is a big industry, think Fitbit, Apple Watches etc.   BYOW – Bring your own Wearables is an emerging trend, see Putting Wearables to Work form Salesforce.com, which expects nearly 3x growth in wearables across the enterprise in the next two years.

The Quantified Self movement has a strong set of disciples, you are probably close to one.  The reported results are impressive in health, fitness, managing chronic disease, sleep, mood and habits.

My view is that if free wearables are offered on a voluntary basis in certain workplaces, you would get three broad groups, those with absolutely no interest, those interested for a while, and those who love the idea and utilise the tools.

Squaring The Circle

What happens when wearing tracking devices becomes compulsory for employees? 

We are already starting to hear about cases where capturing personal data on location has gone too far for employees.  For example the case of the woman in California fired after disabling here GPS on her work phone.  Another example was the outrage after The Daily Telegraph, in the UK, put sensors under the journalists desks.  Lesson learned – always get permission from employees first, especially when your employees are journalists!

In Dave Eggers novel, “The Circle”, a new employee called Mae joins the World’s most powerful and influential company. Imagine a mega-merger between Google, Facebook and Apple.  The Circle’s goal is to have all aspects of human existence, from voting to love affairs, flow through its portal, the sole portal in the World.  This is the same for all employees, including Mae.  This is where the ‘hairs on your back stand on end’ and we bring in an Orwellian sense of outrage!   The novel brings up some great questions about privacy, transparency and even identity. 

This type of data could be used unscrupulously by employers, “How well it is received by staff will probably entirely depend on the way it is used,” says Bernard Marr, an expert in data and analytics in business.  “If it is used as a disciplinary tool focused on the behaviour of individuals, it is sure to lead to resentment. But when utilised as a way to gain an overview of the company, it will probably generate fewer complaints – and more useful insights.”

So any whiff of dystopia and you lose.  You will not attract or keep employees.

The winning organisations will be those that empower the workforce, are transparent and share the benefits.

The Quantified Workplace will be introduced, but at the speed of employee trust.

Trust Trumps Technology

If we don’t have employee trust, then there will be a backlash on using more extensive personal employee data.

Frederic Laloux describes the future of management in his RSA interview, “How to Become a Soulful Organisation”.  The future of management will definitely not be based on a time and measures study, the focus will be to empower purposeful teams to make the right decisions.

If we don’t have trust or empowered employees, all we will have is Digital Taylorism – a modern version of “scientific management” that threatens to dehumanise the workplace.

This would be a great mistake.   Instead we should provide employees with tools to manage their work, themselves and their machines more effectively.

We need to ditch Industrial Age thinking.  Organisations will thrive if they empower employees to make the right decisions and provide meaningful work.  The idea of the Quantified-Self is about self-improvement.   Whoever gets to the Quantified Workplace with a willing workforce will reap the rewards.  The rewards will be enormous – with greater insight on customer and employee behaviour.

The winners will not be those who enable the technology, but those who construct a new contract with employees, based on trust.

Finally, we catch up with Jo…

“Jo gets taken home from the office in her BUG driverless car and reviews a positive day with Sirius.  She approves an AmazonDrone delivery so her fridge will be topped up before she gets home.  Later on, she puts her feet up, selects an immersive movie, opens a bottle of wine and then the most satisfying task of the day – she reaches for her smartphone and presses the OFF button.”

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HR Robots: Transformers in Disguise?

Transformers-Robots-In-Disguise-San-Diego-Comic-Con-2015-Exclusive-Trailer

At HR Tech Europe last year I was fortunate to meet a very nice robot, called Oscar, who works for Oracle.

In ‘speaking’ to the Robot, I noticed it’s intelligence was limited by the human who was hiding behind the conference stand using a microphone.  It dawned on me that it passed the Turing Test, but in reverse.  As you know, the Turing Test, is a test of a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour indistinguishable from that of a human.  So, the reverse Turing Test, is a test of a human’s ability to tell if a robot is really human?

