The social media war begins- Oracle enters the hiring space

Up until a few months back, LinkedIn enjoyed the monopoly of a rich database of global professionals coupled with social media platform capabilities. Very soon, this monopoly will likely be challenged by other players like Oracle who are taking their social media business expansion plans extremely seriously.

With the social media hiring trend picking rapid momentum, more and more companies are entering the race to stay competitive and stay relevant. Many experts comment that companies that fail to leverage the social media opportunity will bear significant opportunity costs in terms of potential talent pool reach and time take to close positions. As the competition intensifies in this space, from a fairly fragmented industry with low entry barriers, we are witnessing the next level of market structuring in the social media service space― consolidation. Two recent developments are indicators that the social media hiring space is really heating up. On 27 August, 2012, IBM announced the acquisition of Kenexa, a social media networking company with a dual purpose― boost its hiring efforts as well as enter the social media provider space. Following that, another large headline was made this week when Oracle announced acquiring SelectMinds, a social media networking company. In a series of deals, this was Oracle’s biggest deal of the year.

It is important to note that this acquisition follows another large acquisition by Oracle― application tracking and recruitment application, Taleo. This development largely beckons the beginning of intense competition in the service provider market. With a large repository of applicant information, coupled with a social media platform, we can expect products that can make the concept of “attracting anyone, any time, from any where around the globe” possible.  Presently, LinkedIn is the only social media hiring database and service provider that claims to make possible for organizations to attract both active and passive candidates from any place, at any time, irrespective of a professional’s employment status. LinkedIn enjoys the luxury of a database of 175 million professionals from over 50 countries and they have made significant inroads into building out social media capabilities into the user interface. This has allowed the company to create a new revenue stream through the LinkedIn Recruiter services. This model, in a number of ways is unique and Oracle’s acquisition signals that competition in this space is likely to heat up soon. Taleo, with more than 20 million live subscribers and presence in over 50 countries will liven up the social media hiring market significantly.

With the hiring service provider market picking up steam, we can expect a string of similar acquisitions rolling out in this space. As a recent Mckinsey report states, the number of companies employing social media for hiring will increase 47% within the next four years. Social media hiring can, therefore, no longer be considered an experiment and companies who jump into the ship later can potentially end up spending significantly high lost opportunity costs.

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Is it time to visit the shared services shop?

For far too long, shared services has been off the radar of organizational strategy. Five, macro-economic trends, however, are compelling organizations to pay a visit to the HR shared services shop.

The key priorities for HR organizations in India have always revolved around efficiency improvements that are focused on organizational development and process. HR shared services, however, have never featured in the scheme of organizational efficiency plans. With global proliferation of the shared service model, HR organizations in India are gradually adopting the shared services model for leveraging the efficiencies of scale and skill. Pankaj Bansal, co-founder and CEO of PeopleStrong highlights that, “Shared services should not be looked upon as a process; it is an alternative HR delivery model.” Shared services, if implemented well, can help an organization realize significant benefits of cost, scale, skill, and delivery.

Before understanding the opportunities for implementing a shared service model, an organization needs to understand the role of an HR professional. According to N.S. Rajan, Asia Pacific Head of Human Capital, Ernst & Young, “The role of an HR professional is that of an alchemist.  The human resources function in an organization is the sole owner and facilitator of transformation.”  The shared service model has the potential to transform modern-day organizations toward operational and functional efficiency.  “Shared services,” Rajan continues,” is part of the umbrella of transformation that the present-day organizations demand. It is a path to reach every customer of the business.”

Many organizations find it difficult to drive the business case for HR shared services. Kamal Singh, Director and CMD of All India Management Association comments, “the shared service model has become the need of the hour for business efficiency. Organizations that do not have efficiency on the strategic agenda will fall behind.” Through the shared services model organizations can maximize efficiency of the function through access to resources, competencies, and skills of a specialized service provider.  Rohail A. Khan, Executive Managing Director at ACS, Xerox highlights that shared services present HR with the opportunity to become truly strategic.  The transformation in the operating environment is driving the business case for HR shared services.  There are five key trends driving the business case for HR shared services:

The budget shopper. Buying propensities are shifting in organizations. The average deal size is shrinking and large galactic deals are no longer the order of the day. The key reason behind this trend is because there is very little margin for failure in today’s hyper competitive economic environment, and failure on the part of the provider translates into failure on the part of the organization. Organizations are hedging the risk of failure through shrinking deal sizes and larger volumes of deals. Platform-based solutions account for the largest area of growth.

