My 2014 HCM Wish List

2014 is around the corner and I’ve begun to think about how HR organizations can move forward and enhance their relevance in the coming 12 months. So without further ado…

1.       HR organizations will adopt HR and Talent analytics

There has been a lot of talk about Big Data and analytics, but for all the talk HR is still behind other areas of the business when it comes to analytics. While HR is big on reporting, it’s time for HR to take a step forward and look at how they can leverage analytics for the better insight into their organization that will help them make better-informed decisions and increase operational efficiency. Being able to measure and predict if your Talent Management programs are working will be critical to their long-term success. For example, being to identify if learning and development initiatives are paying off with increased performance, whether you are promoting enough internally, and whether the quality of your external hires are sufficient will pay dividends as you look to grow your organization. And with predictive analytics capabilities more widely available with a variety of vendors, now is the perfect time to take the leap into analytics.

2.       Core HR and Talent Management processes will become one big set of holistic HCM processes

Talent Management practices are – in HCM terms – rather new, and as a result new Talent Management processes have been “bolted” onto existing core HR processes. The same can be said about Talent Management software. But with a new generation of SaaS HCM suites, these processes are becoming less separated and can be supported in a more holistic approach. Shouldn’t your hiring for a newly created position be tied into your succession planning, or its requirements be based on how you are training and compensating your workforce? Now is a great time to re-invent the HR wheel and incorporate the Talent Management spokes to cover all areas along the HCM road. Out with the old and in with the new is a cliché, but a relevant one.

3.       HR will innovate its practices and processes to increase employee engagement and retention

I recently read this superb article entitled How Netflix Reinvented HR on Harvard Business Review, in which Patty McCord, the former Chief Talent Officer at Netflix, explains the HR practices that they introduced at Netflix to improve employee engagement and retention. This got me thinking about how HR can innovate its practices and move away from the traditional compliance and governance related methods of doing things to more innovative, 21st century practices such as unlimited vacation policies, listening to innovation and ideas, rewarding outstanding performance and behavior, pay severance pay to fire under-performers or employees with outdated skills, and management by achievements and not by sight. Many organizations like to reward tenure and effort, or suppress ideas by employees because they are not senior management or because they challenge an organization to be better – but these aren’t going to keep your best employees in the long-term. Take action now or be prepared for your best employees to move to your competitors. Star performers cannot be easily replaced and you’ll miss them when they’re gone.

4.       Social collaboration will become enterprise-wide

Companies always want their employees to collaborate, but how does this work when employee are across different teams, departments, companies, or geographical locations? How does employee A know that employee B needs something if they don’t work together on a daily basis? Well social collaboration is the answer. And companies need to look at how they can leverage social collaboration to provide a platform for knowledge sharing and efficiency within their organization – particularly large organizations with teams spread out across regions, countries, and continents. I use social collaboration software regularly and when implemented correctly (not just deployed, but managing change within an organization) it provides tangible benefits.

5.       HR will move its core HRIS operations to the Cloud to become 21st century HR organizations

Is it really possible to be a modern, efficient, 21st century HR organization if you are using software designed and built 25 years ago? How can you be global when your HRIS was built to accommodate a pre-globalized world? Amazingly, there are tens of thousands of organizations that are using exactly those type of systems right now. So now it’s time for HR to get with the program and dispose of their outdated HRIS and move to a modern designed system that can not only support how they do HCM now, but also build for how they will do HCM in the future. As I referenced in point 2, older systems bolted Talent Management functionality onto their existing systems. Modern SaaS-based HRIS systems have built Talent Management capabilities in as part of their foundational system design. This is what will help give your organization a competitive advantage. Your old and “unique” business processes are what will not.


As we head into the new year I wish you all a very healthy and successful 2014. There are a lot of reasons to look at changing the way you did things in 2013 and before, so use this time to help move your business into the 21st century.


21st Century Business

The world is a rapidly changing place for businesses, particularly in a connected world where millennials with changing and different needs than previous generations are becoming the majority in the workforce. Business practices are changing and Cloud, especially, is forcing a change in how businesses operate. The rise of social media and accessibility to customers has opened up new channels for organizations looking to grow new and develop their existing business. How this is leveraged is what I call 21st Century Business.