According to McKinsey, the automation of Knowledge Work will have an economic impact of between $5 to $7 trillion dollars by 2020.  (see  “Disruptive technologies: Advances that will transform life, business, and the global economy”  which is an excellent 176 page PDF report)

In their book, ‘The Second Machine Age  – Work, Progress and Prosperity in a time of Brilliant Technologies’ McAfee & Brynjolfsson, explain that the ‘first machine age’ gave rise to the modern discipline of management; companies hired armies of managers to co-ordinate the workers who operated the machines, and to organise supply chains and distribution systems.  The ‘second machine age’ will reconfigure the discipline: much of the work of bosses, from analysing complex data to recruiting staff and setting bonuses, will be automated.  The impact on society of this and the age of “peak-jobs” is one for the economists, futurists and gulp……..politicians.  (see for example  “Intelligent” robots threaten millions of jobs warns Ed Balls )

However smart machines impact us right now.

Google’s “human-performance analytics group” uses algorithms to decide which interview techniques are best at choosing good employees, and to optimise pay.

Robots in literature and movies have been used to project our greatest fears. Karel Capek’s R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots) (1921) – is credited with coining the term “robot”, which in its original Czech, “robota” means forced labour, and is derived from “rab”, meaning “slave.”

In the context of the automation of work, the visceral fear is not having a job or livelihood, but what we are talking about here is not so much CP30, but rather the general adoption of “smart-machines” replacing traditional white-collar work.

So what is the impact of Robots on HR ?

Firstly, the ongoing transformation of the workforce enabled by technology means our HR strategies are looking increasingly out of date.  We can guess that there may be less workers, probably different contracts of employment and definitely different skills required.  So our annual performance reviews and engagement surveys in a workforce full of freelancers, working 24 X 7 across the globe is looking very last century.

Secondly, even more HR transactional work itself has the potential to be automated.

When we talk about Robots in HR, what we really mean is Robotic Process Automation (RPA).

What is RPA ?

Robotic process automation (RPA) is the application of technology that allows employees in a company to configure computer software or a “robot” to capture and interpret existing applications for processing a transaction, manipulating data, triggering responses and communicating with other digital systems.

What does RPA really look like?

RPA in practice covers process automation, IT support and management and automated assistants.

An ideal set of circumstances in which to apply RPA are rules-based, repeated and standardised work activities.

So in HR, RPA lends itself well to core HR data administration using a central ERP system, payroll, on-boarding and off-boarding.

I have written about the impact of cloud technology on HR and the need for HR to standardise its processes to utilise new SaaS Technology,  “Will HR in the Cloud kill HR Outsourcing?” and Phil Fersht followed up with his slam dunk article, “HR in the Cloud: It won’t kill HRO, but it may kill what’s left of dysfunctional HR”.

There is a trend of reducing HR work, particularly transactional work, and I see RPA as a continuation of this trend.

When we review a HR function, we look at all HR work activity with different lenses.  So for HR work that is not subsumed by HR in the Cloud, we now look to see whether we can eliminate, automate or outsource – and now RPA can play a key role here in automation.

What are the benefits for HR ?

Howard H Nelson, Founder and Managing Director of Honhr Ltd, writing on the Genfour Blog,  suggests the following :-

“RPA will initially make significant in-roads into the transactional HR activities and eventually become the feeder of business intelligence into the higher-end activities and will impact all processes.  Robotic costs are already massively beneficial when compared to equivalent full-time employees (£2,000-3,000 of robot power can displace £20,000-30,000 of employee costs) the maths of the new proposition have already made a paradigm shift. “

See also my interview with Hayley Lange at Genfour, "Where does RPA sit in the wider HR transformational landscape?"

The term ‘Robot’ is probably not helpful, and may fall by the wayside after a few years.  However RPA will fill a gap in current HR Models until we all move to the promised land of HR in the Cloud with easy to use HR Technology.

The implication for HR and future Operating Models is that we often look at areas of HR which are core and strategic; those that need to be kept in house and those areas which could be outsourced.  Now we have a new string to our bow – which activities can we give to robots?

Maybe robots will turn out to be better guides than your humble consultant, but surely that’s taking it too far !

