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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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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Five themes from HR Tech World Spring 2016, London

HR Tech World Spring 2016 London    The 2nd HR Tech World was held in London’s ‘ExCel’ centre – oh the sweet irony, and a pertinent reminder of how far we have come!  Here is my view of some of the themes emerging from the conference.

This was an excellent conference with good speakers, a mix of old and new and enough space for good conversations which is what the event is all about.

But first things first, here are all the presentations from HR Tech Congress in one place which is a fantastic resource to flick through.

Software is Eating HR

John Sumser declared “The end of the HR enterprise software era” at HR Tech in Amsterdam 2013,  we have now automated pretty much all we can.  Software continues to feast on HR, starting with the horrible bits we don’t like and leaving the tasty morsels to our managers and HR people and change superstars – well that’s the theory anyway.

Lots of orgs have moved to the Cloud, so we are accumulating lots of lessons and methods to internalise before embarking on our cloud journey.  There was a whole steam dedicated to user adoption for example with presentations from Rolls Royce and Cushman & Wakefield.  Before moving to the Cloud, give this a read, How to Earn your HR Cloud Tattoo, and maybe share your case-study, and tattoo, at the next HR Tech Congress?

Sierra-Cedar kindly shared their research findings and presentation on their, 2015-2016 HR System Survey.  Some findings caught my eye, including:

 

The ‘Big 2’ tech providers dominate in EMEA with HRMS adoption 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 some delegates noting the presence of CoreHR and Workday for example.  The ‘Big 2’ have their legacy customers, the onus is on the challengers to prise them away and build their market share.

The average cost per employee per year for SaaS for large companies (>10,000 employees) is $116 and for smaller companies (<2,500 employees) this cost is $394.

Wearable Technology – 16% of orgs in the survey are using or evaluating. This is an interesting trend to watch which I highlighted in my recent article Quantified Workplace: Trust vs Technology? 55% using wearables believing the benefit to be “increased workforce productivity”.

Rethinking Organisations

Josh Bersin summarised Deloitte’s research “92 percent of companies believe that redesigning the organization is very important or important, making it No. 1 in ranked importance.  Companies are decentralizing authority, moving toward product- and customer-centric organizations, and forming dynamic networks of highly empowered teams that communicate and coordinate activities in unique and powerful ways.”

This is music to my ears! For too long, companies have spent too much time tweaking round the edges of on initiatives such as employee engagement.  This is often a distraction from solving the root cause of business problems and the looking at the big picture.

As we move to new business models and organisational structures, we will need to redesign HR, and the software that supports this.   This will quickly supercede some of the current HR debates around talent, performance management and employee engagement.

The winners will be those that embrace diversity

Diversity was a theme from this conference, including a presentation from Martha Lane Fox, who made a powerful case for UK plc to take a lead on the internet as a cause for good.  But we have some work to do…

Heidi Spirgi from the Marcus Buckingham Company shared research that should tie your stomach in a knot, with her presentation, Women & Technology, the findings speak for themselves :

Currently only 17% of people working in tech in the UK are women

AND

UK is experiencing a digital skills gap that is forecasted to reach 745,000 workers by 2017

60% of college graduates are women in Europe

The first good reason for diversity is fairness, allowing all member of society to flourish.

The second good reason for diversity, is that if your organisation does not pull its ideas from the widest talent pool to solve problems, then you are likely to lose competitively.

The concept of Diversity of Thought and this paper is worth reading.  As Dorothy Dalton has said, “how can we talk about gender as a ‘diversity’ issue when 50% of the population are women, it’s a balance issue.”  Lots more we can do here…

Challenges with People Analytics

There were some presentations showing success in the use of people analytics to solve business challenges such as determining office location, retention, absenteeism and successful recruiting in the Smart Data stream.

This year, the percentage of companies that believe they are fully capable of developing predictive models doubled, from 4 percent in 2015 to 8 percent in 2016.

This is a hot area, but in danger of not fulfilling its massive hype due to structural issues we have in HR such as skills, data, systems and robust frameworks.

Using a house analogy, there is no point investing in smart sensing technology when the plumbing and heating don’t work.  I will be writing more about the barriers to People Analytics in subsequent articles.

Startups disrupting HR?

