Social. Mobile. Big Data. Oh My!

This year’s HR Technology Conference wasn’t arguably the biggest yet – it was the biggest yet.

From “The 15th Annual HR Technology® Conference & Expo was, as predicted, the largest and most exciting ever! With record-breaking attendance and record-breaking exhibits plus attendees from dozens of countries around the world, it truly was an international annual Town Meeting!”

The major themes at the conference were very clear.  HR Technologist Michael Krupa and Rob Garcia defined them perfectly: Social, Mobile, Big Data (Analytics), and The Cloud.

Social. One session in particular that showcased the power of social technology was ‘Marsh Transforms Itself With Social Technology’ with Laurie Ledford (CHRO, Marsh & McLennan Companies) and Ben Brooks (SVP & Global Director, Enterprise Communications & Colleague Engagement, Marsh Inc.). The session showcased what they were doing with Marsh University.

Key takeaways:

1. Social learning can be very powerful – find a way to uncover the knowledge, expertise, and interests of your employees and then enable them to cross-pollinate.

2. Technology alone does not solve business problems – there is still demand for visionary leaders like Laurie and Ben to drive innovative application of technology to shift the business and solve real problems.

Repeat after me: It’s not about the tool… or the technology…

Mobile.  Social and mobile are converging in a powerful way that is empowering sexy, on-demand functionality across all areas of HR Technology.  Want proof?  Check out HireVue’s new OpenVue product – this is disruptive technology, and it’s here to stay.

How prevalent is mobile? Ken Burbary, Chief Digital Officer at Campbell Ewals said it best:

Ken’s tweet speaks to media, but the mobile trend can be much more widely applied than this – company e-mail, applications, interpersonal interaction – mobile is pervasive across all aspects of personal and professional engagement.  Having a mobile strategy is no longer a nice thing to have – it’s absolutely essential!

Mobile is even causing slow-to-change industries to innovate wildly.  Philips just announced a new iOS-controlled LED home lighting system.  How cool is that?

Big Data.  This is the business and consulting buzzword of 2012.  Charlie Judy wrote a great post for Dice on this called ‘Analyze Your Workforce: People First, Numbers Second.’

Another recent article by Alex Williams of TechCrunch noted that:

“Big data will drive $232 billion in spending though 2016.  It will directly or indirectly drive $96 billion of worldwide IT spending in 2012, and is forecast to drive $120 billion of IT spending in 2013.”

$232 BILLION.  Let that sink in for a minute.  The research, published by Gartner, drew several interesting conclusions as well.  One thing is for sure – it’s going to impact products, businesses, software sales, and implementation/support services immediately, and in a massive way.

The Cloud.  We used to call this SaaS (Software-as-a-Service).  The new buzzword is The Cloud. One of the most anticipated events at each HR Tech conference is Naomi Bloom’s Master Panel, and this year’s panel was “Bringing HR Into The Cloud.”  All of the major powerhouses in enterprise HR software were represented – Steve Miranda (Oracle), Mike Capone (ADP), Sanjay Poonen (SAP), John Wookey (, Stan Swete (Workday), and Adam Rogers (Ultimate Software).

The key takeaway here: Each may define the path to the cloud and what that entails differently, but all emphatically agree that The Cloud is here to stay.

The Glue (Hint, it’s the People).  While the conference focus is on the technology component of human resource technology, there is still a large emphasis on the human component as well.  After all, you can’t leverage technology investments to their full potential without human intervention.  Technology investment must be undertaken with a business outcome in mind, and they require skilled people to deliver on these initiatives.

The emergence of ‘the candidate experience’ as the primary point of discussion in any and all recruiting sessions is more proof of this, as are the numerous Talent Communities that are popping up to provide resources to these candidates.

The ‘Second Annual Candidate Experience Awards – ‘The CandEs!’ session showcased this trend, with a strong emphasis on high-touch engagement with candidates, creative recruiting processes, and a constant focus on personalization.

We talk at length about trends – mobile development, big data, cloud computing – amongst many others, and as demand grows for professionals with the right skills and experience to drive these initiatives, candidate experience will be a key differentiator for companies.

Likewise, Talent Communities such as the ones here at Dice will become an important resource for job seekers to have a central hub for information exchange, learning, resources, organizations, and current events.

The Rest.  There are literally hundreds of posts that could be written about advancing the ball in HR Technology and resulting implementations.

Mike Rayburn gave a nebulous to-do – we should be leveraging ‘What If’ as the most powerful question, since at that point any proposal lacks commitment but anything is possible.

So what can you do with that today?

8 Responses to “Social. Mobile. Big Data. Oh My!”

  1. Jason – great post. Can’t say it enough…”its not about the technology!”
    In fact if we approach our CEO’s and other biz leaders with biz problems rather than with tools and social and blah, we have a much greater opportunity to engage in a strategic conversation that can move the business.

  2. Thanks for the comment Ben – glad we’re in agreement on technology and its “place in line”. We need to diagnose and address real problems with well-designed business process and leadership, and only then can we fully appreciate what technology may enable our business to do.

  3. lisakuhnphillips

    great, no….FABULOUS read.
    Can we just change the old school plain name of Human Resources to the new’scooler name of Social Resources?…..People, Processes, Platforms that LEAD to Meaningful Performance.
    No perceived silos, no baggage to check in or out. Good Business is human. Great, fully integrative and engaging business is social.

    • Lisa – I’m all about social and believe the “old” Human Resources focus is long in the tooth. However I look at evolving role of HR as leveraging social as a method, a means, but not an end. The end is performance, fulfillment of potential and impact. These can all be accelerated through a social architecture, but it’s important to remember at the end of the day it’s about producing results and I don’t believe social is a result. Thoughts?

      • lisakuhnphillips

        Ben – Completely hear and agree with what you are saying. The word “Social” is definitely the ‘pull in’ method and performance is ‘push on’ results. Still looking for a name that sheds the old and brings in the new vision of HR…I’m game for anything that shows individuals their meaning and meaningful performance matters at any company. True partners with the company, the clients they serve, and the individuals that can help them be better stewards for the mission. People Performance, maybe?
        A hipper PeopleSource moniker?
        Who knows, other than we have to change it up.

        ps, Some may say what’s in a name… My give: if you are trying to build something better and create a new right kind of legacy….it matters 🙂

  4. @Michael – I want the iOS controlled light bulbs too. That’s the modern day version of that clap on – clap off infomercial product… awesome.

    @Lisa – Thanks for the kudos Lisa, much appreciated. I like your proposal of a fully integrated and engaging business driven by social.