Get in touch and let me know what you discover @AndySpence and #HRTechWorld, and I will hopefully see you in London or Paris in 2016!

This post was orginally posted on the HR Tech Europe Blog as a guest post.

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Workday Service Partners – Overview of European Market

Workday Service Partners Europe

The Workday Rising Europe 2015 roadshow is kicking off in Dublin this week – a melting pot of existing customers, prospects and Workday partners.  One things for sure there will be plenty of HR Technology craic.

This article looks at the European Workday Service Partner ecosystem, provides some independent analysis of the market and some useful links for those thinking of moving to Workday.

So, why am I writing this article?  I have been involved in over 20 transformation programmes in the last 15 years, and nearly all of them involved HR Technology.  My particular focus is to help organisations develop smarter HR Operating Models aligned to business goals.  New waves of technological innovation has meant for the first time business needs are lagging technological capabilities.  See my article for HR Tech Europe Blog – “HR in a Time of Brilliant Technologies”, however when assessing the impact of new technology on HR, we sometimes get dazzled by the ‘glare’.  Workday has been a real catalyst for transforming HR.  One feature of selecting Workday as your HR technology system is that you have to work with an authorised Workday Service Provide, although there are good reasons for this, we think “how you implement” and “who with” should be a major consideration when selecting HR software.

To start with, we should say, we like Workday and what it has achieved in helping to transform HR. However, it’s role as a HR transformer is not because the functionality of the software blows away earlier generations, but also because it has risen on the wave of technological changes such as mobile, cloud and better integration.

There are three other reasons, we think why Workday is a true HR transformer.

1 – Workday’s main success has been to pitch successfully to the C-Suite.  By raising enthusiasm for great people management, HR has had another go at making the case for workforce transformation after some patchy results in the last 20 years.

2 – Implementing major new software usually requires a business case to the Board, and this has led to HR having to provide assurance that HR has an operating model that is fit for the future.  A new system has often triggered a review of what we do in HR to support the business, the structures, skills and ways of working. 

3 – Every Workday customer gets the same software, and this has forced HR to simplify and streamline processes.  The upshot has been that after making the case to invest in our people management infrastructure, HR has been able to focus more on business priorities whether that is developing talent, sales effectiveness or productivity.

 

In going through the process of choosing the best HR system to suit the requirements of your business, you will have considered some of Workday’s competitors :- SuccessFactors, Cornerstone, Meta4, Fairsail, FinancialForce.com, ADP, Ceridian, Oracle and MS Excel (joking!)

Whichever software you select, a key consideration is choosing the right implementation partner, in terms of cost, quality and risk management and ultimately successful business outcomes.   In our post, How to Earn your HR Cloud Tattoo, I shared some tips to consider when implementing your cloud-based HR system.  This included “Make sure you check out suitable partners before you select the software as this will significantly influence the pricing for your project.”

Once the HR Technology selection decision has been made, the next step is to find an authorised Workday Service Partner.  This is not necessarily a problem, but buyers should line up their preferred partner before signing the Workday contract.  This is important as the success of your Workday implementation will depend on the quality of the service partner, and it is worth thinking about this before you sign the contract.  We have also noticed it is harder to get good independent advice for buyers.  Analysts, well they analyse…Consultants provide advice, but also have big Workday practices – they know the product but have a clear vested interest, and Workday themselves are trying to create a healthy service partner ecosystem.  This involves supporting new entrants into the market and ensuring the quality of deployment is high. 

Anyone who has earnt their “HR Cloud Tattoo”, knows “putting in a HR system” doesn’t “transform HR” or improve the “workforce capability” despite some of the sales pitches I have come across.  Improving workforce capability will only start once the system is stabilised, the new operating model is working and leaders confidently empower managers to manage effectively.  This can take years, not a few months.

A view on the European Workday Service Partner market

For those who have selected Workday, your next step will be to choose one of the official Service Partners.

For customers, this is generally good news.  On the one hand you can be assured that service partners work to a stringent standard, that the software will be deployed using consistent service standards and every consultant is Workday certified.