The start-ups seemed to be even busier than previous conferences with well attended sessions and stands.   The main areas were in employee engagement, recruiting, learning, employee feedback, onboarding & employer branding.

The winner of the competition was Arctic Shores who use science and games to identify high potential millennials.  Here is a useful list of the start-ups from Faye Holland, “#DisruptHR – who will you make a beeline to meet?”

See you in Paris!

This was a guest blog for HRN Blog,"Five themes from HR Tech World Spring 2016, London"

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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. 

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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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How to earn your HR Cloud Tattoo

HR in the Cloud Tattoo - Copyright Glass Bead Consulting

The relentless move of HR to the cloud is ongoing, with over 2000 organisations now using or moving to the Big 3 software providers.

And HR software in the cloud is not just for larger organisations, for example in the UK, Moorepay currently serves over 8,000 SMB businesses in the cloud for payroll, HR and compliance services.

The good news for HR is that the HR technology industry has accumulated a useful body of knowledge for those about to embark on this journey.

From my perspective having worked on over 20 different HR change programmes, HR in the Cloud, is a major catalyst for transforming HR.

Organisations have been forced to standardise their processes and procedures so they can use the software, as there is no customisation with SaaS (Software as a Service).  This brings simplification and focus on more valuable HR services.  Also, making the case to the Board for investment in HR software requires a well thought through business case, and gives confidence that the HR Operating Model is fit for the future.

So if software is forcing HR to rethink how it operates (the tail wags the dog) – who cares if we get positive outcomes?

It is crucial for HR to get this transition right, collectively we have plenty of scars to show after some painful ERP implementations in the last 20 years.

As an industry we need to ensure we pass on our learning and experience to others, and conferences like the HR Tech World Congress, this year in Paris, provide a good forum to do that.

With organisations moving to the cloud we should learn from those who have “been there, done that, got the Cloud Tattoo”.

If you are a HR leader, thinking about moving or in the process of moving to the cloud, then this article is meant for you.

Once you have selected the software, now comes the hard bit – planning a successful cloud technology implementation.

Here are some tips that you might not hear at the vendor pitch.

1 – It’s the people, stupid…

You might be putting in a new system, but to be successful you will need people to work in a different way.  The more thought you can put into the project  team, future HR team, new skills and relationships the better.  Sounds obvious, but it’s easy to lose focus with contracts, Board presentations and enthusiastic account managers to deal with.

The project team needs to have a good mix of people who understand the new technology, those with a vested interest in a successful implementation, and those who have a good understanding of business needs and nuances.

Do you have the right skills required for the project and if not, how will you fill the gaps?

The skills needed to manage HR are different to the skills needed to transform HR.

You will need storytellers, analysts, designers, trainers, pragmatists and optimists (contact me for this job description!)

Work out how you will facilitate knowledge transfer between the technologists and your operational team.

Ensure that when you set the budget and select the programme team, there are enough resources allocated to communications, change and training expertise – but you work in HR, so you know this right?

Do you have a business sponsor?

This is essential to provide guidance, support and credibility to the changes you are making.  Preferably the business sponsor is someone who stands to benefit from the change, and doesn’t work in HR.

William Tincup and Jeremy Ames, give some advice  “Catalog the ways in which your users will “love” the new software”

Do you have a group of fans who “love” the proposed changes?

These people will be crucial, so nurture their enthusiasm and lavish them with early reviews, and benefits.  Customer user groups should be established up front and this will help you with #2 Decisions, Decisions, Decisions (see below).

One tip from Michael Custers, SVP Strategy & Marketing at NGA Human Resources,

“apply some design thinking around ’employee experience’ – the cloud greatly improves the user experience of HR self-service applications. This is an opportunity to improve the touch points between employee and employer and puts the user/employee at the heart of your HR service delivery ‘engine’.”

You may have selected and costed the software, but have you done the same for your implementation partner?

Make sure you check out suitable partners before you select the software as this will significantly influence the pricing for your project.

With system integrators, insist on meeting the team who are being proposed for the project. Having worked on both sides of the client/vendor fence, I know scheduling pre-contract is tricky.  It is sometimes very difficult to say which of your team will be working for which client before the contract has been signed.     However, your project should not be a glorified training course for expensive ‘green-beans’ !