From delivery to outcome. Organizations are increasingly looking at outcome-based value proposition. With the heightened focus on efficiency the reliance toward technology, services, innovation, and outcomes are increasing.

Any-medium, any-device, any country. There is a growing focus on usability and innovation. The complexity of modern day organizations is much larger than what it was 20 years back. Most organizations deal with multiple generations of employees; some organizations even have 4-5 generations of employees in the workforce. The diversity of the workforce introduces complexities in the form of behavior change, technology interactions, and service ethics.  Serving the needs and requirements of this multi-generation, multi-cultural workforce individually can become overwhelming for organizations.  It is, therefore, the need of the hour to find ways where employees can self-service. The business case for shared services, therefore, is to transform to an environment of “any-medium, any-device, any country.”

ERP to optimized resource planning. Organizations are gradually moving away from deployment of expensive enterprise resource planning platforms toward more efficient platforms capable of executing smaller and more specific tasks. The reliance in ERP is gradually declining as the market is gradually shifting toward intelligent systems capable of high-level analytics as compared to traditional ERP systems.

SOLOMO― Social, local, mobile. There proliferation of cloud technologies, social-media, and end-user computing is compelling enterprises to respond favorably toward technology. Studies indicate that technology has become one of the most important drivers for engagement and EVP across industries, geographies, and organizations.

With the macro-economic changes in the global economy and the changing composition of organizational workforce, the importance of shared services is growing increasingly. Organizations looking to remain competitive will increasingly need to rely on innovation, efficiency, and technology. With decreasing product lifecycles and the hyper-competitive market, shared services appears to be the answer to how organizations can sustain their competitive edge.  Perhaps, it is time to pay a visit to the shared services shop!

Social media hiring- The future

Organizations that leverage social media intelligently can expect unprecedented returns in the quality and reach of talent pools.

Much has changed in the last 10 years about how someone looks for jobs. Not until too long ago, a job seeker would open the daily newspaper’s job supplement section, encircle the jobs of interest, note down phone numbers and contact details, and create a list. The more enterprising, perhaps, would go the extra mile― do a Google search on the company, and inquire in his limited personal and professional network to investigate about the company. The territory of job research was limited to publicly available (and often promotional) information on the Internet and word-of-mouth. As Internet penetration deepened, candidates began to realize the benefits of a larger aggregator of jobs― the job portals. Along with the convenience of having everything in one place, job seekers were also saved off the pain of having to note phone numbers, call for appointments, and visit individual company offices to deliver their resumes. The job portals provided a job seeker direct access to job openings from hiring organizations, as well as to a number of job and recruitment consultants. Job portals also offered the convenience of allowing an applicant to create a profile and store their resumes where potential recruiters can view and reach out to the applicant. From the hiring organization’s standpoint, job portals resulted in significant reduction in hiring costs and turnaround times. Trends indicated that job portal usage was more concentrated in the large employment hubs (metropolitan and Tier I cities), while job seekers in other parts of the country largely relied on job newspapers. For a while, both job newspapers and portals co-existed owing to their large consumer base and fairly undeviating search behavior.

Developments of changing demographic behavior and technological innovation have given rise to many changes in hiring workflows and the way jobs are promoted. These trends are largely driven by cloud and social media technologies that are triggering significant changes in behaviors, both of the job seeker and of the hiring organization. Social media is no longer limited in reach; 60% of all new Facebook profiles created in India in the last 6 months were from Tier II cities and the non-urban sector. With the increased ease of information access, job seekers want to know almost everything about the employment experience before accepting an offer, some even before applying. Hiring organizations, on the other hand seek greater intelligence about prospective candidates, owing to their ever increasing need to hire specialized talent.  Another key development is the increasing trend of organizations reaching out to professionals who are not actively looking out for jobs. The industry terminology for such skilled professionals is, “passive” candidates. While organizations can reduce significant cost by tapping into the talent pool for active candidates, the higher value proposition of social media is its ability to tap into the passive talent pool. Organizations, more often, find the right talent for their requirements in the passive talent pool. In the absence of the right information channel and a delivery mechanism to attract talent from this pool, organizations can potentially miss out on significant opportunities.