On the flipside, you have a more limited group of service partners to choose from.  Also, although each partner is reputable, it is more difficult to get independent advice within this context on scope, commercials, programme management issues with Workday. To be blunt, some of the service partners, as you will see below, rely 100% on Workday for their revenues – they are not going to bite the hand that feeds them.

The market for certified Workday consultants is hot!  There is high demand from customers, but a low supply of experienced certified Workday consultants.  As the Workday sales machine does its thing, competition for consultants will increase and so will salaries – potentially pushing up the implementation bill for customers.

Workday is growing fast, but is still not profitable.  The cost per employee per year will not be going down, even if the competition mentioned above come snapping at their heels.  

The market is changing all the time and will evolve in the next few years which is very important for Workday’s long-term success.  As you can see the Workday European Service Provider market has some familiar names, and some more you will not have heard of.  We have characterised the 17 European providers into 5 different sections :- from the Big 4 and Tech Titans, HR Heritage providers, to the general Cloud experts and Workday specialists.  We will continue to see M&A activity in this space.   The Big 4 and Tech Titans (and outsourcers) will make a move for their smaller competitors as the best way to acquire certified Workday consultants and buy a chunk of market share.

I would also expect one or two of the US focused providers to enter the European market. For example, one of the largest Workday Service Providers in the US, OneSource Virtual, has recently opened a centre in Derry, Northern Ireland, so will be growing its capability in Europe.

I could plot the Workday partners on a 2 by 2 matrix with ‘completion of vision’ against ‘ability to execute’ and show you how many certified consultants each provider has, but I not sure this will help you find the right partner given your requirements and the maturity of this market.  Instead, I would characterise the market into 5 segments.

The Big 4

Well I am not sure if its Big 4 or 5 these days, it doesn’t look like Ernst & Young are a major player in this space for now anyway…

Accenture – 2nd largest service partner globally according to HfS, in terms of certified consultants.  Can take on the larger, more complex programmes

Deloitte – with 120 Workday customers, it is probably the largest service partner globally

KPMG –  showed ambition by buying Towers Watson’s Workday practice this year

PwC – have over 200 Workday professionals globally

Pros – they have big pockets and seem committed to this market.  They have a breadth of offerings in technology and consulting, and their Account Manager probably plays golf with your CIO and CFO.

Cons – they can turn any project into a massive industry fuelled by an expensive army of fresh-faced analysts.  Relatively expensive, and unless you are Unilever you will not be at the top of the queue for the best consultants.

Question to Service Partner – “Your sales director is *very nice*, but please can I interview the actual team I will be working with?”

The Tech Titans

Like the Big 4, the Tech Titans are well known and survivors. They can work on a mega scale and all keen to develop longer-term outsourcing solutions. (not sure whether Accenture fits in here or Big 4…)

Cap Gemini – European tech giant with HQ in Paris

CSC – A global leader in providing technology enabled business solutions and services

HPE – Hewlett Packard Enterprise, who recently split with HP Inc

IBM – recently bought Meteorix, probably the 3rd biggest SP in terms of Global Workday certified consultants

Pros – they will be on your short-list if they already run some of your tech infrastructure, so you will know how they work to some extent.  If you are thinking of implementing Workday then outsourcing or considering BPaaS then I am sure the tech titan will be interested in negotiating.  (see my article for CIPD on Will the Cloud have a Silver Lining for HR Outsourcing? )

Cons – not usually a great fit for smaller organisations as you will be down their pecking order, but some are trying to build up their practice quickly so worth considering if they are keen. 

Question to Service Partner – “What do you mean you can’t come to a meeting in Berlin because of your Q4 travel freeze!?”

 

HR Heritage

So these guys have been doing your pension and benefits admin since 1953 and know everything about HR and have some very good consultants.

AON – showed their commitment to this market by buying Kloud this year, also big player in HR Outsourcing

Mercer – one of the smaller Workday SPs, with a wealth of knowledge in pensions, investment and workforce

Pros – depth and breadth of HR knowledge.

Cons – Towers Watson had their Workday practice bought by KPMG…wonder whether Mercer can compete with the Big 4 and Tech Titans?