Key Drivers

Both business and the world are changing. Consumer habits are changing. Society behavior is changing. Consumers are moving away from the traditional avenues of consuming information and entertainment; advertising, television and radio, and physical media are being consumed less and less. Advert-less digital content and on-demand consumption is driving consumers away from traditional channels and, as a result, away from traditional avenues of advertising. Ad-blocking technology and conscious ignorance means that in the digital world individuals are switching off. In a polar effect, marketing overload means that individuals and businesses are unable to find and consume the information they need too – and sometimes that information is not even marketed.

But from this stem new opportunities. The digital age of hyper-connected individuals and social media is creating new openings and new channels of engagement. For businesses to keep up, they need to adopt new practices and new methods of reaching their audiences. The atypical individual and the typical channel no longer exist as they did. Instead, there must be new methods and new channels used to disseminate and consume information.

Key Components – Assets, Actions, and Outcomes

There are some key components that need to be leveraged for 21st Century Business. I call these assets, actions and outcomes. These are summarized below:

  • Assets:
    • Content/Knowledge and expertise
    • Relationships and network
  • Actions:
    • Content creation
    • Content distribution
    • Social media (e.g. blogging, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)
  • Outcomes:
    • Engagement
    • Branding
    • Relationships and network

Content is king. Content is a key part of 21st Century Business and requires knowledge and expertise to create that content. But it’s also about sharing that knowledge and expertise. It’s about leveraging social media to distribute this content, knowledge and expertise. Customers are looking more and more to this kind of content to understand the markets, products, and services around them. The Content Grid below is a fine example of where these come into play.

The Content GRid

In his blog Content marketing ROI and that dangerous sales-marketing gap, Jon Reed makes some excellent points that related directly to content creation and distribution in a sales and marketing context. In particular, Jon points out that one of the biggest challenges that companies have is “creating truly memorable content that reinforces brand and expertise.”

I speak to customers on a regular basis that read my blogs and have read the recent book that I co-authored. These blogs are a key source of information and helping them to gain a greater understanding. They consume this type of content on different platforms. But while a blog may be published on a platform (e.g. SAP Community Network or WordPress), they may discover it via a different platform such as LinkedIn or Twitter. They may receive it in an email from a colleague that has found it on one of these platforms.

But it’s not just that they read blogs, Tweets or LinkedIn discussions. They find meaningful content in those blogs. They find critical information and opinions in those Tweets. They can engage with experts and discuss real problems in LinkedIn groups. They can combine all of these in one way or another to obtain value. And they want to engage with those experts to help them educate them specifically in their own context, solve business challenges, or implement solutions.

Key Outcomes – Value, Reach, and Brand

Relationships and networks are formed by creating value, the distribution of that value, and creating a brand through engagement alongside that value. The components of 21st Century Business combine as below to create value, reach and brand which, in turn, create relationships and network:

  • Knowledge & Expertise + Content = Value
  • Social media + Distribution = Reach
  • Value + Reach = Brand
  • Brand + Engagement = Relationships & network

Brands are important, but the days of television and magazine advertising to create brands is becoming a thing of the past. Although this traditional channel still has a great deal of value, for many these are no longer regular activities. Sure, people still watch television programs via Netflix or read digital content on an iPad app, but without the advertising that accompanied the traditional form of these activities then the means to creating a brand is changing.

Relationships are essentially nothing new within business. Relationships can be built off the back of the aforementioned content and distribution. Engagement via social media can help create relationships. Social media may also create one-way relationships that become realized via an in-person meeting or event, or through outreach from a business that needs a service or solution. When a customer has a problem, they can seek the experts online via the content or social media channels that they consume. When you have a problem you can reach out to experts you have networked with.

Once you have relationships and networks then extending the value beyond content and opinion is the next and final step of 21st Century Business. Once you have a recognizable brand then it’s about making inroads into your target audience. If you have proven expertise then there is a real value proposition for doing business. How this is done is based on the market and industry in which the business operates.


Without tying everything together then this is just content creation or content distribution. In order to build a business around 21st Century Business it requires understanding of how to create and distribute targeted content, build a brand, and market that brand to create relationships that can be leveraged. It requires understanding what consumers need and what content to create to meet that need.

The method of creating brands and doing business is changing in the 21st century, hyper-connected, digital world. Content is becoming king and true expertise is needed to forge value-adding content. Only content that provides value will be distributed and so 21st Century Business hinges on experts sharing their knowledge and expertise to the wider community. Over time a brand can be built and this brand will attract the smart customers who need to work with experts. In a way, this is a new method of indirect marketing through a sharing economy. It is the 21st Century way of doing business.