Irfan Abdulla, Director, Hiring Solutions, at Linkedin India says that they realized the potential of leveraging social media for tapping into the passive talent pool and started Linkedin’s hiring solutions in 2009. Launched in India in the first quarter of 2012, the “Linkedin Recruiter” is their specialized hiring solution, which opens up an organization’s access to 175 million active and passive professionals globally.

The need for tapping into the passive pool

The need for hiring quality talent for executing specific organizational activities has become more pronounced. “Given the current economic climate,” Irfan says, “organizations are not just required to hire the right quality of candidates; they are required to hire quality at scale.” It is possible that the right candidate for a job may not be looking out for a job at the time when an organizational position opens. Also, in the absence of macro-level geographical workforce information, an organization may end up focusing efforts in the wrong geographical talent pool. All of these issues can result in an organization facing in-ordinate delays in filling up critical positions, or selecting the wrong candidate for a position. It is, therefore, extremely important for organizations to track the right information on the following questions:

  1. What are the skills available in the talent market pool at this point?
  2. From where can we source the talent required for the specific role requirements from open positions?
  3. Are there opportunities where we can attract the right candidates that we need in our organization, even though they may not be looking out for a job at this point?
  4. What are the ways by which we can send the right messages to attract this passive talent pool?

The social media imperative                       

Social media, owing to its presence and penetration among global professionals, offers the greatest potential to reach active and passive candidate pools globally. Social media recruiting companies, therefore, will continue to identify newer and more effective ways to gather intelligence and more accurate answers to the above questions. For example, post-login, a user of Linkedin views professional news feeds from the network, and suggestions about groups, associations, and potential jobs.  It sources and delivers targeted content by gathering intelligence from an individual’s professional profile. A hiring organization, on the other hand, can push their employer brand message and current job opportunities to a large pool of active and passive candidates through the platform.

The future of social media hiring

Very soon, organizations failing to realize the full potential of social media will lose the race for sourcing skilled talent. Organizations will soon need to integrate social media recruiting into their strategic organizational mandate and understand what drives talent behavior. Only then will they be able to truly realize the rich potential of social media hiring.

Speak the right shared service language

Most business case conversations about deciding whether to outsource an HR process depend on approximations and “gut feeling.” HR finds it difficult to communicate outsourcing metrics in business-friendly terminology. Speaking the right language can prove to be the difference between go or no-go decisions to outsource an HR process.

In order to standardize and make operations more efficient, organizations outsource various components of the HR value chain. From basic non-core processes, such as Payroll, Benefits Administration, and Employee Record-Keeping, HR service providers have steadily evolved over the years into servicing central core functions, such as human capital management. Most organizations still struggle with identifying the baseline criteria for outsourcing decisions. The key criteria for outsourcing decisions are typically grounded on opinion and approximations around what constitutes core and non-core HR competencies.  In the organizational context, it is typically a team of senior leaders who debate and discuss the primary reasons why a particular process should be outsourced; and on most occasions these discussion lack data-driven arguments. Oftentimes, disagreements arise because it is difficult to obtain quantitative data to differentiate core from non-core functions. Experts recommend four business communication tips backed by data-driven metrics that can help drive the business case.

Skill-Level Enhancements― There are two ways by which outsourcing arrangements provide an opportunity to access and enhance skills level. Firstly, the organization gains access to specific process skills of the outsourcing service provider. Owing to the service provider specializing in specific processes, the organization gains access to higher skills in executing those processes. In addition, outsourcing frees up time for internal staff to enhance skills, and employ their existing skills in higher-level work. In outsourcing discussions, skill enhancements need to be discussed in terms of value. Quantitative insights on effectiveness, efficiency, and skill level enhancements can help drive these value conversations. What would make sense to the business― it is worth saying that outsourcing the process can reduce turnaround time by X unit points. Hard figures are hard to contest.