Question to Service Partner – “Can we talk about your Benefits plans? (only joking!)”

 

The Cloud Specialists

These two are regarded as expert at cloud implementations.

Appirio – very experienced with 900+ enterprises moved to the cloud with Salesforce.com, Google and Workday

Kainos – 750 staff with 150 global customers

Pros – both have good reputations and know their cloud deployment techniques

Cons – will have less breadth of offerings as Big 4 and Heritage HR

Question to Service Partner – “How do you stop your team being poached by the Big 4 and Tech Titans?”

 

The Workday Specialists

These service partners live and breathe Workday and have a symbiotic relationship with the mother lode.  Some have local payroll expertise.

Ataraxis – based in Belgium and know European payroll

Cloudator – A cloud-based multi-country payroll system for the Nordics

DayNine Consulting – European clients include Cambridge University Press, TIP Trailer Services and Global Blue

EverBe – Based in Paris.  HR and local payrolls for France, Benelux, Italy and Spain

Realright – specialist with focus on the German market

Pros – might fit your niche perfectly e.g. German/Nordic payroll and probably cheaper than the Big 4.

Cons – they are specialists so less able to provide broader technology and consulting services, also good candidates for takeover by bigger fish.

Question to Service Partner – “So tell me, how many share options do you have then?”  

This was a short overview of the main players which you might find useful, and some tips and to consider before choosing your Workday Service Partner, but if you have decided to use Workday here are some of the considerations when selecting a Workday Service Partner:-

– Consider the fit with your organisation and team – if you have 1,700 employees you will be way down the pecking order for the Big 4 and Tech Titans who might send their intern down to meet you for scoping meetings!

– Are you considering outsourcing, or BPaaS as an option?  Then it’s worth sticking with the same partner through the whole process if you can and evaluating the vendors outsourcing capability up front.

– It’s important to consider and see their proprietary Tools and Methods developed.  The winners in this market will develop the best tools that consultants want to work with and give best results and customer satisfaction.

– Workday will often recommend a particular service partner to work with, this is worth listening to, but their interests (keeping the ecosystem healthy) might be different to yours, so also prepare a shortlist to evaluate.

– It’s crucial that the consultants working on your project have a good understanding of the particular regulations in your geographies.  This could mean for your organisation, the 20 deployments in France and Belgium are more important than the 200 deployments in the US.

– Make sure you meet the actual implementation team.  As well as Workday experience, look for broader HR/consulting experience.  Will they get on with your team?

– Sector experience – Workday is building up its credentials in different sectors in Europe but isn’t there yet….check the Service Partners understand your industry?

– A general point, from our experience the cloud service partner can probably get the system up and running quicker than your organisation can make the required business decision and adapt to the change.  Make sure you have good governance, programme management and excellent change and communications skills in your team.

– Ask to speak to at least 2 or 3 customers in your industry/geography for references.

If you have already earnt your HR Cloud Tattoo, then please share your experience in selecting a Service Partner.  I would also welcome any tips and suggestions from Service Providers themselves, directly or on Twitter @AndySpence.

If you would like this article in a nice PDF format, then let us know and we promise not to charge you $1,295!  And enjoy Dublin if you are at Workday Rising this week!

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HR Change and Transformation 2014

This has to be the most interesting time to be working at the intersection of HR, organisation development and technology. 
 
Leading change in 2014 includes responding to growing markets, geographical expansion, mergers & acquisitions and cross-cultural leadership across 5 generations. The importance of effective leadership, talent management and high employee engagement has never been so great.
 

There is a lot of buzz around technology as a driver for change in areas such as talent identification and development and workforce productivity. Its use can span all areas of HR and management, from working out which candidates are most likely to be our top future sales performers, to providing tools that enable a manager to monitor performance of a global project team. At the same time we have massive changes in our workforce, from the rise of the freelancer economy, to skills shortages and demand for 24 X 7 collaboration.

We can be proud that HR has been a pioneer in adopting many emerging technologies such as Cloud applications like WorkdayOracle Fusion and SuccessFactors. Social Media in HR has in LinkedIn a high profile corporate leader, and the adoption of Mobile is changing the recruitment landscape.   HR also has the advantage of having change management skills to ensure successful implementations.