Have you taken the IT Director out to dinner yet?

The way we deliver HR is being revolutionised, and it’s similar in IT.  With SaaS, we might not have to worry so much about the hardware, but it does throw up a whole load of other technology issues e.g. data security, existing infrastructure, mobile access and support that will require you to have IT on your side.  The relationship between HR and IT is changing, but working together you can be even more effective in instigating change.

2 – Decisions, decisions, decisions….

You have made THE big decision – which software to buy. Now you now need to create the right environment to be a ‘decision-making factory’.

As Peter Drucker said, “making good decisions is a crucial skill at every level”.

Why? At this point the last thing you need is any delay, with deployment consultants on the project – every delayed day burns money.

As you get into delivery, you will have to make a number of decisions along the classic project management triangle of ‘Time vs Scope vs Cost’.

For example what happens if the implementation budget is cut or there are time delays?   Ensure you have a robust governance framework agreed from the onset with a Business Sponsor to help iron out issues, decide who will be on your Governance Board and what their role will be.

In my experience, the big time consumers are not always the big technology decisions, but changing the working practices, rules and processes and the hundreds of smaller decisions, such as ;

– How will recruitment approvals be made in different parts of the business ?

– How will workplan harmonisation work?

– The finer details of the revamped intranet design?

The list goes on…..it’s worth keeping some kind of decision log so you can go back to the original vision and review design principles if needed (see #4 below Is your operating model fit for the future?).

3 – Don’t let the software sales team pitch to YOUR customers

Well of course they will, but you need to be very clear about the expectations that are being set with your internal business customers – this is your job, not theirs.

Worst case scenario? A demo with a short film showing smiling, happy software users – like a scene from the “Truman Show”.  What the software vendors say will of course be true, but they might not (have time to) explain the effort, broken bones and cost to get to that dream state!

Make sure you manage YOUR customers expectations NOT the software account manager.

4 – Is your HR Operating Model fit for the future?

Make sure everyone is clear on why you are making this change, and how it supports your organisation vision. If it doesn’t – then STOP.

HR Operating Models are developing rapidly driven by technology, changing workforce demographics plus the insight that moving to a pre-defined model will not work. See these articles for more context Is Your Operating Model Fit for the Future?.

We need to apply our OD skills to deliver a HR model that works for our organisation, the system should support this.

Ensure the Board approve the vision and a simple set of design principles.

Develop the elevator pitch, to motivate and train up new team members.    Unfortunately, for large global projects, by the time the system is fully operational, the HR Strategy, and HR Operating required to support it might have changed anyway.  The new system will need to support future workforce needs and future HR structures whether you have Business Partners, Shared Services or use outsourced providers.

In this article from Diginomica, Gerard Hussey, VP HR Transformation at pharmaceuticals giant GSK (GlaxoSmithKline), mentions,

All the issues we had post go-live were around the end-to-end service model. So if you only focus on the technology, you’re dead.” 

 

5 – Build out your road map

By now you will have your trusty project plan, but you will also need something that moves beyond the duration of the project. When the project is over, the transformation is only in the early stages, how will you embed the changes into ‘business as usual’?

Jeremy Josephs, Sales Executive at HP for Workday and Outsourcing, gives some advice, “it’s essential to keep the momentum going after the first 90 days post go-live, make sure you have a plan in place to manage ongoing support and to reinforce the transformation goals.”

You will need the planners to be aware of the bigger picture, such as what other projects/programmes are going on that might impact your change?  What are the ongoing activities you need to plan around, for example, operational peaks and troughs, holidays?

The IT team will focus on the technology change, but how will old processes be phased out, as you introduce new HR services?

With cloud technology you can implement more quickly than in the past, sometimes the pace is above your organisations ability to change.  Try and factor this into your planning and expectation management.  Make sure you control the pace of change, not the technology provider.

Understand the known barriers before you start, there are plenty of lessons learned out there so make sure you can reel off the obvious ones and find a friend who has gone through the pain and earned their “Cloud Tattoo”.

 

Finally, clear your diary

You will have a project team and leader in place, but given that you are the HR Director, and know a lot about #1 “the people”, your expertise will be in demand.