Better Spend Alignment― Through the reduction of fixed costs by achieving economies of scale, outsourcing arrangements can prove more financially viable than setting up internal operations. There are also opportunities for lowering labor costs by gaining access to professionals with specific skills in more cost-effective locations. An outsourcing arrangement also offers the opportunity to create innovations within organizational processes by accessing the expertise of multiple clients accessible to the service provider. In terms of quantifiable data, these translate into the one on one mapping of cost differentials associated with infrastructure, staff, process development, and innovation between owned and outsourced processes. Business is more interested in knowing how outsourcing a particular process lowers direct labor costs by X units, skill development costs by Y units, and innovation costs by Z units.

Reduction of Resource Loss― Oftentimes the company bears the costs and risks of losing employees, thereby resulting in additional costs of hiring, training, service risk, and execution delay. Outsourcing ensures that the risk of resource loss is borne by the service provider. While presenting an argument it is important to quantify the monetary value of hedging risks of resource loss. Business language for resource loss reduction revolves around how outsourcing hedges risks of resource loss by X units per unit of output/service.

Improved Technology Access― Outsourcing can result in upgrading processes into more advanced technology platforms that may otherwise by prohibitive to roll out internally within the enterprise. In addition to quantifying the direct monetary gain of utilizing an advanced technology platform, it is necessary to quantify how the introduction of advanced technology affects business efficiency metrics. Rather than saying that outsourcing opens access to higher technology of a service provider, it is worth mentioning the extent of how the technology improves unit productivity and service efficiency.

While greatly helping push the business case for outsourcing, speaking the language of business also helps an organization define clear service expectation metrics. HR can leverage various tools to collect and track metrics for driving the business case. But the biggest transformation, that many experts believe HR needs to bring, is a change in mindset that embraces analytics and data-driven decision making as a part of everyday existence.

Hey, we’re tech-savvy; or are we?

Fine, you have automated some enterprise processes. But are you really a tech-savvy organization? The key to calling yourself a technologically successful enterprise lies in starting right.

The last decade was marked with organizations scampering to automate internal processes. From payroll and benefits automation to big bang HRMS implementations, the HR technology market in India has witnessed a staggering compounded annual growth rate of 77% YOY since 2007. Also, interesting to note is that this trend was led by small and medium businesses deploying HRIS/HRMS in their attempt to become “tech-savvy.” In the absence of right planning and strategic view, however, a technology implementation can go terribly wrong, resulting in consequences that far outweigh the perceived benefits of automation and digitization. According to Phil Lamb, Managing Director of Infinity Software Solutions, “inability to define the scope coupled with cumbersome system implementations are among the top reasons why HR technology implementations fail in organizations.”

Oftentimes, we’ve heard senior leaders in HR forums speaking about the importance of technology in attraction and retention. While studies reveal that technology comprises one of the key employment value proposition (EVP) attributes for Gen Y and Millennials globally, there is still a significant majority of the workforce in India who do not belong to either of these demographic segments. Moreover, some experts argue that the preferences of GenY and Millenials in India are characteristically different from that of the global workforce. Digging further, these differences have shown to be more pronounced in specific sectors such as manufacturing and utilities. A mad scamper for technology implementation based on unrealistic hype that disregards the actual preferences of the workforce can potentially do more harm than good.

Does this mean that there is no real connection between the hype and benefits that technology implementations claim to bring to the enterprise? Does technology implementation have any real impact on workforce engagement? The answer to it lies in the purported direction that an enterprise aims to tread through technology.

Research suggests that an employee can potentially lose up to 30% of a typical workday in executing non-productive activities. Coupled with work breaks (lunch, time away), almost 50% of an employee’s 9-hour work day can potentially be lost to non-value adding activities. Non-productive activities include attendance and leave management, scheduling and co-coordinating meetings, technical downtime, internal information gathering, and support desk communications. It is in this area of non-productive task automation that enterprises should base their starting point for automation. Migration to an automated environment can significantly reduce the time taken for executing non-value adding tasks. The answer to eliminating all internal inefficiencies, do not necessarily lie in a big-bang HRIS/HRMS implementation that requires significant change management investments.