At the HR Change & Transformation 2014 Conference, we will hear from speakers who will showcase HR innovation happening in their organisations.  Speakers from different industries and sectors will share their insight and expertise in Leadership, Change & Culture, from identifying talent to developing and integrating a new generation of leaders.   Effective change management is a blend of the right change strategy combined with getting the small things right. We will hear examples of how different organisations have achieved this.

We are also at an HR Strategy crossroads, where many of our HR strategies are undergoing radical change. Some of them were developed 50 years ago, when business and society were very different to how they are now. In addition, the set of external drivers which moved us to the HR operating models of the 90s are changing fast, so now is a good time to re-assess.  Many current HR operating models are not fit for the future given the transformational change going on in our economy and workplace.
 
In some organisations, HR needs  to transform itself first before it can lead change and transform organisations. In our Talent & Transformation stream, we will hear examples of how organisations have transformed HR to delivery business goals.   HR Transformation is not really about HR. Although HR is the focus, the outcome is about improving People Management in organisations. HR is well positioned at the crux of workforce, productivity and human beings.  HR Transformation is really about “Workforce Transformation” with HR making the rallying call.  With new agile HR operating models, we need to think about what skills capabilities HR will need for better performance Management and business integration.
 
For successful HR Transformation, the trick is for HR to empower managers, in Technology, Tools & Insight. We will hear about the rise of Mobile, Social and Gamification and the benefits of Analytics in HR. Fundamentally, HR does not yet need Big Data; it needs Big Questions. What problems do we need to solve in HR? We will hear from speakers who have solved business problems using analytics and a new set of tools.
 
Over time, Software-as-a-Service will make us standardise our HR processes – because we will have to use the systems as they are, not configure them to our existing processes.
 
This is an important time in the  history of people management with the convergence of technology innovation, workforce demographics and  economic restructuring.
 
In 2014, we are too busy to care about being invited to the top table. We now have an opportunity to create our own table and invite who we want!
 
This conference will showcase many examples of HR innovation some of which you will adopt in the future. Enjoy the sharing and let us know what examples of HR innovation you will be speaking about in 2015.
 
I am chairing one of the streams at this event and will also be facilitating a Pre-Conference Workshop “7 Steps to Transform HR” – a pragmatic and practical approach to transformation using strategies that have worked with real HR case studies.   A 10% discount code is available for our HR Transformer Blog readers, CT14AS9.  Be great to see you there! #HRCT14
 
Andrew Spence
HR Transformation Director
Glass Bead Consulting
June 2014
 
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Will HR in the Cloud kill HR Outsourcing ?

Will HR in the Cloud destroy HR Outsourcing ? HR Transformer Blog
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Will ‘HR in the Cloud’ kill the HR Outsourcing industry  ?
 
Or, are the claims of the HR Technology industry in ‘Cloud Cuckoo Land’ ?
 
In Aristrophanes play, ‘The Birds’, written in 414 BC, “Cloud Cuckoo Land” was an unrealistically idealistic state where everything is perfect.
 
In our 2013 HR play, Ms HR Vendor helps the trusting Ms HR Director erect a perfect HR operating model in the clouds.
 
For HR Directors, this has the appeal of ‘killing two birds with one stone’.
 
Firstly outsource chunks of your HR services on a standardised platform.  Secondly, hand over responsibility for your HR systems to the same vendor.  
 
This service has been called BPaaS or ‘HRO in the cloud' and this report from Gartner, is worth reading on the topic –  From ‘BPO to BPaaS: HR Outsourcing calls for the cloud.
 
Will SaaS melt HR processes ? 
At the recent 2013 HRO Today Forum, in London, Mike Ettling, former CEO of largest global HR Outsourcing company, NGA HRcommented that the demand for HRO will decrease over the next few years.  In Mike’s view this is because  :-
 
“In the last 2 years we have seen the phenomenal rise of enterprise ready SaaS solutions in the HR industry.  The game changing impact of SaaS is the fact that SaaS is melting Business Processes.
 