You will have thought about how your organisation will make decisions effectively, but this will introduce just a little bit of process, meetings and review time.  Your management of the change will require you to sell the change to your managers, so if you are the evangelistic type of leader, you will be on the road a lot.  So clear the diary in the usual way.

Remember the 4 Ds – Drop, Delay, Delegate & Do

Finally, I hate to break it to you but even on successful implementation things will go wrong, sometimes really wrong.

So build up as much emotional and mental resilience as you can – you will need it!

As some old hands will realise, many of the considerations mentioned are not to do with Cloud models per se.   My point is that we should not forget the collective lessons learned and wisdom of past technology implementations.

For those who have been there, please share your tips and experience!

Tap me on the shoulder at HR Tech World Congress and I will show you my scars if you show me your cloud tattoo 😉

This article was originally published on the HR Tech World blog as a guest post.

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HR in a time of Brilliant Technologies

We are indeed living in a time of ‘Brilliant Technologies’.
 
I studied Cognitive Science & Artificial Intelligence back in the mid ‘90s. The multi-disciplinary researchers dreamt about natural language comprehension and powerful AI computing power.  Fast forward 20 years and they would be delighted to meet ‘Miss Siri and Mr Watson’.  

I am passionate about the impact of technology in organisations and have written about the role of automation in a HR Tech Europe blog article, ‘HR Robots: Transformers in Disguise?’ 

However, when assessing the impact of new technology on HR, we sometimes get dazzled by the ‘glare’.  The biggest impact of living in a time of ‘Brilliant Technologies’ on HR is not the cool tools, but the way technology transforms our economies and societies, changing the workforce skills needed in a globalised economy.
 
In our workforce we now see:
 
• Five generations working together in an ageing workforce – in 2020, nearly a third of the UK workforce will be over 50
• Freelancers working 24 / 7 across the globe – Harvard Business Review estimates 1.3 billion people will work virtually in the next few years
• The continued automation of knowledge workers – wiping out swathes of middle managers
 
There is a relentless push for organisations to survive and flourish in this competitive environment.  Since 2000, 52% of the Fortune 500 has disappeared, Professor Gary Hamel makes the prediction that 50% of the Fortune 500 today will no longer be with us in the next 10 years.
 
“Management 1.0 at its core is a mash-up of military command structures that go back thousands of years layered with the discipline of industrial engineering, which goes back maybe 120 years,”
 
He argues that survivors will need to move to Management 2.0.
 
“…a reboot where Values & Transparency replace Rules & Hierarchy and Fear.”
 
If our management structures are not suited for a digital age, the same principle applies to some of our HR people management practices.  For example, our annual performance reviews and engagement surveys in a workforce full of freelancers; working 24 / 7 across the globe is suddenly looking very ‘Management 1.0’.
 
We can now provide employees with better technology to manage their teams more effectively, such as tools that provide real-time feedback on performance and goals.
 
In this new digital age, people management practices and HR operating models will also be revolutionised.   Josh Bersin argues that ‘People Management is replacing Talent Management.’  
 
“Talent scarcity is still a problem, but engagement, empowerment, and environment are now the real issues companies face.”
 
What does this all mean for HR Technology?
 
“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”
Peter Drucker
 
In his speech at HR Tech Europe in 2013, John Sumser took the historical perspective – he noted that we are at the end of the HR enterprise software era.  The HR Technology industry has done its job well, and provided automated solutions for most HR processes.   In some cases we have calcified these obsolete management and HR processes from the last century.
 
We see the benefits of the cloud, mobile, analytics, robotic process automation and collaboration tools.  The adoption of HR Software in the Cloud in combination with mobile technology is a catalyst for HR to empower managers to improve workforce productivity.  
 
There is a steady move to migrate HR systems from on premise to SaaS (Software as a Service).  Along with the required HR process standardisation; this technology will reduce the total HR transactional effort with less HR administration support required.  Savings can be reallocated to strategic goals such as developing talent, with learning solutions and collaboration tools.  The new systems also allow better data quality over time and enable us to move from descriptive analytics, to predictive and prescriptive analytics where we can predict not only ‘when’ an event might happen, but also ‘why’.  
 
