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Reflections from Last Week’s 20th Annual HR Technology Conference

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Reflections from Last Week’s 20th Annual HR Technology Conference

Author: 

Laci Loew, Founder and Principal, Laci Loew & Company LLC

October 16, 2017

Source: 2017 HR Technology Conference

The energy and buzz of HR Tech last week, taking place in the very same physical blocks as did the most horrific massacre in modern US history just days before, was a welcome breath of fresh air for all in Las Vegas last week. My personal thank you to the 2017 HR Technology Leadership Team for supporting Las Vegas at a very fragile time — #VEGASSTRONG.

I invested four and a half days stacked back-to-back with conference sessions, product demonstrations, corporate and investor visitors, and analyst discussions. If you did not get an opportunity to join the 8,500 in attendance, here are three takeaways you may find interesting and informing:

People (Not Technology) Are Central to Today’s Accelerated Change

By its very title, the HR Technology Conference is focused on the future of HR technology. But, the rapid pace of today’s workplace and workforce transformation is not only about the technology.

Building and sustaining workers of the future are about (1) shifting organizational structures from hierarchies to teams and employee networks, (2) evolving culture from diversity by the numbers to inclusion and empowerment to bring one’s whole self to work, (3) developing workers from overwhelmed users of information and curating content to empowering them as experts sharing meaningful insights regardless of rank and position, and (4) designing for a positive user experience that engages the user in an entertaining fashion versus building a platform or app brimming with shiny buttons and flashy colors and a litany of features that may not be specifically designed for the user but can be checked off in the feature list.

The User Experience Drives Technology Adoption

As shared by O.C. Tanner in a pre-Conference session, people do not use software – at home or work – for the sake of doing so. They “become adopters if they need, and feel compelled, to (do so),” if the technology solves a business problem, and is fun to use.

Figure. The Most Successful HR Technology Solutions Are All About the User

 

 Source: 2016 Fosway Group

Again, at the pulse of HR technology success rests people, and specifically the experience they have with the technology solution. Providers ignoring this trend risk their business.

Among 400+ providers at HR Tech, Jubi seems to stand tall here. I describe it as one of the very first modernized digital learning platform for organizations insisting on adoption and measurable results. Developed and owned by the former CLO of Motorola, American Express, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Larry Mohl knows well the corporate challenges of learning technology solutions that deprioritize, or worse yet, discount the user experience. With Jubi, the “learn-do-inspire” model motivates learners by engaging them in a fun, self-directed learning experience that accelerates knowledge application and incites higher levels of productivity.

If your 2018 goals include measurable increases in KPIs, I invite you to take a look at what Mr. Mohl has put together. His early clients (The Home Depot and Gilead among them) will tell you that Jubi – by putting the learner at the center of the experience – have resulted in new agent revenue increase per call by 17 percent and new agent time to revenue reduced by 50 percent.

Buyers Have a Key Role in Technology Implementation

Of the 400+ providers in the Expo Hall, nearly 50 of those occupied the Start-Up Pavilion. Doing the quick math, you can quickly validate that the opportunity for conference goers to see and touch HR technology 3.0 innovation was not in any shortage. Moreover, the innovators’ solutions were quite diverse from Governance Board apps, to digital medical wrist bands in support of wellbeing to virtual mentoring, to mobile-enabled solutions leapfrogging workers from content curators to wisdom sharers for better, faster business decisions.

While technology has always changed, the pace of change has never been so accelerated as what we are experiencing today. This includes the fast clip at which providers are making available not only new solutions but also new features within each solution. While at first this may seem nothing but a plus up, Conference attendees one after another described implementation challenges that accompany providers’ new monthly (and sometimes more frequent with agile development leading now) feature releases. While most providers shared information about their client success teams to head off implementation challenges that come along with feature-rich solutions, I suggest that this introduces another entry point for people at the center – and specifically the buyer.

As well as conducting due diligence and carefully selecting technology that will address their highest priority business needs, the buyer has a responsibility to actively manage the technology’s lifecycle, well beyond initial implementation. In my conversation with a chief talent officer (CTO) at a healthcare provider who recently implemented a new knowledge solution, we discussed how this often comes down to (1) setting upfront deployment expectations with the provider, and moreover (2) understanding and managing to the company culture – another obvious theme of the Conference’s presentation sessions and providers’ solutions.

This CTO described how one of his peers requested a report of predictive knowledge assets in the absence of organizational resources that had any predictive analytics experience, expertise, or capability. This request was illustrative of a mismatch between modern technology capability and organizational readiness. To embrace technology that enables the workforce of the future, buyers need to be astute on the current state of their corporate cultures and opportunities they have to align next generation technology capability with corporate readiness.