In the past we designed our system around the process, now we have to design our process around the system.  There will be less scope for customisation.”
 
From this perspective, there will be less HR work in general and less outsourced work.  Not a good signal for the growth of the HRO industry.
 
For those interested, Matt Charney from Recruiting Blogs covered this panel debate well, in Transaction to Transformation: The Next Generation of Outsourcing  
 
HR SaaS – Practical Lessons from HR Buyers
In a separate session, Julie Fernandez from analysts ISG, provided some insights from HR Buyers, typically clients with > 10,000 employees. 
 
 
Amongst the trends and themes I picked up from Julie, were :-
 

– HR Buyers are cautious, ‘letting the dust settle’ on SaaS providers as they review their current HR Operating Models and future needs. 

– The rise and rise of Workday has actually breathed life into the HRO market – NGA HR, IBM and AON Hewitt are implementing or have HRO contracts using Workday software.

– HRO Buyers want both SaaS and services together, however are not willing to lose portal, chat, contact centre solutions that have been developed over last 10 years.  Expect HRO providers to develop solutions in this space. 

– There is a 15-20% HRO penetration level for orgs with >10,000 employees and there has been more new buyers in last 8 months than previous 2 or 3 years

– According to ISG, it seems HRO is not dead yet and in fact SaaS will actually stimulate market.

One of the HRO vendors told me that the Workday (SaaS) HRO deals are certainly smaller in size, which does tend to support Mike’s view on the impact of SaaS – it does reduce the HR work required.
 
Are the claims of the HR Technology industry in ‘Cloud Cuckoo Land’ ?
It is natural to have some healthy scepticism about the claims of the HR Technology providers on the latest generation of HR systems. (especially if you’ve had as many sleepless nights as me working on Transformation Programmes over the last 20 years!).
 
Haven’t we heard these promises from the HR Technology industry before ?    The claims are remarkably similar to the promise of ERP systems back in the 1990s.
 
That the new generation of software will be rolled out to willing managers enabling them to be more productive, more self-sufficient and  will help them manage their teams more efficiently.
 
Did the technology deliver the promises? Well generally, no.
 
One of the reasons that HR is no more strategic than back in 1995 is that HR Technology has not delivered the promises.  There are lots of other reasons why, and I refer to them in other posts “How to avoid HR Technology bogeys” and “Is your operating model fit for the future?”.
 
Part of the problem is that the software ultimately has to be used by those pesky human beings.  So we need good communications, training and support.
 
Isn’t SaaS or HR in the Cloud, just the ‘next wave’ of HR systems I hear you say?  We expect better functionality and usability in each new release, and HR Directors or managers don’t really care where the servers are located.
 
What is it about SaaS in particular that will drive such process standardisation compared to just another release of software ?  We still need to persuade employees to work differently. 
 
One of the great benefits of going with a SaaS solution is we do not have the expensive and time-consuming customisation fudges.
 
You get what you are given in terms of functionality and then configure for your organisation.  There will be a need to use the system provided for your HR Processes, and so there will still be change management required.  This will reduce the HR Service cycle times and the HR administration support needed – which is all good news as these savings can be spent on more value add activities.
 
Is SaaS a catalyst for more or less HRO ?
In my opinion, The 'size of the pie' will decrease (not as much as tech firms say) but the HRO slice will increase
 
In other words, there will be less work overall due to the benefits of implementing standard process, however, the proportion of work outsourced will stay the same or increase.
 
The drivers for RPO and HR Outsourcing will still be there.  Standard software will make transitions easier with consistent service levels – increasing the appeal of outsourcing.
 
Over the next couple of years we will see lots of activity with reviews of HR Operating Models, implementation of new HR systems, and more HR Outsourcing contracts. (and hopefully roughly in that order!)
 
The Workday marketing machine will get to your Board and you will need to have worked out your plan.
 
So as the 2013 HRO Today Forum ended, the HRO industry could be heard to mutter a collective breath of relief and echo Mark Twain,
 
"The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated". 
    
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