"Where do you think you're going? Nobody's leaving. Nobody's walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We're all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here.” - Clark W. Griswold

Innovation drives change. Innovation breeds success. Innovation makes… a mess?

As has been oft-repeated, we are in what some could consider a ‘golden age’ of technological innovation in HR, with an abundance of shiny new solutions available, all designed to make the practitioner’s life easier. While the promise of this is exciting, and the rapid pace of technology adoption is encouraging, the other edge of this double-edged sword has left many with a bundle of solutions similar to what Mr. Griswold is grappling with in the image above. And yes, this is a “full-blown, four-alarm emergency” we need to get a handle on sooner rather than later.

Various research conducted over the past two years has revealed that HR organizations have to manage anywhere from 6-10 systems on the low end, to as many as 40 systems on the high end. That’s a lot of strings of Christmas lights to maintain and manage. And even when you get them all hooked up and connected to one another, more often than not all “the little lights still aren’t twinkling”. (Thanks for noticing, Art.)

Begun in earnest with the flood of acquisition by big players like Oracle, SAP and IBM, the trend toward vendor consolidation has been gaining traction for years now. Those shops began to gobble up smaller players to fill gaps and build out their own existing HCM suites, with the goal of creating end-to-end, single vendor solutions for all HR practice functions. But with legacy systems still at the core, many of these cobbled together ‘all-in-one’ solutions still lack the flexibility to adapt and evolve as even more innovations are brought to market. Still, as recently reported by Bersin, organizations are so in need of integrated systems that nearly half surveyed are willing to sacrifice technical features. But is sacrifice really the answer? Can’t we have it all?

Well, that’s a good question that could be answered in the coming year. But perhaps rather than seeking out a one-size-fits-all solution for the entire breadth of the HR function, it’s more realistic to segment that function into a few distinct disciplines – talent acquisition, learning/training, performance and compensation. Relying on 4 systems instead of 40 would still be a major improvement, yes?

No doubt, a host of vendors are striving to bring all-inclusive solutions within these areas to market in order to allow this ‘golden age’ to firmly take root. Prior to achieving this single-platform nirvana however, it is important for organizations to look inward and, as the esteemed Naomi Bloom was paraphrased recently, “clean out the crap.”

“Shi**er was full!” - Cousin Eddie

Bloom was, of course, a tad more eloquent than that. The full quote:

“HR must clean up their crap coding structures, outmoded or irrational business rules and process flows that are from the beginning of time rather than reincarnating all this sludge in their next generation HR and talent management.”

In this discussion, Bloom and a panel of well-recognized and respected voices on HR Tech (Bill Kutik, Brian Sommer and Vinnie Marchandani) spoke about the need to evolve not just the technology but also the mindset and approach to HR. Inhis piece from Diginomica, author Den Howlett summarizes the continuing conversation thusly:

“In her explanation, Bloom says that much of what’s happened in HR technology over the last 30 years has been little more than a replication of the past rather than trying to reinvent for the present and future. … It quickly became apparent that what they were really talking about is not so much things like hiring processes as they exist but about the way potential candidates look at the world with the benefit of new data driven solutions that are mushrooming out there.”

And there it is. Looking at this from the candidate’s point of view is essential, because in many respects, the candidate’s expectations about engagement, technology, process and everything else related to finding a job are far ahead where things actually stand at this stage of the game. Today’s mindset is so focused on process that the people behind those processes – the candidates and practitioners themselves – have, in many cases, been inadvertently shuttled off to the side.

At Jibe, we’re laser focused on the talent acquisition end of the HR spectrum. Every solution we build and bring to market is driven by the desire to improve both the candidate and user experience. To achieve this, consistency is key – and utilizing a dozen different vendors to fill in different pieces of the recruiting lifecycle does not lend itself to creating a consistent, holistic experience.

To maintain that experience going forward, organizations are increasingly relying on data to analyze their processes and continually tweak and optimize them. But for that data to be a reliable indicator of what parts of the process need to be altered, it needs to be clean and accurate from the get, which is difficult to achieve if it’s pulled from a spaghetti knot of multiple, patchwork systems.

So, as we all set our ‘out of office’ auto-replies and pack up for a surely deserved break over the next week or so, let’s think about where we go next. Like others, we at Jibe truly believe that 2014 will bring the next wave of vendor consolidation, one that doesn’t sacrifice functionality. One that utilizes the best new solutions and approaches rather than simply gluing new pieces together with older ones. One that is driven by people, not process. And maybe, a year from now, when we flip the switch, our eyes will light up as they should.

Wishing everyone a Happy Holiday and a Bright New Year. And may every single one of your little lights twinkle in 2014.

Views: 139

Comment by Keith D. Halperin on December 23, 2013 at 1:30pm

Thanks, Jed. I'd like to ask my colleagues out here in Recruitingland:

Which of these technological HR/recruiting innovations have made:

1) you more money or

2) your ordinary job easier/more pleasant/more creative/less repetitive or boring or

3) improved the speed, quality, or cost of hire?

Happy Holidays,



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