Last week’s HR Technology Conference was bubbling with time-honored names (ADP, Cornerstone, Deloitte, HR.com, Randstad, etc.) and hundreds more making a more recent play in the HR Technology 3.0 market – Benify, Greenhouse, Jubi, kununu, Pandexio, randrr, and Scout among them. Regardless of veteran or emerging, all are fast bringing to market innovative next generation technology that we likely never thought possible just a few short years ago yet alone fully oriented around the person – user or buyer alike – for better, faster business decisions –not just a longer list of features and functionality.

What to Know About Third Generation HR Technology

Authors:

  • Laci Loew, Founder and Principal, Laci Loew & Company LLC
  • Bob Danna, Retired Managing Director, Deloitte
  • John Burge, Co-Founder and CEO, Pandexio, Inc.

September 11, 2017

If you spend any time scrolling through your Quora digest, scanning news feeds, reading Tweets, posting on LinkedIn or Facebook, or catching up on the latest trends dominating Pinterest, then you know that artificial intelligence and automation are already having enormous impact on your business processes, products, services, and workforce. Smart systems are automating the transactional, mundane parts of work leaving the challenging aspects to humans. Thus, higher levels of cognition are required among workers today and going forward than what may have been the norm in the past.

Based on trending and recent research from Deloitte, the Department of US Labor, EY, Harvard, IBM, McKinsey, MIT and PwC among others, successful organizations are quickly taking action to shift workers from content curators and information users to digital experts creating and sharing curated insight with employee teams and across the enterprise network. Curated insights™are meaningful bits of wisdom derived from all the content that subject matter experts, thought leaders, and influencers have curated for the sole purposes of accelerating productivity across employee networks and outperforming the competition.

Figure 1. Productive & Relevant Workers Will Curate Insights, Not Just Content

©Laci Loew & Company LLC and Pandexio, Inc.

At least five new workforce megatrends are shaping today’s insights economy of digital workers:

  • New capabilities: Workers are using new technology systems to augment human intelligence in the pursuit of expertise.
  • New structure: Workforces are shifting from hierarchies to a complex network of teams, teams of teams, and an enterprise network and using new tools to enable the perpetual spread of intelligence for use just when needed.
  • New expectations: Workers seek and stay with organizations making the leap from content curation tools to insights curation platforms where experts are grown and empowered to make smarter decisions, faster.
  • New speed: In today’s “always on” digital environment, workers find themselves with less time to sift through the incoming and expect new tools to augment their thinking.
  • New metrics: Experts pluck wisdom and know-how from peers to make relevant business contributions and expect their expertise to be recognized and rewarded.

Figure 2. From Knowledge Workers to Insights Experts in Today’s Digital Workplace

©Laci Loew & Company LLC and Pandexio, Inc.

Like yesterday’s knowledge workers who required content curation tools to sort and filter and categorize information, today’s insights experts are most productive and stay relevant when they, too, are enabled with technology. However, learning and talent management systems and knowledge management tools are no longer enough. Insights experts operate in a digitally-driven 24×7 environment.  Actionable information lies at the core of enhanced productivity.  To cut through the overload and access the expertise they need to execute, they require insights curation platforms, which enable they and their colleagues to distill insights from content with a two-second mouse swipe. Insights curation platforms are a giant leap forward – the third-generation technology – supporting and sustaining the workforce of the future. 

How One Provider Is Responding

Pandexio® (www.pandexio.com), the pioneer and expert on curated insights, offers a third-generation insights curation platform — a SaaS solution that makes it easy for today’s digital employees to curate insights from content they consume and think about. Curated insights are 50X smaller and more relevant than whole pieces of curated content which are too much information to filter, manage, and synthesize.

Pandexio provides relief from 24×7 information overload and memorization, empowering employees to become experts and enabling them to share their bits of wisdom with each other, their teams, and the entire employee network for better, faster business decisions.  As a platform, the Pandexio solution can work within and across the existing HR technology and applications employees already use to consume content and get their work done.  It also allows the enterprise to offer its employees just in time learning, performance support and knowledge management in one easy-to-use solution.

Pandexio ensures today’s overwhelming world of unfiltered information powers the workforce, not paralyzes it. With IBM Watson baked in to support swift and consistent tagging, the Pandexio solution is a “rapid-learn” smart system, productivity tool, and on-demand knowledge solution all rolled-up into one user-centric platform. Pandexio’s patented curated insights functionality enables crowd-filtering of the actionable two percent, producing shared wisdom among all so employees can work smarter and execute better. Pandexio’s insight curation platform is called Smartsnips®.

