Friday, November 19, 2010

E2.0 Meets Human Resources @E2.0 Conference

I've been reading about the recent Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Santa Clara and a few perspectives emerged. From some people, it sounds like the show was the same old thing, while others either had a different experience or are just better able to capture the essence of what is new and different. Some round-up articles I like include Ron Miller's editorial in Fierce Content Management and Gil Yehuda's 'What You Should Learn..." blog post.

I have also enjoyed the feature that allows you to watch the keynotes online. There was a panel keynote session I found very interesting entitled, "HR Meets E2.0 and the Cloud." They almost lost me at the beginning of the session, as the discussion centered mostly around Facebook and Twitter. I get that these social networking sites are increasingly important for business, specifically recruiting as it pertains to this discussion, but they are on the line between enterprise and social and I don't consider them enterprise products. Anyway, it wasn't long before they got back on track (for me) and the discussion was very interesting.

It's always fascinating to hear end-users talk excitedly and openly about their internal processes and how they get to true enterprise software deployments that have a real impact on the company. And that's what I heard about in this session.

In fact, Kiera Smith from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the publishing company, made what I see as the most striking point of the discussion. She explained that if HR departments want to make changes, it is important to start viral - don't wait for top-down approvals to go ahead with an E2.0-based programs. Her department started with free software solutions in order to prove capability of the solutions and show C-level management that it was worthwhile and the company could truly benefit from them. She gained the confidence of the users and built up a user base and was then able to bring solutions into the firewall. It's an approach I talk to daily with prospective customers, but it carries weight coming from a company that succeeded this way.

Other panel members included Eric Lane from Intuit, Oliver Marks from Soros and ZDNet and Tony Treglia from T2 HR Consulting. They talked to onboarding and offboarding, knowledge transfer, employee retention, managing performance, guidelines and advice for other companies.

I'm paraphrasing a bit, but any worker has to be optimized early, said Intuit's Lane. There's a heavy focus on making somebody effective quickly to get value; and the employee will feel more engaged and productive. Marks added that collaboration silos within the E2.0 solution work great; employees are looking for clarity of purpose.

Treglia made an important point that some companies today do still block sites like Facebook and that traditionally, HR departments are slow to adopt to new mediums. One example: "We can use Facebook to post new jobs, but the site is blocked internally."

Companies will have to come to grips with situations like this and be prepared to change policies to meet the needs of the changing workforce, their knowledgebase and the places they go for inspiration. Marks explained that there's a huge collision between the social marketing world and enterprise when it comes to onboarding.

Lane stressed that every E2.0 technology has to work together edge-to-edge. He said they started with 10 on-premise systems and now has only 2 - the rest are in the cloud.

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