The State of HR Tech

A pre Enterprise 2.0 Conference conversation with HR Technology expert Bill Kutik, discussing cultural shifts for Human Resources professionals in a rapidly changing global business world

I caught up with Bill Kutik, the co chair of last month's HRTech conference yesterday: above is a video recording of our conversation. I'm the chair of the Enterprise 2.0 conference ''People, Culture and Internal Communications (HR)' track on the 15th of November in Santa Clara California, and as was the case last year have looked to Bill for guidance from his vantage point as the preeminent expert in this area.

I attended HRTech in Las Vegas last month and was impressed by the international flavor of the attendees. As we discuss above the USA leads the enterprise software world and although businesses are increasingly globalized the systems we use to run them are predominantly American. With only SAP (who are making giant strides with their HR products)  a non US company in the top ten it's understandable that end users from all over the world attended the conference.

In our Skype conversation this time last year on the same topic Bill commented that vendors were producing a “lot of talk about collaboration, but not a lot of doing”; twelve months later collaboration features have been rolled out and showcased in countless products. They're providing tools to enable collaborative attitudes at work but as Bill says people always like to talk about how 'workers will change work' (particularly the 'millennials' i.e. new young employees) but they don't think nearly enough about how work will change people.

Silicon valley software company culture is 'like Disneyland' says Bill and we agreed a very different world to the Windows XP and Blackberry powered cultures of companies in places like Des Moines in America or their equivalents globally. The features for collaboration are now available - the understanding and will to use them are predetermined by the level of knowledge hoarding and hierarchical paranoia in companies (in many companies the overall org chart is deliberately unavailable, rendering some new software features moot outside the confines of the HR department).

I attended the Molly Graham Facebook HR session at HRTech and was sufficiently impressed to request that Molly does a similar session with Rypple at Enterprise 2.0 - her information on the way the very young workforce is organized is extremely interesting and well worth digesting. That session is titled 'How Facebook Uses Technology to Manage the Facebook Generation'.

Other sessions on the track, picking up the baton from Bill's event are 'The Evolution of Talent Management' with representatives from Oracle, Ultimate and New Kind, 'Enterprises Speak on Culture and Performance' and 'New Strategic and Tactical Trends in Social Learning'.

The silicon valley software investor, all jazzed up about knowledge workers and millennials not needing training anymore now that consumer interfaces and Facebook training wheels are all the rage, is arguably in the Disneyland Bill mentions above - cultural shifts and momentum changes always take longer than idealists and sales people imagine.

Workday, who aren't attending this edition of E2.0 as they are in the thick of their Workday 15 briefings right now, are a good example of a company that is adding financial information and business intelligence to their HR core. Along with feeds from external sources (Linked In, Chatter etc) these attributes make them a potentially powerful business platform in the enterprise, as they convincingly demoed at HRTech.

While I'm personally a believer in those in control of the system of record, compliance, incentives and payroll being lead custodians of collaborative computing strategy and tactical roll out, the reality is most HR departments are not staffed for this level of strategic activity and are typically very busy dealing with the business process minutae. Global payroll issues and compliance alone is hugely time consuming as an example.

I'm looking forward to discussing all of the above on the 15th in Santa Clara - if you're attending and/or have a subject you'd like us to debate I'd appreciate your input!