So the way we deliver people management is changing, driven by workforce, new business models and technological innovation.  HR structures, organisation, policies and processes are also in need of a review to ensure they are fit for the future.  The CIPD recently curated a series of 10 articles from leading thinkers such as Josh Bersin, Dave Ulrich, Ed Lawler, Nick Holley and others, on ‘Changing HR Operating Models’, which is worth a read.   
 
What can you do to determine whether your Technology and HR Operating Model is Fit for the Future ?  
 
Start by asking the following questions:
• Do your current HR practices deliver your organisational goals now and in the future?
• What will your HR model (services, skills, organisation) look like in the next few years and will your HR technology support this?
• What tools and solutions does your changing workforce require to achieve their goals?
I believe we are indeed living in a time of  ‘Brilliant Technologies’, but don’t be dazzled by the glare!
 
What will I be looking for at HR Tech Europe?
 
I am looking forward to the insightful conversations and presentations at the HR Tech Europe conference and aim to find examples of organisations that have found more agile ways of supporting engagement and improving performance to report on.
 
I am also really interested in hearing about the journeys that organisations have gone on to adopting “Brilliant Technologies” and capture the lessons learned.
 
Get in touch and let me know what you discover @AndySpence and #HRTechEurope, and I will hopefully see you in London or Paris in 2015!
 
This post was orginally posted on the HR Tech Europe Blog as a guest post.
 
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Will the Cloud have a Silver Lining for HR Outsourcing ?

Organisations have had to respond to the seismic shifts in the economy with the increased use of contractors, zero-hours contracts, interim resources, partnership arrangements, consultants and outsourcing to weather the storm. This process has also been mirrored in the HR world as HR directors scrutinise how to source current skills needed to deliver HR services.
 
Outsourcing started out as a necessity of 'doing more for less' and has increasingly become standard practice, with many organisations using outsourcing to drive efficiencies. However, before outlining why outsourcing might rise again, it is worth a quick refresher of its history and some of the lessons learned.
 
The birth of multi-process HR outsourcing came about in the late 1990s as part of the first wave of HR transformation, the goal of which was to spend more HR time helping to deliver organisational strategy and less HR time on administration. The tactics deployed involved tools for managers to do more people management and restructuring HR based on economies of scale. These included HR shared services and tactical outsourcing, and economies of scale with business partnering and specialist HR teams. Some of the enablers of these changes adopted ERP technology, corporate portals as well as the emergence of a multi-process HR outsourcing industry.
 
First wave of HRO – the early adopters
 
We all understood the logic of the first wave of HR outsourcing in 1999 – freeing up HR to focus on strategic aspects of the job. It is worth pointing out that outsourcing wasn't a new concept in HR, with most organisations already outsourcing their payroll as standard practice.
 
It was this desire for HR transformation that created ground-breaking global HR outsourcing deals, with Exult-BP and ePeopleserve (Accenture and BT).
 
The rationale for the 'buyer' organisations such as BP and BT was to use outsourcing to help drive transformation, including standardised HR services, reduced HR cost to serve and access to new innovations such as HR portal technology.
 
The thinking behind HRO vendors such as Accenture and Exult (eventually bought by AON Hewitt) was to build up a large global client portfolio and benefit from labour arbitrage by offshoring work to countries such as India. The economic case provided a client with 15–20% savings and the possibility of making a 15–20% margin over a ten-year contract.
 
A longer-term aim was to provide standard HR services using the same technology platform. However, the problem was that each client was taken on in a different state of standardisation, with a different configured HR system, which meant that the service was very much tailored to that organisation and couldn't easily be shared with other organisations – in other words, the antithesis of standardisation.
 
The results of this first wave of HR outsourcing were mixed for both client and vendor. As someone who was involved in one of the very first outsourcing projects, I found it exciting, but it caused many sleepless nights! I witnessed at first hand the trauma of moving the organisation to standardised services, HR service centres for clients and also restructuring HR with new roles such as business partners.
 
As David Ulrich, a professor at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business, reflected, 'Often the first pancakes or first batch of cookies do not come out well.'
 