Why Smartsnips®

Every day in every organization, employees consume voluminous quantities of documents, unfiltered web content, and unsorted intranet posts. They read opinions, discover facts, get exposed to new information, and study new data. Smartsnips enable employees to transform the daily bombardment of unfiltered and mostly irrelevant content into portable and permanent knowledge.  Smartsnips are contextualized, curated, actionable knowledge bits that can be shared with peers and re-used across the organization using existing platforms and without interrupting existing work streams. By exposing only information that matters, Smartsnips addresses top leadership priorities: it enhances employee expertise and workforce productivity and amplifies worker engagement and retention.

How Smartsnips Works

It’s simple. Pandexio integrates the Smartsnips platform with those systems that employees access daily – browsers, local and shared file systems, social applications and learning systems. As employees read, with a single mouse swipe they snip the actionable two percent creating micro-sized bits of knowledge.  They add their insight and tags, and it all goes into the cloud where it is accessible across the organization on any browser and device.

Figure 3. Example of a Smartsnip – including the curated insight, associated tagging, linked snip and curated content – all in one view and associated to the Subject Matter Expert (SME).

©Pandexio, Inc.

Smartsnips are like shareable, digital brain cells. They can be grouped into collections, searched and filtered, and easily re-accessed on-demand from a mobile phone. Rather than exchanging random and static content, with Smartsnips, employees exchange knowledge comprised of facts, insights, interpretations, and conclusions enabling them to focus just on what matters.

Smartsnips Use Case Examples

Early users of Smartsnips recount stories of how it has enabled workforce productivity. Here are just three examples of the successes they have shared regarding the business value: (1) to enable today’s social learning expectations of the Millennials and their peers, (2) to empower the Sales Team to close deals, and (3) to support the Customers with timely and accurate information they request:

  • Social Learning

The pain points: Employees forget training as fast as they experience it. Courseware in the Learning Management System generally stays static and is costly to develop. Key talent retires and takes relevant knowledge out the door. New hires aren’t plugged in to a support network. And with the influx of Millennials comprising our workforce of the future, the demand for social learning outpaces any learning management system or traditional learning strategy of training courses.

The Smartsnips solution: Use the combined brain-power of your company’s subject matter experts to “swipe out” nuggets of critical knowledge (Smartsnips) from voluminous documents, workspaces, internal blogs, communities of practice, discussion forums, and activity streams. Smartsnips turns “just talking” into knowledge collecting, sharing, and collaborating.

  • Sales Enablement

The pain points: Today’s Sales Reps have difficulty staying current with new products and services. Government regulations change or are imposed regularly and new product research is being released often. With the rise of the Web, customers are becoming product savvy. Put it altogether, and the knowledge bar of all Sales Reps is on a perpetual rise. Existing sales enablement solutions are static, multi-page documents and collateral often extremely text heavy bearing way too much content to recall at the time of need. The value proposition gets buried and the deal doesn’t close.

The Smartsnips solution:  Synthesize the most important sales knowledge (customer pain points, product features, competitor weaknesses, etc.) and make it instantly available on an iPhone. As a result, Sales has available in a click that which the Marketing, Product, Support, and the Contracting Teams have so they are truly a product expert and can quickly and knowledgeably answer customer questions, provide flexible solutions, and add the value the customer seeks.

  • Customer Support

The pain points: Support information is invariably buried in some technical document that sits on a shelf somewhere or at best stored in an online repository with questionable search capability. The Web is sprouting in support content.   Existing, specialized knowledge-base solutions can’t keep pace in providing answers to customer questions.  Yet, we know all the answers exist within the four walls of the company – they are all just buried in documents and brain cells.

The Smartsnips solution:  Take advantage of all the daily content consumption across the company, and all the experts that are already employed.  Crowdsource the most important two percent by making it easy to curate everyone’s insights and share it all with the Customer Service Agents so they can answer questions on demand. Like the Sales Rep using Smartsnips, this turns the individual who answers the ringing phone in the CSR Center into the expert product support agent that customers expect.

Summing Up

In today’s insights economy, knowledge is foundational and insights are the business differentiator. Curated insights are the means for powering up performance. Today’s high-performance organizations and workers rely on the ability to harvest critical knowledge and share vital insights.

Smartsnips empowers each person – regardless of level or function – to share their expertise across the entire enterprise.  They free everyone from the limitations of their individual knowledge and personal content stores, and enable every employee to tap into the expertise of the smartest employee – so collectively, everyone can make better, faster business decisions and outperform the competition.

What To Do Next

If you haven’t had an opportunity to check out Pandexio (www.pandexio.com), then you might want to do so. Pandexio’s Smartsnips transform content from a sea of disparate information to a treasure trove of actionable knowledge.

As one Smartsnips user recently said: “In today’s world, access to content is not a differentiator. It (Smartsnips) is not about curating content; it is about distillation of wisdom. It allows a SME to teach another in three minutes. Every company should invest its time and money here.” – Sr Director Strategy, a large technology company

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