As chair of the HR track for the upcoming November Enterprise 2.0 conference I wanted to tap Bills' expertise, and to discuss the state of the market.
(Skype did a lousy job of recording my voice for some reason, but since most of the above is Bill speaking it's worth taking a few minutes to hear his thoughts).
The Human Resources world is the 'Rodney Dangerfield' of the executive suite, says Bill, and doesn't get enough respect...partially because HR gets caught up in the important but time consuming world of enforcing compliance at City, State and country levels. While the CFO's team keeps the financial records straight, HR has responsibilities for all other aspects of staying on the right side of the law.
Human Resources is typically pretty siloed, with recruitment and succession planning (having alternatives in place should key people leave unexpectedly) often not collaborating with each other, as an example.
HR gets a lot more respect for thinking strategically around key advantages such as 'how do we use our people to attain the strategic objectives of the company?' and this is made possible with modern Talent Management Suite applications, believes Bill.
Oracle are showing the Fusion version of their Human Capital Management suite for first time at the HR Technology Conference, and other modern applications will be demoed which have modern collaborative 'social' networking tools built in.
As Bill points out there's a "lot of talk about collaboration, but not a lot of doing" but presumes they'll get around to it sometime.
In order to manage talent holistically these tools, if used, will help to diminish conflicts between HR, IT and Line of Business.
There will be plenty of discussion of these concepts at the upcoming conference, with the charismatic Tammy Erickson keynoting with her research on 'Building Organizations That Leverage Collaborative Technologies: Transforming a Century of HR Assumptions and Practices' and a debate between Gartner's Jim Holinchek debating Naomi Lee Bloom on the future direction of technologies in this space.
(You can also catch a free Tammy Erickson & Margaret Schweer workshop in Chicago on September 21st 'Why your collaborative initiatives aren't working') which may be a useful preview of Tammy's approach).
From my perspective, Human Resources is a fascinating area right now - we're emerging from the rigid confines of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) technology into a new, more agile era where companies like Workday and SuccessFactors are having significant impact as Software as a Service vendors, while SAP, Oracle and pioneers of the Human Resources capital management and learning space such as Saba are emerging with their next generation offerings.
As noted in the above interview, Taleo recently bought (LMS provider) Learn.com to become a viable suite player in the space, and Kenexa purchased Salary.com. With SuccessFactors recent purchase of Enterprise 2.0 launch pad winner Cubetree to add an element of collaboration to their offerings, the Human Resources space is rapidly transforming to equip businesses for greater strategic flexibility if they are paying attention.
While there are now plenty collaboration tools available in the space, the 'not a lot of doing' Bill mentions is very much the limiting factor. Buying a toolkit doesn't make you a master mechanic, as I've previously written. The plethora of online options for interacting and collaborating more effectively may be in place, but this doesn't mean the professionals in the space, in this case buried in compliance requirements, are going to understand the value of investing time and money in them within their business context.