Second wave of HRO – some vendor consolidation and indigestion
 
The second big wave of change in HRO contracts came around 2006, including Unilever-Accenture and Johnson & Johnson-Convergys. These didn't quite deliver our dream of a standardised multi-tenant service enabling each client to benefit from new innovations either. Instead, these services offered bespoke solutions, tailored to clients' demands and meeting the particular nuances of their HR operating models. They had some success; according to industry analysts, Everest Group, the multi-process HR outsourcing market is worth about US$3.3 billion globally.
 
Although the HRO industry consolidated, outsourcing contracts lasting a decade were thin on the ground when organisations couldn't see where they might be themselves. Single process outsourcing went from strength to strength, such as benefits administration, recruitment process outsourcing, payroll and learning.
 
From my perspective working on both the client side and the vendor HRO side, there were a number of lessons learned in the first two waves of HR outsourcing.
 
Key questions that need to be thought through before considering outsourcing:
 

– How will outsourcing fit with your HR operating model and HR strategy?

– Does your organisation really have the appetite to standardise HR processes and services?

– Do you have required experience managing third parties?

My view is that cloud will have a significant impact on HR and will help HR to deliver the original goal of freeing up time to focus on strategic imperatives. And outsourcing will play a big part in that for many organisations.
 
Third wave of HRO – will the cloud give HRO its silver lining?
 
There is a lot of excitement around technology as a driver for change, particularly in talent identification and development, and workforce productivity. HR continues to have challenging requirements, from finding future top sales performers to providing tools that monitor the performance of a global project team. There is now a relentless move to migrate HR systems from on-premise to SaaS (software as a service).
 
At the 2013 HRO Today Forum in London, Mike Ettling, Global Head of Cloud and On-Premise at SAP, commented that:
 
'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.'
 
A great benefit of an SaaS solution is avoiding the expensive and time-consuming customisation 'fudges', for example trying to get the system to map your exact paper-based performance management process. SaaS drives process standardisation because 'you get what you are given' in terms of functionality, and then configure it for your organisation. However, you still need to persuade employees to work differently.
 
Cloud will force HR to become more standardised, requiring less centralised HR teams to maintain it and breathing life into the HR outsourcing market.
 
A new offering – business process as a service (BPaaS)
 
The impact of cloud technology also gives HR some attractive outsourcing options, for example, move HR processes onto a standardised SaaS platform and outsource the management of the HR technology platform and HR administration. This combined offering of business process outsourcing and software as a service has been called BPaaS, or business process as a service. BPaaS offers standardised yet highly configurable HR services, allowing organisations to standardise transactional HR processes. The rise and rise of Workday, and others such as SAP's SuccessFactors, has stimulated the HR outsourcing market with NGA HR, IBM and AON Hewitt all with HRO contracts using SaaS.
 
As SaaS forces HR to standardise, there is less HR administration needed, therefore the BPaaS deals so far have been smaller in size. The BPaaS model fits nicely with the new generation of agile HR operating models.
 
So with the potential benefits of a new generation of HR outsourcing, how might this impact future HR operating models?
 
Impact on HR operating models
 
To benefit, HR will need to learn from the past and execute a more standardised approach to the delivery of HR services.
 
Software ultimately has to be used by us pesky humans. Good design, robust governance, communications, training and support are always needed irrespective of the next technological breakthrough.
 
And with any outsourcing, the same questions need to be asked about how it fits with the HR operating model and HR strategy.
 
As we design a new generation of agile HR operating models, the adoption of cloud and outsourcing will pose some interesting trends to watch, including:
 

– SaaS will automate many HR tasks; manual HR work will be reduced substantially.

– There will be less need for HR service centres as cloud-based systems manage to support the move to self-sufficiency for managers.

– There will be a new type of HR outsourcing which develops more around business consultancy services and specialist HR advice than service centres/manual processing.

– More HR resources will be allocated to solving business problems.

Summary
 
The early innovators of multi-process HRO had the right idea, but perhaps at the wrong time. The conditions for multi-tenanted HR outsourcing are now possible because of cloud technology. HR will have to overcome a resistance and scepticism to outsourcing, after mixed results in the past. Whether we use cloud or on-premise ERP HR systems, the hard work required to standardise HR services across geographies and divisions will still need to be completed, but now the benefits will be worth it
 
This post was orginally published by CIPD,  'Will the cloud have a silver lining for HR outsourcing?' in a report 'Changing HR Operating Models'
 
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