Another area where technology has demonstrated significant positive ROI is in the area of performance management. It is surprising to note that very few organizations in India have automated their performance management process. Most companies still rely on tedious paper-based processes and outdated performance management methods. Modern day performance management systems, if implemented with the right change management plan, can virtually manage an organization’s end-to-end performance management process starting from goal-setting to performance delivery.

So, what is the key to ensuring that an organization can leverage the benefits of technology the right way? Experts recommend six technology planning indicators to safeguard against failed implementations.

  1. Start an automation project that first targets elimination of repetition and redundancy
  2. Set clear guidelines and guardrails outlining the definitive purpose of a technology implementation
  3. Account for the YOY net present value across the entire lifecycle of the technology implementation
  4. Consider a shared service partner to gain access to superior technology and implementation expertise
  5. Create a change management plan by involving all senior stakeholders
  6. Consider technology implementation as a strategic enterprise objective and gather management’s commitment to its success

And above all, before you call yourself a tech-savvy enterprise, do stop once and ask, “Are we really?”

Anytime Anywhere HR

Information availability and quality are rapidly defining efficiency for modern day businesses. With the ever-increasing reliance on information, business professionals are demanding access to information systems anytime and anywhere.  Starting from the need to connect with prospective talent to accessing enterprise records, more and more HR professionals feel the need for accessing information to meet the pressing issues of their business constituencies. From the supply side, more and more developers are building apps to meet this ever-increasing demand for anytime, anywhere HR. Apps are standalone products built for any kind of computing environment (desktops, mobiles, tablets) and are typically characterized by rich features and a friendly user-interface for efficiently executing a specific set of tasks. Many confuse apps under the broader cluster of social networking; it has to be understood that apps are actually engines for executing tasks within a medium and that they’re not necessarily the medium themselves. Owing to their specificity, apps are easier to navigate and fundamentally faster than a full-service web site or a social networking platform, thereby making them popular tools for quick and efficient information access. Some of the common app families popular with HR professionals are as follows.

Recruiting: These apps cater to specific components of the recruiting lifecycle. While the most popular ones are those that help screen resumes, there are other high-end apps that can browse through various social networking sites and shortlist prospective candidates. Still others are built to promote the employer brand through interactive communications with prospective talent. Some of the popular recruiting apps available include JobSpeek, Jobvite, and mResource.

Productivity tracking: HR professionals typically employ these apps to keep track of and generate real-time reports of workforce productivity. These include apps for time and attendance, leave management, and scheduling. Some of the popular productivity apps among HR professionals are Vortex Mobile Connect, TimeStation, and Rypple.

Payroll and benefits: These apps allow HR professionals to access, review, and manage payroll and benefits data of the organization. Along with access, these apps also offer functionality to generate reports in real time in mobile and tablet devices.  Some of these apps also act as an interface between the organization and employees, allowing them to check payroll and benefits information, submit queries, and access specific information requirements. Some of the popular payroll and benefits apps among HR professionals include Ascent, ADP Mobile Payroll, and HR Concepts’ Mobile Benefits.

Workforce analytics: These apps gather and analyze information on the enterprise workforce based on organizational metrics and standards. These apps allow HR and business leaders make informed workforce decisions through real-time reports. Some of the popular workforce analytics apps include Kronos Workforce Mobile, Oracle Mobile Workforce Analytics, and SAP Mobile Enterprise.

Social networking: Social networking apps prove extremely handy for HR to communicate with the employee base and propagate information quickly and efficiently. While many organizations host facebook and twitter pages for their social messaging requirements, there are many that create their own internal social networking app. Some of the popular apps available in this space include Connections (IBM), Zoho, and PeopleHub (an internal social app built for MindTree by Microsoft).

As mobile applications get more widespread acceptance in the talent market, provisioning HR apps will become an important channel for attracting, engaging, and retaining talent, as well as managing HR organizations of the future. To have an idea of the importance of mobile apps for talent management of the future, Apple stated that between 2008 and 2011 there were 15 billion job application downloads from its App store; the same number took the iTunes store twice as many years!